The right form of words;Cross-phase;Books;Reviews;General

18th June 1999 at 01:00
PATHWAY TO SPELLING. By John Mulhern. Albion Educational pound;17.99. PO Box 46, Bexhill, East Sussex TN40 2ZX

KEY WORDS SPELLING. By Shirley Clarke and Barry Silsby. Hodder amp; Stoughton pound;16.99

MIND YOUR SPELLING. By Sue Palmer and Peter Brinton. Longman pound;5.99

THE WIZARD'S SPELLING TOOLBOX. By Julie Casey. Barnstormer Books pound;85

A sizeable chunk of the population has trouble with spelling and, while many adults will defiantly proclaim their lack of skill with numbers, people are more shamefaced about being unable to spell their mother tongue.

Pathway to Spelling says spelling must never be allowed to become an obstacle to expression. Amen to that.

The photocopiable worksheets involve too many exercises of the "write five interesting sentences of your own using a base word with a silent e, plus an ending..." variety. No, I didn't understand it the first time either. Aimed at key stages 2 and 3, the exercises are, in the main, appropriate and useful.

Key Words Spelling is a series of tests and word lists focusing on the visual aspect of learning spelling and based on words most commonly used by pupils in their writing.

The worksheets are useful for assessment and the word lists could be used with those in the National Literacy Strategy.

First published in 1988, Mind Your Spelling is well-designed and links spelling to grammar and handwriting (advocates of cursive script argue that it helps spelling). A set of pupils' books might be useful in each year group at junior school.

The Wizard's Spelling Toolbox ("spell" - "wizard", geddit?) will appeal to many children, particularly the 20 per cent of seven to 14-year-olds of average or above average ability who have difficulty retaining basic spelling, and consequently feel inadequate and demotivated.

The audiotapes make it ideal for literacy hour independent activities, and the photocopiable workbooks systematically work through spelling rules. Module 1, day 1, asks the pupil to draw five "vowel pictures" and "pin the page up on the wall to look at every day". But, unfortunately, module 1, day 2, is printed on the reverse of the day 1 sheet, now proudly pinned to your classroom wall.

Kevin Harcombe is head of Orchard Lea junior school, Fareham, Hampshire

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