Spelling You See Review: The Best Unorthodox Spelling Program?

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In recent times, Spelling You See has become quite a popular option for developing spelling skills, especially for the young ones. The unorthodox approach of teaching spelling has been the strongest feature of this learning platform.

While most other spelling training platforms focus heavily on the spelling exercises and tests, Spelling You See completely ditches them. Even you’ll not find any kind of word lists on their curriculum. Rather, they prioritize on the natural language development approach.

Obviously, we’re all very curious about this unique way of teaching spelling to the kids.

So, today, we’ll conduct a complete Spelling You See review as we would share our experience of going through their curriculum. Hopefully, this detailed review would help you make a concrete decision regarding whether you should take their service or not.

Finally, we’ll conduct a head-to-head comprehensive analysis between Spelling You See and SpellQuiz. The comparison should give a clearer idea about the distinctions between these two spelling platforms.


Core Educational Philosophy of Spelling You See

Spelling You See uses its proprietary teaching method that is based on the five developmental stages of spelling. They believe that all students essentially follow a sequence of stages when they’re learning to spell. Also, one can only become a good speller by following this hard and fast sequence of learning.

Spelling You See has divided the sequence into five stages —

  1. Preliterate
  2. Phonetic
  3. Skill Development
  4. Word Extension
  5. Derivational Constancy

The method also suggests that the learning pace would from student t student. Also, skipping or speeding up any of the stages would disrupt the quality of learning.  

This whole concept is developed by Dr. Karen Holinga, the creator of Spelling You See. Dr. Holinga has a vast 30 years of experience as an elementary school teacher and a college professor.

Now, the question is — how can we implement these five stages of spelling? What spelling activities should we use?

Spelling You See has divided the overall journey into 7 levels —

  • Listen and Write
  • Jack and Jill
  • Wild tales
  • Americana
  • American Spirit
  • Ancient Achievements
  • Modern Milestones

As you can guess, Spelling You See uses these seven levels as the pillars of the curriculum. Also, the seven levels correspond to the five developmental stages that we’ve mentioned before.

So, Spelling You See doesn’t follow the typical grade-based spelling curriculum. Whether this approach of spelling would help a regular school-goer or not — that is still up for debate. However, we think that this strategy might do wonders for the homeschooled kids.

Let’s take a look at the breakdown of the seven levels of spelling training.


Spelling You See Review: Seven Levels of Spelling

The seven levels indicate the proprietary curriculum sequence of Spelling You See. If a child is only starting her spelling lessons and training, she should start from the beginning.

Also, she shouldn’t skip ahead any level. Otherwise, it would hamper the five stages of learning spelling.

But you might ask, how could I be sure of my student’s appropriate spelling level?

You could follow the Readiness Guidelines by Spelling You See. These guidelines should help you determine the current spelling level of your student.

Also, Spelling You See provides all the tools you need to conduct the spelling lessons corresponding to the spelling levels.

For example, you’ll get an instructor’s handbook and a student pack. The Universal Set includes the detailed guideline for conducting all lessons (36 in the Listen and Write level), additional information, and resources.

But what would kids learn in the spelling levels?

Let’s dive into that.


Listen and Write

As you know, the first two stages of spelling are — Preliterate and Phonetic, according to Spelling You See. The ultimate goal of Listen and Write level is to help a student reach the Phonetic stage from the Preliterate stage.  

To do so, this level focuses heavily on building the foundation so that the child can gain confidence and become competent spellers.

What will your child learn in this stage?

  • Lowercase letter formation
  • Knowledge about consonants and vowels
  • Introduction to smaller three-letter words
  • Eventually teaching four- or even five-letter words

Kids will also get daily worksheets so that they learn in an organized fashion. Plus, the package also includes stickers. You should award the stickers so that they feel motivated to continue their spelling training.


Are you looking for creative spelling ideas? Here’s guide with a large collection of unique spelling ideas. 


Jack and Jill

Aren’t we all familiar with the rhyme — Jack and Jill, went up the hill …? As you can guess, this level heavily focuses on nursery rhymes and wordplays.

The ultimate goal is to offer exposure to more words, as well as, help them master those words.

Spelling You See claims that this learning level would help a student with the transition from the Phonetic stage to the Skill Development stage.

What will your child learn in this stage?

  • Nursery rhymes
  • Using rhymes to get introduced to new words in an engaging way
  • The ability to distinguish different yet similar sounds

Spelling You See provides all the rhymes for practice in this level. These nursery rhymes are carefully curated to bring out maximum results.

Kids will also participate in dictations in this stage. The level should help a child with letter patterns too.


Wild Tales

Just like the previous level, Wild Tales also focus on skill development. However, instead of using nursery rhymes, this level uses stories, mostly nonfiction texts about different animals.

The ultimate goal of this stage is to foster curiosity about animals. While the kids learn about different animals, they’re basically practicing spelling passively.

What will your child learn in this stage?

  • Learn about different animals by reading nonfiction texts.
  • Improve their reading skill with the help of a guided reading approach.
  • Get familiarized with common letter chunks (-ght, -tion, etc.).
  • Continue learning through dictation.

Want to find clever ideas on learning spelling for kindergarten students? Check out this in-depth guide now!


Americana continues the previous efforts of the Skill Development stage. As you can guess, Americana focuses on teaching American culture and history. Spelling You See uses many contextual nonfiction texts.

This level is quite similar to Wild Tales but the reading difficulty is slightly higher. Also, the difficulty level continues to increase as students go through this level.

Spelling You See also focuses on vocabulary development in the Americana level.

What will your child learn in this stage?

  • Learn about American history and culture through nonfiction texts.
  • Participate in various spelling activities, including — chunking, copy work, and dictation.
  • Become a better reader as the reading difficulty increases.


American Spirit

American Spirit is basically a continuation of the Americana level. This level too focuses on nonfiction texts about American history. However, rather than focusing on cultural values and customs, American Spirit is all about influential figures, like George Washington and Neil Armstrong.

What will your child learn in this stage?

  • Learn about historical figures in American history through nonfiction texts.
  • Continue participating in various spelling activities, including — chunking, copy work, and dictation.
  • Become a better reader as the reading difficulty increases.


Ancient Achievements

As the students are becoming competent in Skill Development, it’s time to work on their Word Extension skills. So, Ancient Achievements work as the bridge between Skill Development and Word Extension stage, according to the spelling stages of Spelling You See.

Ancient Achievements focus on human history rather than American history. Kids will learn about cave paintings, Marco Polo, Vikings, etc. This will expand their boundary of knowledge and help them to have a broader view of the world.

As you can guess, the lessons are harder than the previous levels.

What will your child learn in this stage?

  • Learn about ancient human history through nonfiction texts.
  • Continue to learn spelling through chunking, copy work, and dictation.
  • Learn about interesting facts of different words
  • Become a better reader as the reading difficulty increases.


Modern Milestones

As the name suggests, Modern Milestones is all about the recent achievements of human history and the creators behind these achievements. More specifically, students will learn about the contributions of great human beings during the last four centuries.

This level is significantly harder than the previous ones. Students will learn about the various spelling patterns, including the base words, prefixes, and suffixes. This is the final level of spelling training from Spelling You See.

What will your child learn in this stage?

  • Learn about modern human history, specifically about musicians, scientists, artists, and other influencers.
  • Understand word patterns, prefixes, and suffixes
  • Continue learning through copy work and dictations


Shortcomings of Spelling You See

Despite having a great spelling training program, Spelling You See is not free from various degrees of shortcomings. You should check them out before making your purchase decision.

After all, Spelling You See is a premium training program.


Only Includes Offline Lessons

Spelling You See is NOT an online learning platform but a publisher that provides offline learning tools and additional accessories. In fact, you’re only getting different books, worksheets, and supporting elements for the lessons.

So, if you’re looking for an online learning platform you should check other resources.


Focused Only Towards the USA-Based Students

Spelling You See has designed its curriculum focused only on US-based students. For example, the Americana and American Spirits are only teaching about the culture and history of the United States of America.

Kids from Canada, the UK, or Australia won’t have the resources to learn about their culture and history.


Doesn’t Focus on Typical Spelling Tests

While Spelling You See proudly says that their method doesn’t include spelling tests and word lists, you can say that it is a major shortcoming of this curriculum.

For example, if a third-grader needs help with the spelling tests and exercises, she can’t get much help from this unorthodox spelling curriculum.

After all, most students still follow the traditional structured learning path and go to a school.


Doesn’t Meet the Needs of an Older Student

Spelling You See might be a great tool for a pre-K or a fifth-grader, but the curriculum is obsolete for a tenth-grader. In fact, even a sixth or seventh grader can’t get much help from these books.

So, Spelling You See is clearly not suitable for all grade levels.


Are you looking for other spelling programs for elementary students, just like Spelling You See? Follow this guide. 


SpellQuiz vs. Spelling You See: Direct Comparison

You can say that SpellQuiz follows a completely opposite approach to spelling training. First of all, while Spelling You See focuses on teaching a child how to spell, SpellQuiz serves as a robust platform for practicing.

In some ways, you can even say that SpellQuiz is a supplementary platform for Spelling You See. A preschooler can learn how to spell from Spelling You See and then can participate in the spelling exercises and tests.

Also, SpellQuiz is the answer to all of the shortcomings of Spelling You See.

Think about it —

  • SpellQuiz is a completely online-oriented spelling and vocabulary building platform.
  • The lessons at SpellQuiz are suitable for students coming from any country.
  • SpellQuiz is one of the most resourceful platforms that can help students with spelling tests in their schools.
  • Students of all ages and even adults can find suitable spelling lessons and training materials at SpellQuiz.

Moreover, SpellQuiz has a Spelling Bee Online game where anyone from anywhere can participate in a virtual spelling bee and compete globally. Plus, this game is completely free making it accessible for everyone.

Then, the Adaptive Learning allows the children to learn spelling at their own pace. You can also take part in quizzes, learn about idioms, read resourceful blogs and guides.

Overall, SpellQuiz offers much more compared to Spelling You See. It’s true that the books from Spelling You See are quite resourceful for young children. But that’s all you’re going to get from Spelling You See — the platform doesn’t offer anything else!

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