Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: Spelling You See (Wild Tales Level C)

Spelling You See by Demme Learning is a sister curriculum to Math-U-See. While I have never used Math-U-See, I have heard nothing but rave reviews from friends about it! So, when the opportunity arose through the TOS Crew for me to give my honest review of Wild Tales Level C of Spelling You See in exchange for an advanced PDF copy of the product, I went for it.

Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical about Spelling You See. Over the years, I have used a couple of homeschool spelling curricula which I stand firm with because the methods and approach with phonemes are so solid. Scientist and Artsy Girl especially excel so well with them. 

Why wouldn't all my other children?

Well, Explorer would challenge that question!

How Spelling You See Works

Children begin at a level lower than their current skill level. This is determined by utilizing Spelling You See's placement documents. There are five levels which are based on research of the five developmental stages of spelling. The focus is on their skill level vs. keeping them pigeonholed by grades (this is something I value greatly!).

Spelling You See products are not age specific; though they are meant for elementary ages, or for remedial work for older students.

There is an Instructor's Handbook and also two student workbooks available for each level of Spelling You See. (except for Level A which has one workbook). A Guide to Handwriting is included with Levels A and B. While the student workbook has instructions laid out for the parent and child, the instructor's hand book is helpful.

The first seven weeks cover Nursery Rhymes (this carries over from the Jack and Jill theme prior to this level). Lessons for weeks 1 and 2 go over *vowel chunks*; Week 3 and 4 cover *consonant chunks*; and week 5 is about *bossy r chunks*; week 6 goes through *tricky y guy*; and the 7th week focuses on silent letters. Each section is color coded and students highlight the chunks accordingly to aid with visual memory.

Once we are past the first seven weeks of nursery rhymes, we move onto non-fiction short stories about animals which contain more words and more chunk combinations to look for.  I'm looking ahead at this point because we aren't *there* yet (almost though) and week 8 focuses solely on vowel chunks. 

Weeks 9 through 12 have the kids do vowel chunks for the first two days and then consonant chunks for two more days. The last day in each of these weeks will either consist of working on silent letters, bossy r chunks, or tricky y guy. Also included in the last lesson of each week is a page for the kids to write a story from the week's dictation.

By week 13, the students are challenged with varying combinations of chunks and/or silent e, tricky y guy to be on the lookout for. This continues up until week 17.

The 18th week, in the first work book, is the last week and endings are introduced (-ed, -es, -ful, -ing, -ly).

With each dictation throughout the program, the parent counts the total amount of correctly spelled words and jots the  number down at the bottom of the page. The goal is to emphasize how many correctly spelled words your child receives. 

Our Experience With Spelling You See

Explorer was excited to begin spelling with a different approach. He is working on the Skill Development stage in Wild Tales. During the first seven weeks, we say the rhyme together and clap in rhythm. I liked this part because he was familiar with hearing syllables when we said words in another curriculum we have used. It suits his learning style as he is primarily an auditory learner.

Each week is divided into five lessons. I'd read the rhyme to Explorer. Then, as already mentioned, we'd say it and clap through it. Afterward, it was Explorer's turn to read it to me. Once we were finished with this portion, he'd go through the rhyme to highlight the *vowel chunks*. 

That is until the fourth lesson of the week.

The fourth lesson of each week is *no rule day*. I know. That makes me cringe, too! It's so different from how I am used to teaching Spelling. However, Explorer enjoys having the option to draw an illustration that goes with the rhyme or to enjoy free writing. He chooses to draw.

In the fifth lesson of each week, I dictated to Explorer and he did his best to recall the correct spelling of words. The first week we did this, I was greatly encouraged for him because he did so well on his spelling words! 

As we continued onward with weeks two and three, he didn't do as well as he did with week one. I'm not sure what happened. He knows the nursery rhymes by heart already, and it was easy for him to take his eyes off of the words as we clapped through them. I'd draw his focus back to the words but it was difficult to tell if he was tracking and actually reading the words as we said them together. I'm uncertain how his being comfortable with the familiarity of the rhymes affected his results. He also didn't refer to the vowel chart much as he did the *chunking* because he caught on right away to the chunks. 

Still, the emphasis is placed on the number of words he did spell correctly. :-) I never gave him the total count of words so that he wouldn't be discouraged. 

When we get to the fourth week, we begin to focus on consonant chunks. This is where it seems to have gotten a bit trickier for Explorer. Again, I'm not sure how much his results from the dictation are because of how familiar he already is with the rhymes...

But he did have to slow down when it came to the consonant chunks and needed to refer to the consonant chunk chart quite often. I thought for sure that this would help him visually retain the chunks and better aid him when it came time to the dictation portion. However...

... he was missing portions of the consonant chunks. At one point he had the second 'd' in the word 'paddy' but for some reason went in and erased it. This is not a consonant chunk, but he did copy it in the copy work portions. I don't know why he went in and changed it.

The curriculum has us focus on the consonant chunks for one week and then we moved onto focusing on *bossy r chunks*. This left me unsettled because I saw that he was struggling with the consonant chunks. 

As time progresses, the idea is that the kids will improve as they listen to the parent read, read the story slowly together and follow along with their finger, repeat the chunks, and complete copy work. 

Explorer is excited to pull out the Spelling workbook and do the work, so I will need to give it more time, I think, to see if this works for him. He is at the proper individual reading level but is more auditory than visual in his learning. Perhaps with some tweaking, this will work for him (see the *Something I Would Like to See* comments below for how I plan to do this).

What I Like About Spelling You See:

  • I'm drawn to color coded things. {I'm primarily a visual learner and an artist.} It makes it organized. Therefor, I can see how it would work really well for visual learners.
  • The *chunking* is a good idea! It makes students purposefully focus on those specifics.
  • I like that copy work and dictation are involved. It's all laid out in one week for me.
  • Grades are not the emphasis and that can make a world of difference for a child!  
  • The fact that the daily activities are short is a bonus!

Something I Would Like To See:

  • I think that Spelling You See is trying to reach auditory learners, too, by having them read out loud {and say the words in rhyme in the first 7 weeks}. However, I think it may greatly help auditory learners if Spelling You See suggests to have auditory students sound out the vowel chunks, consonant chunks, bossy r chunks, and the tricky y guy. I'm aware that Phonetics are addressed in another level, however, I think I need to do this with Explorer because the visual exercise of highlighting alone isn't working for him when it comes to the dictation. **I think that's what is missing for him.
  •  A clear explanation of how chunking and copy work are expected to make great spellers. I really struggle with rules not being explained to them. It would make me feel more secure with the product and the outcome from using it.
  • A font for dictation that is san serif. Explorer was a little confused about how to make his letters when seeing the little serifs on the letter 't' and 'l' (for example). It's *Spelling You See*, so he initially thought he needed to make his letters look the way he saw them.

What Does Wild Tales Include?

  • Includes 36 lessons, divided into two books for ease of use. Each of the lessons is divided into five parts, A through E. One daily lesson consists of two or four facing pages.
  • Includes erasable colored pencils with each Student Pack
  • Has complete instructional information in the Instructor’s Handbook, as well as access to helpful videos from Dr. Karen Holinga.

How Much Spelling You See Costs:

Spelling You See: Listen and Write (Level A)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $20

Spelling You See: Jack and Jill (Level B)
Instructor’s Handbook $16
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: Wild Tales (Level C)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: American (Level D)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

You can purchase Spelling You See materials at their store

Connect With Spelling You See:



  1. I loved reading your review! We reviewed Level C as well. I too would like to understand more of how chunking and copywork will create good spellers. There were so many thoughts I had about this program it was hard to include them all! Hugs, Leah

    1. Thank you, Leah! I appreciate you stopping by and commenting. Blessings!