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Spelling You See: Jack and Jill {Review}

Spelling You See Review
Does a spelling program with no word lists, no spelling tests, and no memorizing rules appeal to you? If so, you might be interested in Spelling You See.

Spelling You See: Jack and Jill (Level B) uses a nursery rhyme theme to introduce words in a fun and meaningful way. Because nursery rhymes are easy to say and learn, your elementary child can be introduced to new vocabulary and sounds through repetition and rhyme.

The program consists of two main components:

Spelling You See Review

  • Instructor’s Handbook $16 Contains a “Getting Started” guide with an overview of the philosophy, concepts and skills in this level, information on the organization of the lessons, as well information about letter chunking, “no rule day”, dictation, answers to frequently asked questions, and additional passages for dictation.

Spelling You See Review

  • Student Pack $30 Includes Student Workbooks, a Guide to Handwriting, and a pack of erasable colored pencils.

Five levels are currently available. Levels are not graded, but are based on spelling readiness, and placement guidelines are available to determine the level your child is ready for. See samples and frequently asked questions to learn more.

Spelling You See Review
How it works:

Thirty-six lessons are divided into 2 books - Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 1

I reviewed Jack and Jill (Level B) with Eliana, my 1st grader.

Each day, she does two worksheets. On the first worksheet, we read the nursery rhyme, clap in rhythm to each syllable, and follow the directions on the worksheet. I help her find different details within the rhyme. With this, she is learning to follow directions and search for common patterns in words, like punctuation and capitalization. Finally, she copies a portion of the rhyme on the lines provided.

On the second worksheet, she fills in a set of letter boxes, focusing on short vowel sounds. The boxes are designed to help the brain learn sound-to-letter correspondence. (As she writes each letter, I am instructed to encourage her to say the sound, and then create a word from individual sounds). First she copies the words into the boxes, and after lesson 3, she writes the words I dictate to her. I chose 6 new words each day, focusing on a different vowel each week. (I wasn't told specifically which words to use, rather was given a list of words to choose from in the Instructor's Handbook).

Part 2

Part 2 continues the nursery rhyme theme, but now the teacher guides the student to find vowel and consonant patterns in each passage, and students begin more advanced copywork. Once a week, students have a "No Rule Day," where they have a chance to be creative. They can write, dictate or illustrate a response to the weekly nursery rhyme.

Pencil grip technique and correct letter formation is emphasized, and manuscript writing is encouraged  in the program since everything they see is in manuscript (or print).

Getting Ready

I read through the Teacher's Handbook to familiarize myself with the program before starting. The program is open and go after this. (I received an advanced PDF copy of Level B to facilitate this review.)

A Week in the Life of Spelling You See

Each weekly lesson is divided into five parts, labeled A through E.

Lesson 1A

On Day 1, we first read through the rhyme "Jack and Jill," clapping the syllables as we read.

I reminded her that each syllable gets its own clap, and some words have more than one syllable. This is something that we have practiced in her current program, but have not yet used in the context of reading.

Then I have her point to each word as she reads it.

Then, I am guided to help her find the two rhyming words in the poem and underline them.

Next, she writes the first two lines of the rhyme as copywork.

On the second page of the lesson, she traces letters and words, and then practices writing letters and words through copywork.

My first thoughts:

  • I like it.

  • It was easy to do.

  • It is more like a workbook approach, with the instructions on the student page, so it's not scripted.

  • It would be easy to take the lessons anywhere.

  • She enjoyed the quick lesson (less than 10 minutes).

  • Using nursery rhymes means my daughter can "read" words she has not been taught yet.

  • I like that spelling is being taught in the context of reading and writing (copywork and later dictation)

  • I'm thinking I would like this as a writing program!

Lesson 1B

Day 2 is very similar to Day 1, except today we find and underline all the capital Js in the rhyme.

Lesson 1C

Day 3 follows the same pattern, except today we are looking for punctuation. I help her find and circle all the commas and periods.

Lesson 1D

Day 4 again follows the same pattern as Day 1, except today we learn that names start with a capital letter, and I have her find and underline all the names in the rhyme.

In Lesson 1E, Day 5, we again follow the same pattern, except today I have her find and underline what Jack broke.

I asked Elli what she thinks so far:

  • "It's easy."

  • "It's fun."

  • "It's easy and fun!"

You can see that it is simple, repetitive, and "easy and fun."

Lessons 2 A-E follows this same format, but with "The Wheels on the Bus," and both lessons focus on a short vowel sound, details in print, and rhyming.

Then, in Lesson 3 dictation is introduced and used in each lesson thereafter.

We have completed 6 weeks of the program. I really appreciate that you are encouraged to not spend more than 10 minutes per lesson, and are even encouraged to move on to the next week, even if you don't finish all of the previous week. However, towards the end, Elli started to feel like it was a lot of writing. She was always done in less than 10 minutes, but it wasn't as much fun as in the beginning.  I also noticed that she was guessing at the words, and not really "reading" them.  I noticed this in week 6, because two lines of the poem are backwards from how we learned it, and that is how she "read" it.

I feel like we are just getting into the heart of Spelling You See. Here Elli is finding all the words with "ing" and marking them with pink.

What I Think

According to Spelling You See, copywork and dictation help the student develop a visual memory, as the brain is focusing on the way the words look in print. Hence, Spelling You See!

I noticed that the spelling words for copywork and dictation are not related to the rhyme the child is reading and copying each day, however.  So far, each week, we are learning CVC words focused on a single vowel, and none of these words are used in context. I bring this up, because learning words in context is emphasized in the program. I'm assuming that the context comes in when marking vowel combinations (referred to as "chunks"), coming up in the program.

Spelling You See stresses that without something meaningful to connect the words to - without linkage, the brain simply reverts to rote memory, storing the words for a few days and then discarding them. So, the words never make it into long-term memory.

They also say it takes a long time for spelling to become implanted and automatic. Until that happens, I will continue to see spelling errors in her free writing. This is not something I expect in our current program, once a concept has been taught.

Furthermore, I feel that a consistent copying of the same passage multiple times is learning how to spell words by memorization.

Spelling You See stresses that the goal is to create a visual memory for non-phonetic words; however, it is using this method for phonetic words as well.

In fact, Spelling You See, stresses that phonics rules need to be de-emphasized beginning in this developmental stage because they are no longer needed to help the student learn to read. They claim that over-teaching phonics at this stage can actually create unnecessary confusion in spelling. I appreciate that they stress that spelling must be connected to context in order for new information to be linked correctly and permanently to long-term memory, but I am uncomfortable with de-emphasizing phonics at this stage.

The focus of Spelling You See is to master spelling patterns and irregularly spelled words though copywork/dictation alone, and later in the program by "chunking" vowel combinations to improve visual memory.

I learned to read by memorization in the first grade in a California private school. When my family moved to Montana, I was held back and had to repeat the first grade so that I could learn to read by phonics. Because of my experience, I personally want a program with a strong emphasis on phonics, but would love this approach of connecting spelling to context to reinforce a strong phonics based program.

I like that it is "easy." Easy as in not a lot of extra work for the teacher - it's not teacher intensive at all. It would be an ideal program for a natural speller, to reinforce a phonics based spelling program, or as a writing program since it incorporates copywork and dictation. But, I am uncomfortable using Spelling You See as a spelling program alone.


  • Ideal for visual learners and natural spellers

  • Short, easy lessons - never longer than 10 minutes

  • Instills confidence in my child because she is familiar with the passages

  • Puts spelling in context by incorporating copywork and dictation

  • Not a "list of words to learn"

  • Not teacher intensive


  • Relies on visual memory alone

  • Phonics are not emphasized or reviewed, and in fact, are de-emphasized

  • Students are not taught why words are spelled the way they are - spelling rules are not taught

  • Spelling errors are expected until the words become "automatic," but students are not given the tools they need to learn to spell effectively

  • Not mastery based - spelling skills are not taught or reviewed

  • Cost per level and that it is consumable (I would have liked to see the Teacher Handbook be included in the cost of the Student Workbook price, since it is an integral part of the program.)

While Spelling You See as a spelling program is not for us, I did take away an idea to help us in our current program: I like the idea of having her "chunk" vowel combinations, and plan to have her highlight beginning and ending blends in her dictation.

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  1. Fantastic review! I love all the pictures.

  2. Thanks, Jennifer! I see your daughter liked it too! :)

  3. Your review is just wonderful! I love your thoroughness and how you showed your daughter doing the different activities every day. I too was a little worried about the lack of spelling rules. I always fall back on those when in doubt! Thank you, too, for your comment on my blog. Made my day! Hugs, Leah

  4. Oh thank you for this review! I'm contemplating spelling programs next year for 3rd grade and it's hard finding a program that emphasizes the rules in phonics. I did not like Rod and Staff for that reason. I LOVE Math U See so I've been looking into Spelling U See, so thank you for the honest feedback. Any suggestions on what to use that is phonics based? I'm seriously considering All About Spelling.

  5. Tiffany: we have been using All About Spelling this past year and LOVE it! Couldn't say enough about how logical, clear, and straightforward it is. We just love, love, love it! It is an easy program to explain (the teacher's 'scripting' is straightforward and easy to teach) and my kids caught on to it immediately. It's wonderful!

  6. Hi Tiffany, we use All About Spelling! I share why I love teaching with All About Spelling, and here is my review of All About Reading 2 combined with All About Spelling 2 . All About Learning Press is sharing about why AAS works on their blog ~ Here is a great place to start: Spelling Can Be Easy. It really is a wonderful program! It can be teacher intensive, so it is not for everyone, but it has really made a difference in our homeschool. :)

  7. Couldn't agree more, Audrey! :D

  8. Love your review! I too need spelling rules because Seth needs the why's....he needs rules to fall back on when he's spelling a word. It looks like it did give you some ideas on how to make your current program even better. Thanks for sharing your review as I was curious about this program.

  9. I am so glad I am not the only one this wasn't a natural fit for. I think you explained my hesitations even better than I did. Fantastic job!

  10. Thank you for sharing this! I think this might be our good fit after our failed attempts with AAS.

  11. This review makes me feel so much better. lol

    Right after I ordered AAS1 for next year, they announced this and I was a little bummed because I love MUS. Then when I saw it was up for review on the Crew I was slightly crushed that I had quit before I had a chance to review it. But now I can see that is not for us so I can stop grumbling now and know that I made the right choice after all. lol

    Thanks!!! ;)

  12. Yes!! Rest assured you made the right choice! During my review, I told myself that even if I did only one lesson every TWO WEEKS, I still felt better about doing AAS. But I have a renewed love for it after this, and we are doing at least 3 lessons a week now (level 3). :D

    Why did you quit?! Would have been so fun to be on there with you!!

  13. You're welcome! I hope it works well for you! I think I told you that I thought of you a lot during my review (hence, why I wrote that it would be great for natural spellers!). :)

  14. Adjusting to the girl's diabetes, and the lack of sleep that comes with it lol, was kicking my hiney so something had to give. The Crew was it.

    We're adjusting and I'm getting into somewhat of a groove but I still haven't found the energy to do all that I used to. We're knocking out the school and enjoying life though. I haven't blogged or scrapped since December and I have months of photos so edit that are still on my camera. lol But I suppose I'll get there one day.

    The thing I miss most about the Crew are the people. The freebies were nice but the people were awesome. I did learn that I have a really good handle on what works for the girls so at this point adding in extra was just too much. Well Kayleigh is still a bit of a mystery but I've got what works for Mackenzie down pat. lol

    Although if that new geography program, North Star, from Bright Ideas Press gets reviewed I might whine a bit more. lol I've been eyeing that and trying to decide how best to squeeze the money from my hubby.

  15. Aw, well I totally understand. I took much of last year off (blogging regularly) and almost walked away completely. (If I hadn't been accepted to the Crew, I may just have). I was missing the connected feeling I used to have with blogging and feeling behind the times. I knew the Crew forum would be a wonderful source of support for homeschooling as well as blogging (I agree - the free product is just icing on the cake!). I can't juggle as much with my older boys (who need a set curriculum), but have more flexibility with the younger kids. So, I do understand there as well.

    I was following your journey and know how much the diagnosis changed your lives. I understand even more now that I am doing Trim Healthy Mama (a low glycemic plan). After I was off sugar and dealt with the withdrawals, I felt so much better and had more energy. Then I go and mess it up and eat sugar and boy does it wreak havoc with me! I am super irritable and crash hard. I have to stay on plan as much as possible. There are many wonderful sugar free deserts on the plan - if you haven't already heard of it, you should check it out. I make mini chocolate cakes (made with Truvia) and cheesecakes that are soooo good. :) Most of the time I don't miss sugar (and I've lost 20 pounds!). Ok, commercial over. LOL. Take care, Stefanie, and enjoy your time off!