spelling workout

How to Use Spelling Workout

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Want to know how to use Spelling Workout to teach your kids to spell?

Sometimes it seems like spelling programs are complicated and time-consuming. It’s tedious trying to figure out what to do when. Not so with Spelling Workout. It’s a delightfully simple program that gradually teaches the spelling rules over the years.

Using Spelling Workout

Spelling Workout is a workbook spelling program produced by Modern Curriculum Press. It begins with level A which reviews letter sounds and ends with level H which includes words of Latin, Greek, and French roots.

Spelling Workout is designed to be used over the course of 8 years. Level A is the 1st-grade workbook, while Level H is the 8th-grade workbook. There are 36 lessons per workbook, as you are meant to complete one lesson a week.

The lessons are short, so if your child is strong in spelling you can easily complete 1.5-2 lessons a week. I prefer to keep to 1 lesson a week even with a strong speller. Moving at a slower pace keeps the lessons short and my child enthusiastic.

Weekly Plan for Using Spelling Workout

First, you need a notebook divided into 2 sections to accompany the workbook. The 1st section is for the spelling rules. The 2nd section is for the Word Locker, or words your child misses.


Give your child the pretest right off the bat and note the words your child misses with a star or check in the workbook. You’ll want to give extra attention to these words over the week.

After the pretest read the first page of the spelling lesson together. This page introduces the spelling list by giving the spelling words in context. It’s a wonderful reading practice to have your child read the page aloud. You can quickly find any mispronunciations right off the back.


Have your kid copy the spelling rule of the week into the first section of the notebook. Kids love to skip this step, so hover over your child or double-check to be certain it’s done and done correctly. Remember to give a few examples of the spelling rule in use.

Once your child has copied the spelling rule of the week, turn to the 2nd page of the workbook. Have your child finish this page on their own.

Now sit down together to look at the spelling words missed on Monday. Review the rules and analyze the spelling rule as it applies to the missed words.


The third page of the workbook usually spelling puzzles. It’s a popular page in my house. Assign your child to complete the 3rd page of the lesson.

You’ll want to have your child review their trouble words and apply the spelling rule to the words again. Afterward, it’s a good idea to copy the words three times each on a piece of paper.


It’s time for the fourth and final page of the weekly lesson. This page includes both an editing and writing assignment.

I’ve insisted the kids complete the editing assignment. It’s great practice for editing their own work and learning editorial markings. We usually skip the writing assignment though.

However, if seeing the spelling words written incorrectly is an issue for your child, skip the editing assignment and use the writing assignment instead.

Again, you’ll want to review the trouble words and apply the spelling rule to these words.


It’s time for the post-test. Any words that are missed on this test should be placed in the word locker to be reviewed later.

If you’d like to continue to review words that were missed on Monday, but spelled correctly on Friday, go ahead and put these words in the locker as well.

After all, I know my children sometimes spell a word correctly after studying it for a week but need to review it periodically to retain the correct spelling permanently.

You can also put any words that your child misspells in writing assignments into the word locker for later study as well. The word locker is simply a place to store words you’d like to review regularly to ensure they’re learned.

Review Week

Every few weeks Spelling Workout has a review week. During this week, complete the lesson pages at a rate of 1 page a day while reviewing the words in the word locker. Be certain to apply the spelling rules to the words.

At the end of the review week, test your child on all words in the word locker. Any words your child now knows how to spell confidently can be removed from the word locker.

It’s the constant review of the spelling rules as applied to the spelling list and words misspelled in the child’s writing that gently drills the words into the child’s head.

Over time the rules introduced and reviewed in Spelling Workout become internalized through this gentle and constant review.

It’s a simple matter of Slow and Steady Wins the Race applied to spelling.

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spelling workout

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  1. I’ve looked into Spelling Workout before, but wasn’t convinced to buy it. I’ve just been doing my own thing, using the rules in The Writing Road to Reading. I wonder if these workbooks wouldn’t be better for us. I should really just get one and try it out. Thanks for your review of it…very helpful!

    1. Do you use your own list or the list from The Writing Road to Reading? Spelling is such an individualized subject that being able to target the specific words your child needs to learn can be the best option. 🙂

    1. If a child answers all the pretest words correctly you have a few choices.
      1. Go ahead and do the work (or pick one or two pages), but skip the post-test.
      2. Skip spelling for a week.
      3. Do the next pretest.

      My preference would be to assign the first two pages (to cement the spelling rule we were studying) and call it good for the week, but there’s no reason not to just move on to the next lesson. 🙂

  2. What do you do in book A? It seems the format is a little different. Do you even test at this level?

    1. The format is different in book A. Right now my 1st grade daughter is working through book A. We’re working through the worksheets on letter sounds for the first 5 weeks. Week 6 begins the spelling lessons. I will be testing at this level. My daughter loves to write and spell, so I expect she’ll adore the spelling tests.

      However my strong suggestion is to play it by ear. If testing is going to be stressful for your child, just complete the worksheets and call it good. 🙂

    1. It’s simply a place to put words your child misspells so you can keep working on those words. The terminology is specific to Spelling Workout. 🙂

  3. IF the word locker is just for misspelled words, is there a separate place that you keep a list of all the words the child knows? Do you cross words off the list once learned? Thank you

    1. I don’t keep track of the words my children know how to spell and never thought about it. If you want to keep track of the words your child knows, I’d either cross them off the list once learned or make notes in the index.

  4. Hello! I am actually on the phone with the publisher of this curriculum but not finding much help. I see that you mention “spelling rules.” That is exactly what I am having trouble with. In each lesson it tells me to introduce the spelling rules, but it doesn’t tell me where to find the spelling rules or what spelling rules that is. I see there are some spelling rules at the end of the teacher’s manual, but again, no reference to what lesson it applies to. Could you tell me where I can find the spelling rules that each lesson refers to? Thank you!

    1. It is confusing! Spelling Workout doesn’t write: Spelling Rule. However I would consider the “tip” on the spelling practice page to be the spelling rule and treat it as such. 🙂

  5. hi there, thank you for this post; it’s really helpful! this sounds like a great program. i’m wondering if you have thoughts about coming in to Spelling Workout midstream. is there a way to assess what level my child should be coming in at? she tends to be a very good speller and will be in 6th next year. thank you!

  6. Hi, I was wondering if I will need to purchase the student workbook as well as the teachers edition? Can the teachers edition be sufficient? Thanks

    1. Actually, I would do the opposite. Spelling Workout is a workbook so you need the student workbook. But I found I didn’t need the teacher’s edition until the kids reached the upper levels. So pick up the student’s workbook, take a look at it, and decide if you also need the teacher’s edition. There’s a good chance you’ll be just fine without it. 🙂

  7. Thank you Sarah for sharing your day to day schedule with Spelling Workout. We are still new to it and so far loving it.
    I will definitely be applying some of your tips into our weekly routines.

    Have a wonderful day

  8. Hi! Thank you for this valuable resource. We are transitioning from public school to homeschool and both of my kids are very strong spellings so I’m hesitant to buy their exact grade levels. Do you know if there is a place where I can see samples of 3rd – 6th? Thank you

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