Q: Where can I buy your products?
A: Our products are sold exclusively through Amazon Kindle. Please click the "products" tab for a listing of our products and links to purchase them.
Q: I don't have a Kindle. Can I still use your products?
A: Of course! We don't have a Kindle either. Amazon Kindle is a free "app" available for use on almost all major operating systems - you can use it on your Windows PC or a Mac as a desktop application or in any web browser. You can also install the app on most Android smartphones/tablets and the iPhone and iPad. For more information, please visit this page on Amazon's website - the installation process is very straightforward. And if, like me, you're not very tech-savvy, I guarantee you that your kids can show you how to do it!
Q: Is your curriculum available as a physical book?
A: At the current time, we do not offer our curriculum in physical format. This decision was made for several reasons. First, children today are more comfortable with electronic media, and due to this, typically study much more effectively when using electronic devices. Most schools are moving towards using tablets and computers in the classroom rather than pen and paper. Second, the printing and shipping of physical books incurs significant cost that would force us to raise our pricing - since we want to keep our products as affordable as possible, we are using electronic distribution to keep our prices low. Finally, distributing our products as e-books rather than physical books allows us to provide students and their parents with free updates if and when we release a new version - contrast this to textbook publishers who make students pay for a new version every few years!
Q: Why do you sell individual booklets rather than having everything in one book?
A: In my experience, each speller has a unique mix of strengths and weaknesses. Some spellers may be very familiar with certain languages and not need further instruction, while others may not be so familiar. By offering products specific to individual languages, spellers can pick and choose which ones they need rather than paying more for materials that they may not need. Additionally, beginning spellers can purchase only a few booklets and become familiar with those before attacking other materials.
Q: Which spelling bees should my child compete in?
A: All spelling bees that your child is eligible for! The more practice, the better. Obviously, your child should compete in their local school spelling bee that is part of Scripps. There are also several national spelling bees for children of specific ethnic origin, such as the South Asian Spelling Bee and the North South Foundation National Spelling Bee.
Q: At what age should I start preparing my child for the spelling bee?
A: Spelling is a process, and should start at an early age, whether the child is ready for competition or not. It is much easier on everyone concerned, especially the child, to work up to the actual competition - spelling bees are not something you can "cram" for!
Q: How do I prepare my child for a spelling bee?
A: First and foremost, to do well at the beginning stage, the child must know the basic spelling rules and be comfortable with conventional English spellings. Memorizing words can only take one so far; knowing phonetic patterns is the key to learning more words in less time. Let your child compete in the school spelling bee as early as possible, and study the spelling list supplied by the school.
Q: How do I use your products?
A: Our products are designed to save you and your speller significant time. We offer wordlists that significantly reduce the need to leaf through the dictionary in search of obscure words. To help spellers tackle these lists more efficiently, we will also offer booklets covering phonetic patterns and root words, minimizing the number of words that need to be memorized. Each phonetic booklet will have a pronunciation guide to familiarize the speller with the symbols used to represent various sounds. This should be studied first. When the speller is comfortable with the phonetic patterns, he or she should practice with the extensive wordlists that are provided.
Q: Some of the words on your wordlists seem way easier/harder than the others! Why is that?
A: As you know, spelling bees are about luck of the draw - every speller has a different knowledge base; what is easy to one may be hard to another! We unfortunately cannot build a customized wordlist for every speller in the country, so we just used our judgment. :)
Q: Do your wordlists contain definitions and etymologies?
A: Unfortunately, due to the size of our wordlist, providing definitions and etymological information would violate Merriam-Webster's copyrights. However, Merriam-Webster sells a CD-ROM version of the dictionary along with the hard copy that makes it very easy to look up words. You can purchase it on Amazon here. It is what I used when Samir was preparing for the spelling bee. We found this to be an invaluable resource.
Q: Are your products categorized by difficulty level?
A: The wordlists are. The higher the number, the harder the list. The phonetics books are self-contained and can be used by spellers of all levels; beginning spellers should focus on the most common patterns only and advanced spellers should learn the exceptions. Other booklets' difficulty levels will be clear by their description.
Q: Why are your products so inexpensive compared to other study materials?
A: We want everyone to be able to prepare for spelling bees, so we do what we can to keep our prices affordable! We try to keep our overhead expenses down and do everything ourselves.