Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spelling You See Review

Have you ever s-p-e-l-l-e-d w-o-r-d-s because you had little ears listening and you didn't want them to understand what you were saying? My husband and I can get away with that less and less since our kids are getting older and especially now that we've been using  Spelling You See: Listen and Write (Level A). More and more, I find them spelling out words and sounding out the letters they see and hear. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they're doing so well, but how can we talk about i-c-e c-r-e-a-m and still keep it a secret!

Spelling You See (part of the Math-U-See family) claims to be "a natural, easy way to teach and learn spelling" and I couldn't agree more. The program focuses on short daily activities that combine listening, speaking, reading, and copying. By repeatedly reading and writing, the student naturally imprints the proper spellings of words in their minds. The program currently offers 5 levels of learning, starting with the students just beginning to learn letter names and sounds. That's the level we've been using. 
I've had both Alyssa (6) and Zac (4) working through this book. Even though Alyssa has been reading for quite a while now, I felt that she could benefit from the early spelling lessons and the handwriting review. Zac had learned his letter sounds and could read simple CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, but not consistently. Also, he had little formal experience with proper letter formations.

I printed off the lessons (we received a PDF version, though it is not available to purchase) and handed them each lesson 1. They excitedly flew through the page and asked for number 2. The directions recommend 10-minute lessons, but my kids never want to stop after just 10 minutes. 

The 36 lessons are divided into 5 parts, A through E. The top of each page is letter formation practice. The bottom portion is filled with letter boxes. These boxes help the brain learn sound-to-letter correspondence. The lessons start three-letter words to copy and gradually increase to 5-letter words to spell.

Alyssa and Zac start by writing the letters and making their sounds. They try to have a race to see who can get done first, but I remind them that writing properly is more important winning. That works. Sometimes, ha. Then I pick out which one of each letter is written the best and draw a smiley face above it. The so look forward to seeing which letter gets the smile! After that, we work on the letter boxes together. 

I am amazed at how well this program is working for us! The format seems so simple, there is nothing exciting, the pages are plain, yet I have seen vast improvements in my little ones and their abilities. Alyssa, for sure, is doing better with both handwriting and spelling, but Zac is the one who has benefited the most. In the beginning, he struggled, understandably, with some letter formations, but usually by the second or third day with the letter, he was writing it beautifully. Another thing is that before, he would write in capital letters sporadically, but is now writing in lower case. Also, I can say a word, and he spells it. But the biggest, most exciting part? He is reading now! And not just slowly sounding out words, but reading simple books. I am beyond thrilled, as is he. 

I do have one negative though. I do not like the font that is used. For instance, certain letters, like l and t are have a curved end instead of a straight line. The curve is harder to write. Alyssa, especially, would write the letters properly before with just a straight line for the l and so on. When they started this program though, I found their writing getting worse. As you can see in the picture above, her ls were getting sloppy. Instead of having them practice those letters to match the ones on the paper, I had them write like they had done before, with the straight lines. Not a big deal, but one to note.   

Other than the font issue, I have nothing but good to say about the Listen and Write program. The kids and I all enjoy it and are seeing improvements. We will definitely continue with this program. I am interested in researching the higher levels for Jake (8) as he has struggled with his spelling. If this is working so well for the other two, I expect it to work well for him, as well.

The instructor's handbook costs $14 and the student pack (workbook, sticker pack, and the Guide to Handwriting) costs $20.

You can find Spelling You See on Facebook and Twitter.

If you'd like to read more reviews of Level A or would like to see some of the other levels, please check the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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