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

Spelling You See uses research-based techniques to help a student develop the visual recall for commonly spelled words that is the hallmark of a confident, competent speller. Children learning to spell in English advance through certain sequential stages and sets of skills. Students will show spelling improvement over time as Spelling You See moves them through these stages.

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

illustration from Listen and Write

Listen and Write will provide lots of practice in writing individual letters and in hearing the sounds that letters make in simple words. This level is for a beginning reader who is still learning letter names and sounds and how to hold a pencil properly when writing.

If you answer “Yes” to these four questions, your student is ready to begin Listen and Write.

  • 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 hold a pencil and write a three-letter word?
  • Does my student understand that letters make sounds?

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

illustration from Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill provides practice in writing individual letters and in hearing the sounds that letters 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.

This level is for the student who prints easily with lowercase letters and who knows most letter sounds, including long and short vowels.

Jack and Jill uses nursery rhymes because they provide a great deal of wordplay in a short passage. They include rhyming, alliteration, and, most importantly, a recognizable context that is essential to fostering confidence in an emerging reader.

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

  • Can my student focus on a worksheet for at least 10 minutes?
  • Can my student hold a pencil and write a sentence?
  • Can my student give the sounds for most letters, including both long and short vowel sounds?
  • Is my student beginning to read books like Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss?

If you answer “No” to any of the questions above, try the readiness guidelines for the previous level, Listen and Write.

Is Your Child Ready for Level C — Wild Tales?

illustration from Wild Tales

Wild Tales provides opportunities for students to study words in the context of factual passages about animals. Students mark various letter patterns, copy passages, and produce their own compositions or drawings. They also practice writing the passages from dictation with assistance. This level is for a student who knows letter sounds and can spell many common words correctly.

Read the passage below to your student, asking them to follow along.

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.

Ask your student to read the passage aloud by themselves.

Dictate the following list of words, one at a time, to your student, asking them to write the words on a piece of paper.

sheep, eat, called, grass, horns, they, find, fight, food

If you can answer “Yes” to these three questions, your student is ready to begin Wild Tales.

  • Can my student write two or three sentences at a time?
  • Was my student able to read the paragraph aloud without sounding words out or pausing? Note that the paragraph is written at the minimum reading level for Wild Tales.
  • Was my student able to spell correctly eight of the ten listed words?

If you answer “No” to any of the questions above, try the readiness guidelines for the previous level, Jack and Jill.

NOTE: If your student is aged 10 or above and can read the passage but did not correctly spell eight of the ten listed words, please reach out for a consultation. Use the Contact Us link below and select “Chat with a Placement Specialist” or call 888-854-6284 (option 1).

Is Your Child Ready for Level D — Americana?

illustration from Americana

Americana provides opportunities for students to study words in the context of factual passages about events and people in American history. Students mark various letter patterns, copy passages, and practice writing the passages from dictation. This level is for a proficient reader with gradually improving spelling skills.

Americana may be appropriate for an older student who reads well at this level but whose spelling skills are not equivalent. Contact a Placement Specialist to discuss the best fit for your student using the Contact Us link below.

Read the passage below to your student, asking them to follow along.

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!

Ask your student to read the passage aloud by themselves.

Dictate the following list of words, one at a time, to your student, asking them to write the words on a piece of paper.

fish, like, other, swim, neck, small, tail, group, herd, horses

If you answer “Yes” to these three questions, your student is ready to begin Americana.

  • Can my student write two or three sentences at a time?
  • Was my student able to read the paragraph aloud without sounding words out or pausing? Note that the paragraph is written at the minimum reading level for Americana.
  • Was my student able to spell correctly eight of the ten listed words?

If you answer “No” to any of the questions above, try the readiness guidelines for the previous level, Wild Tales.

NOTE: If your student is aged 10 or above and can read the passage but did not correctly spell eight of the ten listed words, please reach out for a consultation. Use the Contact Us link below and select “Chat with a Placement Specialist” or call 888-854-6284 (option 1).

Is Your Child Ready for Level E — American Spirit?

illustration from American Spirit

American Spirit uses Spelling You See’s core activities of marking various letter patterns, copywork, and writing the passages from dictation. Students will read about various people and events from American history. This level is for a student who spells many common words confidently, with an emphasis on the mastery of everyday words and experience with English’s many irregular letter patterns. Remember, the reading passages should be very easy for your student. That is intentional, to allow them to focus on spelling.

Read the passage below to your student, asking them to follow along.

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.

Ask your student to read the passage aloud by themselves.

Dictate the following list of words, one at a time, to your student, asking them to write the words on a piece of paper.

young, learned, apple, settlers, planted, simply, house, walked, clothes, people

If you answer “Yes” to these three questions, your student is ready to begin American Spirit.

  • Can my student write for 10 minutes at a time?
  • Was my student able to read the paragraph aloud without sounding words out or pausing? Note that the paragraph is written at the minimum reading level for American Spirit.
  • Was my student able to spell correctly eight of the ten listed words?

If you answer “No” to any of the questions above, try the readiness guidelines for the previous level, Americana. A student who struggles with spelling should not be placed higher than American Spirit, regardless of their level of reading proficiency.

Is Your Child Ready for Level F — Ancient Achievements?

illustration from Ancient Achievements

Ancient Achievements provides continued word practice using core activities of marking letter patterns, copywork, and dictation while gradually increasing the reading level. Students will read about fascinating topics from long ago, such as cave paintings, Viking ships, and the travels of Marco Polo. At the same time, students are introduced to interesting facts about word roots and more advanced word patterns. It is designed as a bridge to the next stage of spelling.

Read the passage below to your student, asking them to follow along.

The man’s first name is pronounced Fy-lo (rhymes with high-low).

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.

Ask your student to read the passage aloud by themselves.

Dictate the following list of words, one at a time, to your student, asking them to write the words on a piece of paper.

interested, science, magazines, studied, electricity, pictures, thought, teachers, television, idea

If you answer “Yes” to these three questions, your student is ready to begin Ancient Achievements.

  • Can my student write for 10 minutes at a time?
  • Was my student able to read the paragraph aloud without sounding words out or pausing? Note that the paragraph is written at the minimum reading level for Ancient Achievements.
  • Was my student able to spell correctly eight of the ten listed words?

If you answer “No” to any of the questions above, try the readiness guidelines for the previous level, American Spirit.

Is Your Child Ready for Level G — Modern Milestones?

illustration from Modern Milestones

In Modern Milestones, students are introduced to a new way of marking word patterns that emphasizes how prefixes and suffixes are added to base words to enhance or change their meanings. Passages on artists, musicians, scientists, and others who have influenced our world since early modern times provide opportunities for students to practice new word patterns in a meaningful context. If your student can spell most words that they can read (although they may be uncertain about how those words change when adding various prefixes or suffixes) and if they are ready to study specific word patterns, they may be ready for Modern Milestones.

Read the passage below to your student, asking them to follow along.

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.

Ask your student to read the passage aloud by themselves.

Dictate the following list of words, one at a time, to your student, asking them to write the words on a piece of paper.

thousands, alphabet, carved, wooden, harden, fasten, iron, thankfully, process, challenge

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

  • Can my student follow written instructions and work independently?
  • Was my student able to read the paragraph aloud without sounding words out or pausing? Note that the paragraph is written at the minimum reading level for Modern Milestones.
  • Was my student able to spell correctly eight of the ten listed words?

If you answer “No” to any of the questions above, try the readiness guidelines for the previous level, Ancient Achievements.