I’ve never been totally happy with any spelling curriculum we’ve tried. We’ve done Calvert, Sequential Spelling, Spelling Power, Spelling Workout, making up my own thing, Spelling City, and a few others. This year we decided to try Spelling You See and, with 6 weeks done, I am very happy with it.
Spelling You See isn’t like a typical spelling program. There are no word lists to memorize (and promptly forget). Instead, it combines copywork and dictation with looking for groups of letters that often appear together in words. These groups are marked with various colors (for example, vowel chunks – like ee, ow, and ui – get marked in yellow and consonant chunks – like ll, th, and ch – get marked in blue).
To determine which level to place the boys, I gave them the placement assessments provided on the Spelling You See website. Adrian placed into level B. Fritz placed into level E. Cameron placed into level D. They currently go through level G. It is nice that they don’t have grade level designations since Cameron placed at what would surely be a much lower number than his grade level. Near the end of last school year we used the provided sample week at the levels they placed into. That week definitely made me think this was the spelling curriculum for us and that the levels they placed into were the right ones.
The Student Packs for levels B and above include two workbooks (first 18 lessons and second 18 lessons) and a pack of erasable colored pencils. The pencils are very specific colors that will be needed throughout the year. Level B also comes with a laminated printed letter forming guide page.
There are 5 two-page spreads for each week. Weeks we do school four days instead of five, we just skip the last page (E) those weeks. The first half of level B is different from the higher levels, so first I’ll explain how halfway through B and later works and then I’ll explain how the first half of B works.
Each day the kids start out hunting for and marking those letter chunks in their specified color. Whenever a new color is added, they only look for that type of chunk for a couple weeks. Then they add that color to all the other colors they have already learned. By the end of the books their passages are very colorful! The passage they mark is the same every day for a week.
Once they think they have found all of the chunks they are looking for that day, they give it to me and I mark it to show which ones they missed. It’s not a big deal if they miss a few. They look it over after I mark it and see where they could improve. For example, in week 5 Fritz was having a lot of trouble missing th’s. We focused very hard on that chunk. In week 6, he did much better finding those. Missed chunks is just another opportunity to learn to find where those chunks will appear in words.
By the end of the week they are much more accurate in finding and marking the chunks. I find that the ones they repeatedly miss are the ones that don’t come up very often, such as gh.
Once the chunk hunting and marking is finished, they do either copywork or dictation. Copywork is assigned on pages A-C and dictation is assigned on pages D and E. The copywork/dictation comes from the passage they are marking that week. The whole lesson only takes 15 or 20 minutes max.
Now, the first half of B is quite different. Each day there is a nursery rhyme and something to do related to that rhyme. Sometimes we find rhyming words, sometimes capitalized words, sometimes punctuation. Adrian usually wants me to sing the rhyme with several times every day. Then there is a line or two of copywork. Writing is still very difficult for Adrian and he does copywork in Writing With Ease so I help him with the spelling copywork as needed.
For the first 6 lessons, the second page of the daily two-page spread has several letters to copy and then space to write 6 dictated words. Whether or not the words are spelling correctly the first time is not the point. At this point he’s just working on figuring out how to “take apart” a word into sounds to write the words properly. Starting with lesson 7, there are no letters to copy and the number of dictated words doubles. The teacher’s manual provides the words to dictate.
The instructor’s handbooks are necessary and very useful. I use them daily. They all start with background information that is interesting to read. They start with the philosophy, the five developmental stage of spelling, and the curriculum sequence and placement guidelines. Next is getting started with the specific level purchased. Then is lesson-by-lesson instructions. In higher levels several of the lessons have general instructions together plus a weekly activity guide and detailed information about chunking. Then they move on to frequently asked questions followed by a resource section. The resource section includes the passages used in each lesson (lists of words for the kid to write divided by lesson and by types of words for the first half of level B) and a full-color answer key (this is invaluable for checking their accuracy in chunking). At the back is a glossary, bibliography, and, for the higher levels, index.
The real test for any spelling curriculum is whether the kid’s spelling improves or not in their regular writing. Because of Cameron’s learning disability, his spelling may never improve a whole lot (though he is very good at hunting for the letter groups which really surprised me and he is properly remembering those chunks in his regular writing so improvement is happening!). I have noticed that Fritz and Adrian both are spelling better in non-spelling assignment work after just these last 6 weeks. Adrian is getting good at taking 3-4 letter words apart and figuring out what letter each sound is. Considering Fritz’s spelling has not improved with any other program, I’m going to considerate Spelling You See a huge win.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
(Note: I was no compensated in any way for this review. I bought the books myself.)