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By Bonnie Terry, M.Ed.

Published by Bonnie Terry Learning • 238 Poet Smith Drive, Auburn, CA.  95603 • 530-888-7160 - Available at

Review by Linda K. Foster

Poor spelling creates a bad impression! How many times have you read a business letter or email containing misspelled words and found yourself questioning the competency of the business? At some point during the past decade, learning to spell seemed to fall out of favor and, as a result, test scores and the literacy rate dropped significantly. The advent of “spell check” increased our dependence upon the computer and decreased our need and desire to learn to spell. Unfortunately, “spell check” was not the cure-all it was purported to be and correspondence sometimes bordering on illiterate is often the result.  

Making Spelling Sense 1 & 2
Click to visit Bonnie Terry Learning's web site

Fortunately, it seems that spelling is now “making a comeback” and its impact on reading and writing skills is being recognized. Recent studies have shown that students with a solid foundation in spelling display enhanced fluency in reading, writing and vocabulary and demonstrate more clarity in thinking. 

Making Spelling Sense and Making Spelling Sense II by Bonnie Terry, M.Ed. offer a spelling program designed to incorporate visual, auditory and tactile modes of learning with the goal of making spelling make sense. Ms. Terry is an educator with over 30 years’ experience teaching regular education and special education students. She has a degree in Elementary Education and special Education and a M.Ed. degree in Special Education. She is both a teacher and a developer of educational games and books that are used worldwide and the course of study offered in her Spelling Sense books takes the mystery out of spelling, revealing the structure of the English language and proving that “...if we teach spelling according to the structure, everyone can spell!”

Making Spelling Sense is a step-by-step, logical learning progression approach to spelling 500 of the most commonly used words in the English language. As noted by Ms. Terry, “It is phonetically and sequentially based. It also strengthens visual perception through the exercises the students do and strengthens auditory perception with our special method for doing the practice tests.” The program is based on the concept that there are eight basic spelling patterns in the English language.

These eight patterns, i.e., vowel/ consonant, vowel/vowel, vowel and the letter r, etc., form the basis for learning to spell nearly every word in the English language, with the exception of a few that don’t follow the patterns and must be learned by sight. Making Spelling Sense devotes forty-six lessons to teaching these eight patterns. Each lesson contains an easily understood and well-written description of a spelling pattern and then offers a variety of fun and challenging student assignments. Students identify patterns in various words and use word puzzles, word search and sentence completion exercises to reinforce the principles of each lesson.

Once the eight basic spelling patterns are mastered, students learn about borrowed and silent letters, suffixes, open and closed syllables and prefixes. Rules and examples for each of these additional principles are clearly written and easily understood and serve to enhance the learning experience.

Making Spelling Sense II provides an overview of the lessons in Making Spelling Sense and offers advanced instructional material designed to teach to the student to combine spelling patterns to spell more difficult words.  Students learn more about prefixes and suffixes including their meanings and countries of origin.  As with the first volume, Making Spelling Sense II reinforces the concept that the English language has a definite structure and anyone who learns the structure can learn to spell.

Each volume of Making Spelling Sense provides a step-by-step method that does what the titles suggest: makes sense of spelling. Each volume is packed full of story explanations, spelling lists, practice test sheets and much more. They provide clearly written procedures for introducing each spelling lesson, definitions of each teaching principle, and instructions for administering spelling tests. Using her years of experience as a highly credentialed educator, Bonnie Terry has designed a comprehensive spelling program with proven results that is adaptable for use in public, private and homeschool settings.  L.F.

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