Curriculum Reviews
Is All About Spelling Worth It

Is All About Spelling Worth It

A Discussion was sparked today over on Instagram if All About Spelling is necessary or even worth it to use along with All About Reading. So I sat down to list what AAS offers us that AAR does not. Our real-life experience in using both programs, and if I think both are necessary.

For background, we have used AAR levels 1,2,3, and are about halfway through level 4. We have also used AAS levels 1,2, and are about halfway through level 3.

All about learning separates their reading and spelling. They have blog articles explaining why. They also have this blog post specifying the actual differences and similarities. That article will be a big help in deciding if you will use both programs. 

But I am going to tell you our REAL LIFE experience and the main differences when using All About Spelling so you can decide if it’s worth it to you.

Key cards

Im starting out deep and with what I think the most useful piece of AAS. If you were going to use one thing I would say use the key cards. You can get the cards or even the teacher’s manual that have pictures of the cards and make your own. The key cards are basic spelling rules. Usually the more concrete rules. There are not a ton in each level, usually 5-10 cards.

The key card rules really amp up your spelling instruction. I will say it’s just as important for you, the teacher to learn the key cards as it is for the student to remember them. It’s going to be way more useful when teaching the spelling of say “snack” to say “When the sound of /k/ comes right after a short vowel we use ck, making it s-n-a-ck” Instead of teaching the spelling of that one word, you have taught how to spell tons of words that end in ck.

As far as I remember these key card rules are not all taught in AAR and the ones that are there is not nearly as much emphasis put on these “rules” because they are simply not as important in order to read. 

For example: In AAS “ck” is taught as stated above but in AAR simply as “C and K work together to make the /k/ sound.”

Tailored sentences

 A big asset to AAR is their readers that use ONLY phonics-based stories and each story only uses what has been taught so far in whichever level you’re in, no surprise sight words. Just the same AAS provides tailored sentences for each lesson. This is a big asset of AAS.

Although it seems simple to make up sentences for words, AAS tailors their sentences to constantly review past lessons. Once you start adding vowel teams, spellings of /er/, and things like, it gets a bit difficult to remember what you have gone over, for me anyway.

More Emphasis on the Whys (decoding and encoding are 2 different ball games)

There is more emphasis and reasoning in AAS on the why’s. Decoding a group of letters set in front of you is a very different task than pulling letters and letter teams out of your memory from different options.

For instance, it is one thing to read the word  “slow” and a completely different thing to decide between the many ways to spell the sound of /o/. (oa,ow,o-e)  

Read faster than they spell

Many kids catch on to reading more quickly than they do spelling. This is self-explanatory and I am currently experiencing this. I’m using both AAR and AAS with my older daughter but with my younger daughter, I have been practicing spelling along with each lesson within the reading program. My younger daughter needed more practice hearing the sounds and spelling words on a particular lesson but could easily read those same words. So we are now on 2 different lessons even though we are using only AAR.

Organized For You

Having separate word cards for each subject helps to keep everything organized and know where your student is in each subject. If my daughter can read the word “slow” but has trouble spelling it I can put it under the mastered section in reading and under the review section in spelling (not that both programs have the same word cards, just an example).

Attentive time

Sometimes our kiddos have a limited amount of focused attention time. It’s beneficial to have the option to use that time on what we choose. We can easily choose reading or spelling since the two are separate.


I wanted to mention homophones because the All About Learning article did. It is an added component but if you are a decent speller and are confident teaching spelling I don’t think AAS adds much in teaching this, except reminding you to teach them.


  • Level 1 and 2 are super easy especially if you have already been working in AAR. I’m not saying they aren’t useful but it picks up a bit in level 3.
  • If you use AAR to teach spelling I suggest at least using the key card rules.
  • Phonogram practice is the most redundant part when using both AAR and AAS. Phonogram review is for people who don’t use AAR or if your student is struggling with a particular phonogram.

In conclusion…

I think All About Spelling adds enough to spelling instruction to be worth it. Though I do think it’s very possible to teach spelling with only AAR with some extra work. I will continue using only AAR with my younger daughter. It will work until…it doesn’t. I predict eventually her reading will far surpass her spelling to the point where it will be worth it for us to use the programs separately. But for now, we will keep doing what works and wait and see.

Thanks for coming by. Don’t forget to check out what we are up to over on our Instagram. This post about teaching tips for All About Reading is an excellent next read.