Friday, March 28, 2014

Spelling You See {A Review}


Spelling You See is a brand new, very exciting program from Demme Learning, the makers of Math-U-See.  Their wonderful reputation in the homeschooling community precedes them, so we were thrilled to be chosen to review the Spelling You See: Americana (Level D)! 

spelling programs

     The entire Spelling You See program combines history, poetry, English, writing, grammar, spelling, listening skills, and dictation exercises in a methodical, systematic yet engaging and exciting way.  The daily exercises are very, very manageable for squirmy worms of all ages, allowing them small victories and a real sense of progression and confidence throughout the program. 

How it Works
         Placement is not based on grade but on the student’s level of language development. One of the many things I love about this program is the fact they don’t have you choose a level for your student based on reading level, but rather based on his/her spelling level.  My daughter, 10 years old, is an excellent reader; she is reading at a 7th grade level and doing really well with chapter books, but her spelling is atrocious and it has frustrated me beyond words.  She is somehow just not making the connection between translating what she knows in her brain down to paper and into her writing. 
            Keeping this in mind, I chose the Americana Level for her because of the word-extension stage in which I believed her to be.  This level focuses on syllables within words, as well as prefixes and suffixes.  If you're not sure about which level on which to start your own child(ren), I encourage you to check out the helpful page from the Spelling U See website, by clicking here

There are three core activities within the Americana Level:
Chunking—Your student will use colored pencils (included with purchase) to mark certain letter patterns found within the passage.  This is done for each lesson, and not just for busywork, but in a methodical way to get your student in the habit of seeing the different letter combinations and which ones are making which sounds. Underneath each passage are boxes with the chunks your student is to look for and mark in each passage. 
     Consonant chunks are marked with blue pencils, vowel chunks with yellow pencils, "bossy r" chunks with purple, ending chunks with pink, and so forth.  It is very important to the program for your child to consistently use the colored pencils as prescribed. The visual, relational aspect of the colored chunks, solidifies the spelling patterns for your child. It is a major part of the success of this program, in my opinion.

spelling programs

Copywork—Each day, your student will be writing the given passage after reading through it with you. In the Americana level, non-fiction history lessons are the passages, thus giving the students some sneaky, extra learning (which I loved).  The student will only write for 10 minutes, no more.  If they complete the portion of the passage they are required to write for that day in less than 10 minutes, then they are done. If they don’t complete it in 10 minutes, they stop anyway. 
     On the first three days of the lesson, the chunking and copywork are repeated in this format: reading, chunking, copywork.  

homeschooling spelling

homeschooling spelling

The consumable workbook allows ample space for your student to write: 

spelling programs

Dictation—On the fourth and fifth days of the lessons, still using the same passage, you will dictate the passage to your student.  On the first day of dictation, you will be helping the student with grammar and spelling as needed.  You encourage them to cross through any misspelled words or errors, and then quickly move on.  Again, you will spend no more than 10 minutes on the dictation portion of the lesson. On the last day of dictation, you will dictate the passage to them, and they will copy the passage without help.   By the time they get to this fifth day of chunking and copywork, you will be amazed at how their brains have remembered the spelling patterns and have learned to “decode and encode” what they are seeing within each word.  My daughter’s progress has been very amazing.
     There are 36 lessons, divided into 2 student workbooks, and an Instructor’s Handbook, which lays out the daily lessons, offers helpful tips on how to teach this program, and provides answers for the chunking sections.

       If you encounter a question in the process, as I did, the customer service at Demme Learning is top notch, and will help you in any way they can with very prompt responses. And we all know how important great customer service is!  

Want to see a sample before deciding? 
Check out this sample lesson from Spelling You See: Americana.  

Bottom Line
     This program is very user-friendly for both teacher and student and does not take a lot of lesson preparation, which we all love.  As Abbey began working through the lessons, she immediately felt confidence in seeing her spelling improve from one day to the next.  As she memorized the letter patterns found in the words she already knew, I could see her work faster and faster with her copywork.  After not being able to finish a lesson in 10 minutes the first two days of working, she started having fun trying to beat her own time (while still having good handwriting) each day.  
     My daughter can now do a lesson in well under the 10-minute mark, and the mistakes have become fewer and fewer.  Even the grammar--noticing where commas should go and which words should be capitalized--are all increasing her confidence as a young writer.  I highly recommend this for any struggling speller in your home, whether you homeschool or not!
       I absolutely love it when I can recommend a great program AND it is affordable! Spelling You See: Americana is sold for $44 (as a set).  This includes the Instructor's Handbook, Two Student Workbooks, and a set of colored pencils (used for chunking).  You can also purchase the Instructors Handbook and Student Workbooks separately, helpful for when you have multiple students working in the same level.  The Instructor's Handbook is $14, and the set of two Student Workbooks is $30.  

     The Schoolhouse Review Crew Members have been using different levels of Spelling You See with their students for several weeks, so if there's a different level you want to learn more about, please click the banner below and enjoy visiting the different homeschooling blogs to read about their experiences!


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