Spelling You See [Review]

From Demme Learning, the publishers of Math-U-See, comes Spelling You See Level F Ancient Achievements.

Spelling You See Review


We received the Spelling You See Level F Ancient Achievements Student Workbooks 1 & 2, the Instructor's Handbook, and a set of colored pencils. The books contain 36 lessons divided into five segments each.

The basic premise of the program is to use more developmentally appropriate methods to teach spelling, as well as remove some of the stress from building spelling skills. Students read a short paragraph, copy it, and then color-code vowel and consonant blends. (this is referred to as 'chunking'). There are no drills, no long lists of vocabulary words, no memorization, no spelling tests. 

This process is repeated each day, with a lesson that Spotlights certain words in the paragraph, such as words that rhyme or have similar spellings or root language, and each lesson ends with an assessment of sorts involving dictation.

This program involves significant (but not burdensome) parent-teacher interaction. You need to listen to your child read, help with the pronunciation and meaning of unfamiliar words, discuss the Spotlighted words, and make sure they 'chunk' the vowel and consonant sounds for that lesson. On Day 4 you will dictate the paragraph, going slowly so that your child is relaxed and can think it through, and you can even give them some help with problem words. Day 5 is dictation without any parental assistance.

The Day 4 and 5 dictation exercises are not tests. They are part of program's goal to build spelling skills and confidence without the pressure of tests.

Review and Recommendations:

I chose Level F Ancient Achievements for our review, because Kenny is a fairly proficient reader, but struggles with spelling. He hurries through his writing to 'get it done' and writes the first spelling that pops into his head, especially with words that defy all phonics rules. You don't even want to know what it looks like when he writes the grocery list. 

 Spelling You See Level F Ancient Achievements is a program that you can start easily right out of the box. The Instructor's Handbook lays out the program with simple, short explanation of how it works and what the parent and student need to do for each lesson. 

The huge plus for me is the simplicity. Each day Kenny would read the assigned paragraph out loud to me, and then copy it. The chosen portions are interesting historical snippets about people, places, and events from world history. It just so happens that we are studying Ancient World History, so the paragraphs about Ancient Egypt and China blended in nicely with our other studies. 

After copying the lesson, Kenny would use the colored pencils and Chunking Guide to color-code vowel and consonant blends, or any spelling oddities that caught his eye. Some of these blends are categorized with catchy names like "Bossy r Chunks" and "Tricky y Guys".

We have a four day school week, so we combine Day 4 & 5 by doing one dictation first thing in the morning, then right before lunch we did another. Kids are encouraged when they see immediate improvement in their spelling and writing skills., and Kenny is no exception. He also appreciated being done with Spelling in less than 20 minutes a day.

Another benefit was that Kenny was learning words used in context. We've used spelling and vocabulary lists before, with the kids finding definitions and creating sentences, or keeping a little spelling journal with words from their reading that they didn't know.  However, the Spelling You See method of repeated copying and chunking seems very effective at focusing Kenny's attention on how certain vowel and consonant blends sound very different in different words. In a relaxed way, Kenny is becoming a more confident speller with what seems like very little effort. 

I prefer self-directed learning, but  Spelling You See Level F Ancient Achievements  didn't require much time on my part, other than being handy to listen to him read, review the chunking with him, and then read the dictation on Fridays. He likes doing his schoolwork at the kitchen counter (could this be because this puts him close to the snack drawer?) so we were able to quickly and easily incorporate Spelling You See into our homeschool day.

We plan to stick with it even after the review period because it has become a natural part of our homeschooling, and it's been successful at improving Kenny's spelling and has encouraged him to pay attention to vowel and consonant patterns. The new word at our house is 'chunking' - it's fun to say!

Personal Thoughts:

The Student Workbooks and Instructor's Handbook are nice size glossy paperbacks. The paper and printing quality is very good and the binding is nice and sturdy. As Kenny works toward the middle of the workbook he has to bend the spine back some to lay it flat, and we used a binder clip to keep the book open for him. 

I think this is a spelling program that is what it claims. The method seems natural, low stress, no pressure from tests, memorization, or drilling. Kenny was happy to be only investing about 15 minutes a day and yet still see gradual but visible improvement. I liked that there weren't a bunch of moving parts, because then I have to find a place to corral it, which sometimes makes me cranky. Kenny grabs his pencils and workbook, I get the Instructor's Handbook out to follow along, and we're off. 

Language Arts is one subject that we will use curriculum for because language skills are essentials for every other area of study. Because Spelling You See was easy to use and took very little time, it works well with our delight-directed approach.

If you are looking for a simple, low stress, and effective way to teach Spelling, you should go to the Spelling You See website and give it a look-see.

You can also connect with Spelling You See at:

Spelling You See Review