Spelling Power Review

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Spelling lessons can sometimes be a chore for both parents and students. 

With short, straightforward, multisensory and activity rich lessons, Spelling Power can be a very effective and surprisingly easy way for students to improve their spelling in a less stressful, more engaging way.

What We Like

Compact – not a lot of extra workbooks and materials to buy and store
Can teach students from grade 1 to grade 12 and beyond
Easy to use, open and go teaching
Lessons and practice are very multisensory
Lots of interesting activities to help build skill – no boring workbook drill
Lessons can be very short and to the point
Very efficient program with students focusing in on the areas where they need the most help
Very easy for parents to individualize

But watch out for

Not quite as much direct and detailed in-lesson spelling rule instruction as some other programs
Can involve a lot of spelling tests

What is Spelling Power?

Created by veteran homeschooler and author Beverly L. Adams-Gordon in 1993, Spelling power is a multisensory, Orton-Gillingham inspired homeschool spelling program. 

Through a combination of short lessons, hands-on activities and directed practice, students learn to spell 5000+ frequently used (and misspelled) words while strengthening their understanding of the underlying phonetic principles and spelling rules. 

What Ages Or Grades Is Spelling Power Intended For?

Spelling Power is ostensibly aimed at students in grades 3-12+, or from about the age of 8 and up. 

That said, it is designed to be used as a homeschool spelling program and therefore can be used by students of any age or grade, including precocious learners and older students who struggle with spelling, so long as they have a basic understanding of phonics and their reading and comprehension skills can handle the material, i.e. are at second grade reading level or above. 


There are 11 levels in Spelling Power, each with their own word lists grouped by different spelling and phonemic rules, so it can be a little tricky for parents switching into the program to know where to start. 

Helpfully, Spelling Power offers a placement test that parents can administer at the start of the program. 

Actually, there are three tests – a survey test, a diagnostic and some fine tuning quizzes.

The survey test lets parents know which placement test to administer. 

It is a long (50) list of words that parents read aloud and students try their best to spell and that ends when a student misses three in a row or six words non-consecutively.

picture of survey test from spelling power level a

Based on the score of the survey, parents then administer a more formal diagnostic test for a given level. 

This diagnostic test is straightforward enough. 

Students are read a list of words and sentences and try their best to spell them out.

picture of placement test in spelling power manual

Based on the number of misspellings, a handy chart located in the manual will give parents an idea of whether their student is ready for that level or not (or ready for the next one, for that matter).

picture of diagnostic chart from spelling power

In the case where things are still a bit uncertain, the program also has smaller word list quizzes that it uses to fine tune the results of the diagnostic test further. 

Overall, it can be more work to place a student into the appropriate level with Spelling Power than with other programs, and doing several tests over the period of a few days can be a little much for some students.

That said, the ready charts, approximate grade leveling and step-by-step process do make the tests pretty easy to administer and, in our opinion, they can yield more precise and more detailed information about a students abilities and readiness than a single test can provide.

What’s Required To Teach Spelling Power? 

Spelling Power is a pretty compact spelling program all things considered, i.e. there aren’t a lot of workbooks or other materials that parents will have to buy, store and keep track of. 

By and large, the program mainly involves a manual and some pre-formatted student record books, although there are some optional materials and teaching aids that parents can buy to enhance the program, as well.

Spelling Power Manual

At the core of Spelling Power is its manual. 

The manual is a 330-page, orange-covered, black and white, non-consumable paperback  that contains more or less everything a parent would need to teach Spelling Power. 

Inside, parents can find various diagnostic tests, background information about the program, an overview of its approach, the various word lists, a list of and instructions for suggested activities and exercises, as well as a variety of teaching tips and resources.

The Spelling Power manual is fairly thick and essentially jam-packed with information, strategies, and differentiation/individualization ideas. 

Unlike many other spelling guides out there, it goes far beyond providing parents with a simple list of words to dictate and work with and, as a result, it can be fairly intimidating at first glance. 

That said, although parents will eventually have to go through at least most of the book, both in order to absorb the nuances of the program and in order to better adapt its ideas to their student’s needs,  the Spelling Power manual does helpfully come with a section called “Quick Start Steps” that can get parents up and running quickly by guiding them through the placement tests and by giving them an overview of lessons.

Interestingly, the manual also comes with a Quick Start DVD, which is essentially a 60 minute walkthrough of the program. 

The video clips go through the basic approach of the program and can be helpful for those just starting out as they demonstrates the placement process, lesson structure, activities and more through recorded interactions between real parents and students. 

Student Record Books

The student record books are where students largely work during lessons.

These are strip bound books that look very much like traditional composition books, which in a sense they are. 

The student record books contain the different specifically formatted pages that are used throughout the program, including daily test pages, 10-Step Study pages and room for the various level more comprehensive tests and reviews that are sprinkled throughout each level, which we’ll talk about a little more later on.  

The books are mono color and printed in a light blue ink that can, at times, be a little harder to see (such as in lower light), but they do allow student responses to stand out a bit more. 

These student record books come in three colors (blue, green and yellow), each of which differ slightly in their spacing and number of lines, meaning that they each are designed to work with different levels of penmanship. 

The blue books are triple lined with wide, half-inch spacing, making them most suitable for young students and those still struggling with keeping their handwriting appropriately-sized and spaced. 

The green books, meanwhile, have slightly narrower spacing (⅜”), while the yellow books come in a standard, two-line format, making them best suited for older students and those with more advanced handwriting skills. 

While it certainly is possible to forgo the use of these student record books and simply use the manual, it would make the process of using Spelling Power fairly time consuming. 

The formatted sheets in the books are specifically designed to follow the program’s very systematic methods, and they do make going through lessons a lot easier and more efficient. 

Replicating them or printing them out from the CD can some time and, with each student book lasting about a half-year and costing less than $10, doing so probably isn’t the best use of a parent’s time. 

Optional Materials and Teaching Aids

Beyond the manual and student books, Spelling Power offers a number of supplemental materials that, while perhaps not strictly necessary to teach the program, can enhance learning.

Activity Task Cards

While the Spelling Power manual does contain a good number of activity and game suggestions to be used in the final part of each lesson, the company also offers optional color-coded task cards parents can buy that include even more suggestions.

These cards are designed to suit a variety of different grade and skill groups, as well as serving various needs, interests and abilities. 

picture of a box of activity cards in spelling power

They can, for example, have a student go outside and write their words on the sidewalk in chalk, do some simple word matching exercises, write a short story or letter, find some word types in a newspaper, look up definitions in the dictionary and much, much more. 

There are, broadly speaking, five types of activities in the set, including:

  • Drill activities
  • Skill builders
  • Writing prompts
  • Dictionary skills
  • Homonyms and more

Most of these Activity Task cards can be done independently, as they provide enough instructional detail and guidance to let students complete each task on their own. 

This can free parents up to work with siblings or on the myriad of other tasks that homeschooling can involve, which is nice. 

Word Card Box

Over the course of Spelling Power, students might want to record the words they misspell or otherwise want to remember on cards that they can use for later review. 

Spelling Power’s Word Card Box can make this process a bit easier and a lot more organized. 

It is a clear, pretty sturdy plastic box containing about 400 color-coded cards that students can use for different word groups and types, with dividers that can help students divide up their cards for daily, weekly and monthly review. 

Magnetic Letter Tiles

As with other programs, such as Logic of English and All About Spelling, Spelling Power also offers an optional (and, at 192-pieces, quite expansive) set of magnetic tiles that can be integrated into lesson activities. 

These tiles can add another hands-on component to spelling, letting students break apart and build words without needing to write things down.

This can make them a great option for tactile learners, as well as a more stress-free practice option for those with handwriting difficulties. 

They even come with a little plastic box of their own, which can make them a lot easier to store and keep track of.

Spelling Power: Approach to Teaching 

Orton-Gillingham Inspired

Spelling Power is inspired by and incorporates many Orton-Gillingham techniques for teaching spelling.

The learning itself explicitly covers phonemic spelling rules and patterns throughout its lessons, highlighting and teaching specific rules and commonalities that students can follow to spell words more accurately. 

And its does so in a pretty systematic way, with logical and consistent procedures for learning in each lesson, teaching, testing and reinforcing words and concepts in the same manner, which allows students to become more comfortable with the program and more receptive to learning.

Further, the program follows a well-laid out and clear scope and sequence, with word lists grouped by phonic and spelling rules, starting with the most basic concepts and very gradually ramping up the difficulty as students move forward. 

Although this step-by-step and cumulative approach to learning can require a little more care when placing students in the appropriate level, its sequential nature can also make learning a lot less overwhelming for students.  

Finally, Spelling Power lessons integrate a good deal of multisensory learning and activities, which we will discuss below.

Word List-Based

Spelling Power is a list-based spelling program, basing its learning on 5000 high frequency (and often troublesome) words, which form the core of the daily lessons and practice activities. 

Although not everyone’s favorite method of spelling study, the individual word lists are pretty short and are well laid out and organized, grouped as they are by common rules and patterns, which can help students learn important phonemic spelling rules as they go. 

Interestingly, and unlike most other spelling programs out there, while students will go through the entire word list during the first few minutes of a lesson, they will spend most of their time working on and reviewing those they misspell.

As a result, in Spelling Power students tend to focus more of their time working on what they need rather than practicing what they already are familiar with, making it a little more efficient than some other programs out there. 

Multisensory Learning

Lessons in Spelling Power are highly multisensory. 

As part of the process of introducing/reviewing word lists, students will listen, orally repeat and then write down their lesson’s words. 

In addition, as part of the lesson’s word review, students will write things down, work on their pronunciation, visualize their work, and even trace words on textured surfaces. 

Further, each lesson’s practice component is replete with activities and exercises that can get kids up and moving around, eschewing typical workbook exercises in favor of activities like going outside and working with chalk, recording their pronunciation, working with letter tiles, physically stringing words together with letter beads and much, much more. 

Not only can multisensory lesson activities be a lot more fun compared to using a workbook, but (as with other instances of multisensory learning) they do tend to activate more cognitive pathways, which can lead to better retention of information in the long run.

Further, by engaging students visually, audibly and tactilely, Spelling Power can be a lot more engaging and interesting for students with different learning styles.  

Short Lessons

Finally, each lesson in Spelling power is intended to be short and to the point, ideally taking only around 15 minutes or so to complete (comprising a 5 minute daily test, a 5 minute word review/study and budgeting 5 minutes for an activity). 

As a result, the program’s lessons aren’t as potentially overwhelming or intimidating to students as some other programs out there that can involve multiple workbook exercises that take some time to work through (such as Megawords, for example). 

It also means that Spelling Power lessons can more easily slide into most homeschool schedules. 

That said, how long a lesson actually takes can really depend on an individual student’s skill and ability, with its daily activities and 10-Step Study pages taking some students a little longer than five minutes to go through and complete properly. 

How it Works

As mentioned previously, Spelling power is centered around its manual, and it is parent-led, with parents introducing new word lists to students each lesson.

The manual is divided into 11 different levels, A-K, and parents determine where students should start by administering a series of placement tests. 

Parents start by administering a survey test. This introductory test helps parents know which specific level’s placement test to administer. 

The survey test is essentially a 50-word spelling test that parents go through until students make a certain number of mistakes, either 3 in a row or 6 non-sequentially. 

Following this, students then take a full diagnostic placement test. 

These tests involve a shorter list of words and students are evaluated based on how many errors they make in total.

Once they are in the right level, students begin to work through that level’s series of word lists, known as Flow Word Lists.

Spelling Power lessons are essentially composed of three steps, each of which is intended to take about 5 minutes. These are: 

  1. A daily review and test
  2. 10-Step Study Sheet
  3. Skill Building Activities

Step 1: The Daily Test

Each lesson in Spelling Power starts off by reviewing any challenging words from previous lessons and a short spelling test that introduces new words from that lesson’s Flow Word List. 

picture of flow-word lists in spelling power

These words are all grouped by particular spelling rules and patterns, as can be seen below.

Students generally start off by writing out or otherwise learning the rule and then engaging in a pretty standard spelling test. 

Parents say each word, use it in a sentence and then repeat the word again. 

Students, meanwhile, say the word aloud, write it down and then repeat the word aloud to signal their readiness to move on.

Once the test is complete, parents and students go through it together, identifying any words the students misspelled. 

picture of test page in student record book for spelling power

These will form the basis of the second step.

Step 2: 10-Step Study Sheet

After the daily test, students begin a process of structured and deliberate review of only the words they’ve misspelled using a particular 10-step process, outlined on a specific sheet in their workbook. 

picture of 10 step study sheet from spelling power

This 10 step process involves: 

  1. Saying the word
  2. Looking at its parts
  3. Saying the letters and spelling it
  4. Closing their eyes, visualizing the word and spelling it
  5. Checking their spelling
  6. Tracing the words on a textured surface
  7. Checking their spelling
  8. Actually writing the word out
  9. Checking their spelling again
  10. Repeating the process as needed.

Students then have the opportunity to write each word as part of a sentence, providing them with an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of its meaning and to use it in the proper context. 

Finally, any words that give students any particular trouble can be highlighted and marked for specific review and testing at the start of the next lesson. 

Similarly, any repeated misspellings can be further marked to check for any potential gaps in spelling or phonetic knowledge and skill.

Step 3: Skill-Building Exercises

After carefully going through and reviewing each word they misspelled on their daily test, students move on to the final part of each lesson where they can work on solidifying their knowledge and skill through a variety of suggested games and drills.

At the back of the Spelling Power manual is a fairly substantial list of suggested activities that parents can choose from based on the needs, abilities and interests of their student. 

picture of suggested activities in spelling power

These activities are quite varied and diverse and, as mentioned earlier, can be very multisensory. 

Some examples of possible activities include some fairly typical workbook-style drill (matching words to meanings, for example), having students take a magic marker to a pane of glass and working through their word list, using letter tiles, playing spelling bee twister, working with beads and so on. 

Busier homeschooling parents will be happy to know that many (though not all) of these activities can be completed by students working independently, particularly if parents lay out the instructions on activity cards ahead of time (or buy them from the company).


Finally, each level in Spelling Power contains a good deal of review and revision.

picture showing review test for spelling words level

There are six review tests/word lists sprinkled throughout each level usually after every 4-5 lessons, as well as a delayed recall test set about halfway through, as well as a more cumulative end of level test.  

These assessments can help parents figure out how well a student is actually retaining spelling knowledge and skill over time, and can help flag any specific skill or knowledge deficits for further review and practice, which is kind of helpful. 

Our Thoughts

Overall, we feel that Spelling Power lessons are pretty straightforward and easy to work with.

The program not only offers parents and students a list of pretty frequently used words to study (5000 in the manual and a supplemental databank of another 12000 on an accompanying teacher’s resource CD), but a very structured and consistent approach to learning that can be very effective, as well. 

The 10-Step Study Sheet provides students with a lot of guided practice in their spelling and allows them to do so in a variety of different ways and by using different senses while doing so, providing them with ample practice for each word without becoming too boring and repetitive. 

Further, the daily testing and focus on misspelled words, rather than the whole list, means that students don’t need to spend a lot of time working on words (and concepts) that they already know and can therefore spend more time working on the words and concepts they don’t. 

As a result, the program can be said to be a lot more efficient in this regard, with a good deal less potentially frustrating busywork than other programs.  

We liked the fact that phonetic spelling rules are woven into the program through the carefully arranged word lists, as these can make spelling a lot more understandable and less stressful for students in the long run, providing them with strategies and rules of thumb they can fall back on when they need to spell unfamiliar words. 

In addition, Spelling Power lessons can be very customizable and personalizable.

Parents are free to pick from a myriad of suggested activities in the book to add to each lesson or come up with their own based on their student’s interests. 

Finally, we like the fact that Spelling Power lessons are quite short. 

Although not every student will necessarily be able to complete the testing, 10-Step Study Sheet and activity in 15 minutes, there isn’t a lot of excessive workbook exercises and drill in these lessons either. 

As a result, Spelling Power lessons can fit into even the busiest schedules without much of an issue and can be a good option for students who find spelling to be overwhelming and those whose attentions tend to wander. 

On the downside, although it is an Orton-Gillingham inspired program that does explicitly teach spelling rules and patterns, and provides a good deal of background in its manual for parents, Spelling Power doesn’t offer quite as much in the way of direct and detailed explanations as to why and how spelling rules and patterns work during lessons compared to some other programs, such as Logic of English or Spell to Write and Read

It is also a very spelling test-heavy program, with not only daily quizzes but also cumulative tests and reviews throughout each level, which can make things a bit stressful for some students. 

How Easy is Spelling Power to Teach?

Although the manual can be fairly intimidating to flip through at first glance, we believe Spelling Power to be pretty easy to use once parents get the hang of it. 

The lessons are very consistent and well-organized, following a pretty set procedure that doesn’t require a lot of prep work or effort to go through on the part of parents. 

The world lists are also quite well-organized, grouping words by rule and pattern, which can make identifying deficits in knowledge and skill fairly intuitive.

 If a student suddenly has trouble with a particular list, chances are they are less familiar with a given phonemic spelling rule, which parents can then focus on.

One thing parents should be aware of, however, is that Spelling Power isn’t really all that scripted. 

Lessons are parent-led and, beyond laying down an essential structure of activities, rely more on a parent’s natural interaction with their student to guide them through lessons and don’t really provide much in the way of a word-for-word dialogue.

Similarly, while the program does offer a lot of options for skill-building activities, it is ultimately up to parents to decide which they should use in any given lesson. 

While this lack of scripting and openness can be ideal for many homeschoolers who prefer to individualize learning as much as possible, and maybe even put their own spin on teaching, new homeschoolers and those uncertain about their own ability to teach spelling may have to put in more thought and will need to rely on the many tips and suggestions in the manual for help in doing so.

Pros And Cons


Affordable, compact curriculum for grades 1-12

Spelling Power is a very affordable and compact spelling program.

The core component of Spelling Power comes in the form of a single manual, which covers 5000 high frequency words, can be used to teach spelling for grades 1-12 and beyond and typically can be found for under $70. 

Once this manual is purchased, the program can be used again and again with parents only really having to buy a couple consumable student record books each year.

Fairly easy to use, open and go

Although its approach to teaching spelling can be a little different for some parents, Spelling Power’s lessons are actually pretty clear, straightforward and require very little in the way of prep work on the part of parents.

Lessons are very multisensory

Spelling Power lessons teach spelling using a variety of multisensory activities and exercises. 

Throughout the program’s lessons and skill-building activities, students may write, listen, draw, speak, get hands-on or even get up and move around, making it able to suit a variety of learning preferences and styles. 

Activity rich spelling practice

Unlike many other spelling programs, Spelling Power’s lessons don’t involve tons of plain workbook activities. 

Instead, students are often challenged to build their spelling skills through a wide selection of hands-on exercises, games and other activities that make learning a lot more interesting and interactive.

Short lessons

Spelling Power lessons are designed to be short, designed to take around 15 minutes or so to complete. 

As a result, learning can be a lot less stressful and intimidating for students, particularly those with shorter attention spans and who have had a bad time learning to spell in the past. 

Efficient with very little busywork

Unlike many other spelling programs, with Spelling Power students really focus on the words that they have a hard time spelling, rather than drilling a complete word list. 

This allows them to spend more time working on the skills, knowledge and words they need the most improvement on. 

Easy to customize

While Spelling Power uses a particular structure to approach its word lists, it does leave a lot of room (and offers a lot of advice) for parents to customize to their own student’s needs, such as providing room to introduce custom activities, introduce the material using their natural style and more. 


Not as much detailed phonemic spelling instruction as some other programs

While Spelling Power does introduce and go over spelling rules and patterns, it doesn’t have quite as much formal, direct and detailed instruction in the hows and whys as some other programs out there.

Lots of testing

Spelling Power includes a lot of tests as part of its program, including several placement tests, daily spelling tests and periodic assessments of knowledge and skill. 

As a result, it can be a little more stressful for some students. 

Who Is Spelling Power Ideal For?

Homeschools looking for a multisensory spelling program

Many homeschools have students who prefer to learn in more visual, auditory, tactile or kinesthetic ways. 

Spelling Power weaves multisensory learning pretty tightly into its lessons, with students listening, verbalizing their spelling, writing things down, tracing letters with their fingers, and much, much more.  

Those looking for a structured, easy to follow and use spelling program

Spelling Power offers homeschools very consistent lessons that approach teaching spelling in a very systematic, three part manner. 

These lessons require very little prep work on the part of parents and can be completed in a very short amount of time. 

Those looking for an activity rich alternative to spelling workbooks

Some students do well with a standard workbook-style program, while others can become frustrated by the prospect of filling out page after page of written work. 

In addition to daily tests and 10-step review, Spelling Power suggests a wide variety of activities, games, hands-on exercises and drills that can be very interactive, engaging and, dare we say it, fun.

Those looking for a program that can grow with their student

Spelling Power is a rather comprehensive program that can be used to teach spelling to students in grades 1-12 and beyond. 

As such, its single manual can be used and reused as students progress in their studies. 

Students who get frustrated by long and involved lessons

With its short (15 min) lessons, which themselves are divided into ~5 minute increments, Spelling Power can be a very approachable program for students who can become overwhelmed and frustrated by longer spelling lessons. 

Who Is It Not Ideal For?

Students who get anxious with testing

Some students have a hard time with assessment, becoming anxious and performing poorly when tested.

As we’ve mentioned, Spelling Power does involve quite a bit of testing throughout each level and this can make the program a little more stressful for these students. 

Those looking for an illustrated, colorful manual 

Ultimately, Spelling Power is a very black and white, text-heavy program, so students (and parents) really won’t find a lot of colorful or interesting drawings or illustrations to look at while working. 

Those looking for a digital spelling program

Spelling Power is, for the most part, a pen and paper spelling program. While it does suggest a number of interesting and fun hands-on activities for students to try, and while there are some extra teacher’s resources available, there are no fancy apps, video games or adaptive spelling programs for students to try out on their computer or mobile device.


Note: Prices correct as of writing. All prices in USD. 

As mentioned previously, there are several components to Spelling Power that parents can purchase, with the core components being the program manual and student record books and optional components, such as its activity task cards, word bank box and letter tiles, serving to enhance the learning and/or save parents considerable time and effort. 


Spelling Power Manual – $64.95

Student Record Book – $7.95 each 


Activity Task Cards – $32.95

Magnetic Letter Tiles – $37.95

Word Bank Box – $29.95 



Is It Worth The Price?

Spelling Power can be a very affordable spelling curriculum overall. Despite this, however, we believe it can offer a lot of value to homeschooling families.

It is a very compact curriculum whose manual can be used to help students in grades 1 to 12 (and beyond) work on their spelling. 

Its lessons are highly efficient, letting students work on the words and areas they need the most help in, and at around 15 minutes long they are less likely to cause students to zone out during their studies and they can easily fit just about any busy homeschool schedule. 

Further, lessons in Spelling Power are multisensory and activity rich, making them very engaging for students and capable of suiting a fairly wide variety of learning styles. 

Finally, the program is very customizable. 

Although it does offer a broad structure for learning, it does leave enough room for parents to put their own twist on learning and even bring in their own custom activities, should they so choose. 

Bottom Line

Spelling lessons can sometimes be a chore for both parents and students. 

With short, straightforward, multisensory and activity rich lessons, Spelling Power can be a very effective and surprisingly easy way for students to improve their spelling in a less stressful, more engaging way.

Picture of our author and editor Anne Miller

About the Author

Anne Miller is the editor of The Smarter Learning Guide and is a passionate advocate for education and educational technology. A mom of two, she majored in English Language and Literature and worked as a substitute teacher and tutor for several years. When not writing she continues to root for the Yankees and the Giants.