One of the most significant investments you will make as a school is buying into a spelling and handwriting scheme. You’ve got to get it right. If you don’t then don’t be surprised if you have a few tumbleweed moments in the staffroom when your KS1 results are as dull as dishwater - remember, colleagues have long memories and you could end up doing the summer fête for the next 10 years as punishment…
Nelson Phonics Spelling and Handwriting is a shiny new series that allows you to mix and mingle phonics, handwriting and spelling together with your synthetic phonics course. It fully supports the renewed Literacy Framework and the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence, and will sit comfortably next to the DCSF Letters and Sounds and Jolly Phonics. It’s a bit of a head turner too.
The CD-ROM is ideal for use with whiteboard work and you won’t need any carabiners to help children climb and progress. The activities are just the job and won’t fail to make an impact and engage. The letter formation animations are excellent and the interactive activities to match are spot on for the 4–7 age group. You will find extensive word banks and timed activities and some great handwriting and spelling games that children will want to play over and over again. The CD includes the full array of phonemes, graphemes, alternative spellings and spelling rules.
The Teacher’s Book will also prove very useful. A lot of thought and work has gone into creating it and it’s paid off. It has a very informative introduction and a superb step by step guide on how to get the best out of the programme. The lesson planning is top notch with everything you are likely to need. Be careful not to turn off your brain though as very often comprehensive schemes like this can silence the creativity screaming behind the triple glazing of bullet points.
The pupil books in this series are good to go with some neat and amusing illustrations children will latch onto. The activities are reassuringly differentiated and dovetailed appropriately. The pupil workbooks are simple, shipshape and serve their purpose. They come in three levels with builtin differentiation and plenty of practise exercises. Perhaps there could be more lines to practise letters, though, as these are soon filled up.
The whole phonics debate appears to be lost in translation. If there was a magic bullet available to us then children would all sharp shooters by now. A 3D solution is needed to address different individual needs and that means drawing from diverse sources to support and inspire. Nelson Phonics would be something I’d confidently add to my literacy basket (I wouldn’t be too worried about the summer fête!). The prices aren’t exactly high street, but they’re not ‘designer’ either. You get what you pay for, and here you are getting a reliable engine that will get you from A to B and hopefully Z with a couple of go faster stripes thrown in too. You can view what’s on offer in this excellent scheme by visiting the Nelson Thornes website and registering for sample resource material.