Spelling You See, American Spirit ~ A Review

  Spelling You See Review

I am so pleased, thrilled and honored to be able to share a new product from Demme Learning : Spelling You See! Yes, this is the same company with  Mr. Demme, that brought you Math-U-See.  Even though it is geared for Elementary Levels, I asked to review American Spirit (Level E) with my youngest. I couldn’t wait to see the book and try it out!

Spelling You See Review

Spelling You See Review








Each Level of Spelling You See contains two parts:  The Instructor’s Handbook and the Student Workbooks.

The Instructor’s Handbook gives the instruction for getting started and lays out the philosophy behind Spelling You See using the five stages of spelling. Guided information is given for each lesson of the Student Workbooks. Some instructions are for combined lessons, like 1-3 or 5-7. The back of the book gives training on  guided reading, chunking, copywork, and dictation. You’ll want to skip to the back of the book to read through this, even on the first lesson.  

The Instructor’s Handbook has the ‘answers’ to help you make sure you’re seeing all of the chunks.


The Student Pack includes two student workbooks and a pack of erasable colored pencils. There are 36 Lessons in 5 parts. (A-E). Each Part has 2 facing pages. On the first day, you read the passage to the child, then read the passage together. Then the child uses a colored pencil to find the ‘chunks’. The facing page has a part of the passage with lines for copywork. A timer is set for 10 minutes during this part. The child completes the copy work, then “chunks” that passage as well.


We choose American Spirit. I was excited to incorporate our History, American History with spelling. This level continues with the core activities Chunking and Copywork. Chunking gives the child an eye for the irregular letter patterns. Copywork requires the child to pay attention to the details as they print it from copy and dictation. The text is interesting and engaging.

How We Used It:

The day we received the Instructor’s Handbook and Student Workbooks I jumped in and read the Handbook and many pages of the Student Workbook. The process seemed extremely simple.

P1010404I read a passage, one paragraph, covering a nugget of American History. Then Jon and I read it together. This seemed a bit silly – since Jon is in the 7th grade. However, we followed the Instructor’s Directions. By the way, on each part of each lesson, there is a small box with the instructions for the day – so you need not carry around the Instructor’s Handbook for each lesson.

I have heard that great readers become great spellers. However, I’ve known quite a few great readers that are horrible spellers. I think this is due to fast reading and skimming. Reading the section with the student helps them to SEE the words. Intentional. This program should not be based on reading ability – but rather spelling levels.

Untitled-1So after we read the passage together we’d look for the Vowel Chunks. Using a yellow highlighter or pencil, or in Jon’s case a yellow sharpie, He’d underline, circle or mark through the chunks. aa, ae, ai, oo, au, aw, ay, etc.

Then he moves to the next page to copywork a section of the text. He rarely needed more than a couple of minutes for this part. You are encouraged to stop this activity after 10 minutes. He’d then go back and chunk this portion as well.

The first day the chunking was more difficult that I had thought it would be. To have an active boy sit and play a puzzle search game with the words was a challenge. I like that it says to help your student find the chunks. I kept telling him it wasn’t a race or a test or a reflection of being a good or bad speller. Just a quick activity for the day. As the days and lessons went on, it became very simple to find the chunks.

There are several sets of chunks, every couple of weeks the letter combinations pile up and you start marking in blue, pink, etc. You can download a sample lesson to see how it looks.

Copywork. Days 1-3 work through the passage piece by piece. On day 4 you give the dictation to the child for the entire text. Instructions are to give one word at a time, giving helps as desired. By day 4 Jon pretty much had the text memorized, and I said it sentence by sentence with very few helps. On day 5 you dictate the entire selection word by word without helps. Again, on Day 5 Jon pretty much wrote the whole thing from memory, with a few helps on a sentence or two with the dictation, no helps with spelling or punctuation. He would leave out a punctuation or two but did great with the spelling.


Never Behind. Each lesson has a number, then each day has a letter, so Monday –Friday is A-E. Many of the skills are repeated each day and reinforced each week. If you are having a busy homeschool week and are  unable to do all five parts, on Monday – start with the next Lesson. Keep Moving Forward. There was a couple of times that we did 3-4 days of a lesson. Jon was pretty stoked to be able to move on the next week.

One cool thing is that there are no lists, words to memorize, or facts to memorize. Just follow the prompts and begin.

I am excited to share the results.  We are on lesson 9 next week. Several words that were commonly misspelled are now flowing easily. The handwriting is flowing beautifully. We do a bit of writing, but have not had a habit of every day pencil to paper. Jon has said how much he likes his handwriting now. There was a time in second lesson where Magic Happened. Have you done the picture puzzles where you stare at them and then an image pops out? We were reading along on the first read through, and all of a sudden the text became 3D. The “Chunks” floated off the page standing out in each word. It was so crazy. This has continued through the lessons. It really is Spelling that You See.

I should mention, since this product is provided by Demme Learning, that it is a not a video program. The workbooks stand alone and are simple to use. We’ve had them on car trips, at the beach, at a park, at a friend’s house, in the VA hospital, at a Big Wave Surf Competition, and even at our kitchen table.

Would I recommend this product? Simple answer is Yes. I think that this is an amazing combination of Phonograms, Letter Combinations, Site Reading, Copywork, and Dictation. My youngest especially was the most difficult to try to drag through word lists. Unrelated words. Often unrelated to his speech patterns or writing desires. Yes, they may learn vocabulary – but are we teaching vocabulary or spelling? With Spelling You See I feel like we are teaching both. Many interesting words, used in the context of a historical story, without the need for memory based learning. As we experienced, it became a visual memory, with the 5 days of reading and writing the passage. I urge you not to judge the sample text pages as a match for your child based on their current reading ability. The text is below Jon’s reading ability – but it helped him in leaps and bounds to pull together his spelling and quick dictation. 

Spelling You See is intended for elementary aged students. They can be used for older children needing remedial work. Each level is ungraded but placement information is available along with Before You Buy FAQ’s along with a Bibliography of resources used in the development of the product.

Keep up with Spelling You See on Facebook and Twitter:

  • https://www.facebook.com/SpellingYouSee
  • https://twitter.com/spellingyousee

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  • About +Angie Wright

    The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
    This entry was posted in Language, Reviews, Schoolhouse Crew, Spelling, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

    5 Responses to Spelling You See, American Spirit ~ A Review

    1. Pingback: Spelling You See {Schoolhouse Crew Review} – Only Passionate Curiosity

    2. Paula says:

      Do you think this could be done without the teacher’s guide?

      • Technically, yes. It is a pretty straight forward program – the text is written to the student, instructions on each page that are simple to understand. The grading of it, is easier with the teacher’s manual. The introduction as to how and why is there, too.

    3. Tracie says:

      Great review! I have been spending today trying to figure out which level to start my nine year old at. I’ve determined he needs Jack and Jill, but was thinking it seems too easy. So I’m glad to hear your thoughts on not necessarily going by their reading level.

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