Getting Started with Spelling You See


Each child is unique, and so is Spelling You See. We’ve provided some important guidelines to determine your student’s spelling readiness. Read through these and review the specific information about each level to see which one will best suit your needs. Questions about where to begin? We’re happy to help. Click the Contact Us link in the lower right of your screen to get in touch.

General Spelling Readiness Guidelines

Is Your Child Ready for Level A — Listen and Write?

illustration from Listen and Write

This level is for a beginning reader who is still learning letter names and sounds and how to hold a pencil properly when writing.

Questions to ask:

  • Can my student focus on a worksheet for at least 10 minutes?
  • Can my student identify most of the letters of the alphabet?
  • Can my student write letters?
  • Can my student write fairly comfortably?
  • Does my student understand that letters make sounds?

If you answered “Yes” to all these questions, your child is ready to begin Listen and Write.

Listen and Write will provide lots of practice in writing individual letters and in hearing the sounds they make in simple words.

Is Your Child Ready for Level B — Jack and Jill?

illustration from Jack and Jill

This level is suggested for a developing reader who prints easily with lowercase letters and who knows most letter sounds, including long and short vowels.

Questions to ask:

  • Can my student focus on a worksheet for at least 10 minutes?
  • Can my student write comfortably?
  • Can my student give the sounds for most letters?
  • Is my student beginning to read?

If you answered “Yes” to all these questions, your child is ready to begin Jack and Jill.

Jack and Jill will provide practice in writing individual letters and in hearing the sounds they make in simple words. It will also provide opportunities for students to study words in the context of nursery rhymes by marking letter patterns, copying words and passages, and writing from dictation.

Is Your Child Ready for Level C — Wild Tales?

illustration from Wild Tales

This level is suggested for a student who knows letter sounds and spells many common words correctly.

Questions to ask:

  • Is my student becoming comfortable with reading?
  • Can my student comfortably write two or three sentences at a time?

Skills assessment:

  • The following passage is written at the minimum reading level for Wild Tales. Can your student read it without difficulty?

Some sheep are wild. Bighorn sheep live on mountains and high hills. Male sheep are called rams. They use the horns to fight other rams. Flocks of sheep eat grass in the meadows. They climb steep hills to find more food.

Now dictate the passage to your student. Then answer the following questions:

  • Was my student able to complete the dictation with relative ease?
  • Was my student able to complete the dictation in 10 minutes or less?
  • When writing the passage from dictation, did my student correctly spell at least eight of the words from this list?
sheep, called, horns, they, fight, eat, grass, hills, find, food

If you answered “Yes” to all these questions, your child is ready to begin Wild Tales.

Wild Tales will provide opportunities for students to study words in the context of factual passages about animals. Students will mark various letter patterns, copy passages, and produce their own compositions or drawings. They will also practice writing the stories from dictation with assistance.

Is Your Child Ready for Level D — Americana?

illustration from Americana

This level is suggested for a student who is a proficient reader with gradually improving spelling skills.

The student should be able to write an entire paragraph comfortably.

Skills assessment:

  • The following passage is taken from the previous level of Spelling You See and is written at the minimum reading level for Americana. Can your student read it without difficulty?
Seahorses are fish, but they are not like other fish. Seahorses swim upright. They have a curved neck. They do not have scales. Their fins are very small, so they swim poorly. A seahorse uses its tail to hold onto sea grasses. A group of seahorses is called a herd — just like a herd of horses!

Now dictate the passage to your student. Then answer the following questions:

  • Was my student able to complete the dictation with relative ease?
  • Was my student able to complete the dictation in 10 minutes or less?
  • When writing the passage from dictation, did my student correctly spell at least ten of the words from this list?
fish, like, other, swim, have, curved, neck, small, tail, group, herd, horses

If you answered “Yes” to all these questions, your child is ready to begin Americana.

Americana will provide opportunities for students to study words in the context of stories about events and people in American history. Students will mark various letter patterns, copy passages, and practice writing the stories from dictation.

Is Your Child Ready for Level E — American Spirit?

illustration from American Spirit

This level is suggested for a student who spells many common words confidently but who may not be ready for the more advanced reading level and content of Ancient Achievements.

The student should be able to write complete paragraphs comfortably.

Skills assessment:

  • The following passage is taken from the previous level of Spelling You See and is written at the minimum reading level for American Spirit. Can your student read it without difficulty?
As a young man, Johnny Appleseed learned how to grow apple trees. When settlers moved into Ohio and Indiana, he planted orchards for them. He also planted orchards of his own and sold trees. Johnny lived simply. He had no house. He walked from place to place. His clothes were ragged. He is remembered for helping many needy people.

Now dictate the passage to your student. Then answer the following questions:

  • Was my student able to complete the dictation with relative ease?
  • Did my student complete the dictation in 10 minutes or less?
  • When writing the passage from dictation, did my student correctly spell at least eight words of the words from this list?
young, learned, apple, settlers, planted, simply, house, walked, clothes, people

If you answered “Yes” to all these questions, your child is ready to begin American Spirit.

American Spirit provides continued practice in the Skill Development stage of spelling using the core activities of chunking, copywork, and dictation. Most children require several years of practice at the Skill Development stage.

Is Your Child Ready for Level F — Ancient Achievements?

illustration from Ancient Achievements

This level is for a child who is nearing the end of the Skill Development stage.

The student should be able to write complete paragraphs comfortably.

Skills assessment:

  • The following passage is taken from the previous level of Spelling You See and is written at the minimum reading level for Ancient Achievements. Can your student read it without difficulty?
Philo was very interested in electronics. When he was a teenager, he found a stash of science magazines. He studied them carefully. He learned that scientists were trying to make a new machine. It would use electricity to send and show pictures. He thought about it. He talked with his science teachers. One day he drew a picture on the chalkboard. It showed how a television could work. Philo Farnsworth’s plan was the first idea that worked.

Now dictate the passage to your student. Then answer the following questions:

  • Was my student able to complete the dictation with relative ease?
  • Was my student able to complete the dictation in 10 minutes or less?
  • When writing the passage from dictation, did my student correctly spell at least ten of the words from this list?
interested, science, magazines, studied, electricity, pictures, thought, talked, teachers, chalkboard, television, idea

If you answered “Yes” to all these questions, your child is ready to begin Ancient Achievements.

Ancient Achievements provides continued practice in the Skill Development stage of spelling with passages of gradually increasing difficulty. At the same time, it introduces students to interesting facts about word roots and more advanced word patterns. It is designed as a bridge to the Word Extension stage of spelling.

Is Your Child Ready for Level G — Modern Milestones?

illustration from Modern Milestones

The student should be able to complete this skills assessment successfully. Also, the student should be able to follow written instructions and work independently.

Skills assessment:

  • The following passage is taken from the previous level of Spelling You See and is written at the minimum reading level for Modern Milestones. Can your student read it without difficulty?
The Chinese were the first people to print books. Their language uses thousands of characters instead of a simple alphabet. For many years they carved each page into a wooden block. Later, each character was carved from clay. The characters were baked so they would harden. Next they were fastened onto iron plates. A page was printed from each plate. Thankfully the clay characters could be used over and over! The process was a challenge. Still, it was easier than copying books by hand.

Now dictate the passage to your student. Then answer the following questions:

  • Was my student able to complete the dictation with relative ease?
  • Was my student able to complete the dictation in 10 minutes or less?
  • When writing the passage from dictation, did my student correctly spell at least ten of the words from this list?
language, thousands, characters, alphabet, carved, wooden, harden, fastened, iron, thankfully, process, challenge, easier

If you answered “Yes” to all these questions, your child is ready to begin Modern Milestones.

Modern Milestones is written for students who are in the Word Extension stage of spelling. It assumes that students can spell most words that they can read, although they may be uncertain about how those words change when adding various prefixes or suffixes. While this level incorporates principles and activities from previous levels of Spelling You See, it is written for students who are ready to study specific word patterns and work more independently. A solid foundation in the Skill Development stage is essential for success in Modern Milestones.