Seeing Stars® at Home

Seeing Stars® is a program developed by Lindamood-Bell to improve decoding.  I posted on some general techniques they use in a former post, but here I will go into more detail about the Seeing Stars® program.  This is just an overview.  More details would be needed to fully implement this program at home.  The Seeing Stars® Manual (available from Gander Publishing) will guide you through the program step-by-step.  When I tried to research the LMB reading programs myself, it seemed like I could not find anyone to describe the programs, except in very vague terms, so that is why I am putting these out there so that you can see if it is something you would want to tackle at home and which materials you should buy.  Please do not depend on these instructions to do the program at home.  I may have forgotten something or not explained something well.  You really need the manual, at least.

It should be said that the “steps” in these programs are not done one at a time.  It is not that you introduce step one and once mastered, you move to step two.  Instead, you will usually start off with something the student is already doing well and then work with something that provides a challenge and usually incorporate something that is a greater challenge all in one session.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Set the Climate
Tell your student what you will be doing and why.  You can make a very simple drawing to illustrate.
Example:  “I am going to help you picture letters in your head so that it will be a lot easier to read, like this.”  Then draw a head (smiley face) with a thought bubble with a simple word in the bubble.

Step 2: Imaging Letters
a) Using a flashcard (simple card – just the lowercase letter or digraph- no other pictures)  Digraphs are treated as letters, since they work together to make one sound.
Show your student the card for a couple of seconds and then turn it over or cover it.
The student “Air-Writes” the letter and says its name and sound has he/she writes it.
Note on “Air-Writing”: This is just the student using their finger to write the letter in the air.  Require the student to “write” it clearly.  They should look at their hand as they write and it should be about three to six inches (not that you should measure it, but not tiny and not huge).  If  they have a hard time, hold up a standard sheet of notebook paper and let them “write” it with their finger on the paper first to get the idea of how big it should be.  They should be able to see a “shadow effect”.  They should use lower case letters.
WARNING: Pretty much every student hated Air Writing!  You can tell them that after they get really good at it they won’t have to do it very often, so they should do their best to prove that you don’t need to keep working on it.

b) Without a flashcard:The clinician says a letter (or later a letter sound) and the student Air-Writes the letter and its sound while writing.  It is just the same as step 2a, except that the clinician does not show the student the card and may say either the letter’s name or the sound it makes as a prompt.

Step 3: Syllable Cards

The clinician shows the syllable card for a few seconds and then covers it.  The student will see (in his mind), say (the letter names), writes (air-writes) and reads (from his mental picture).

This is one of areas that is hard to re-create without purchasing the cards from Gander.  They cost over $300, so they are not cheap!  You could make your own by using the syllables in the workbooks, but it will be quite a bit of work.
There are several levels of syllable cards, going from simple to complex like this:
CV (Consonant, Vowel, like “my” or “go), VC, CVC, CCV, VCC, CVCC, CCVC, CCVCC

Note:  at the single syllable level, you do not worry about open and closed syllables.  All are treated as closed.
Remember as you handle errors that the student should be directed back to his/her imagery and you are responding to the student’s answer.  (“What letter did you see after the ‘i’? Let’s see if that matches.”)

Here is also where you are going to want to introduce some phonics rules as you come across them like:
-When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking, and it says its own name
-The “Bossy Final E” that makes the first vowel say its name
-The soft and hard g
-The soft and hard c
You can make small drawings  on a 3″x5″ card and hung up in the student’s work area as a visual reminder.

At this step is where you are going to introduce exercises to improve  “symbol imagery.”

Step 4: Imaging and Sequencing Syllables on the Syllable Board

The Syllable board is a small board that is about 1.5″x6″.  On one side it has seven blank lines.  The student “writes” a letter on each line with his/her finger.

This step overlaps with step three.  It is similar, but the word will be “written” on the syllable board (with finger, not actually written) and this can help the student to “hold” the image of the word in their head long enough to compare it with what they are saying and check if it is correct.  There are three stages:
a)Imaging the syllable and “writing” it on the syllable board.  This is done just like step three, but the word is “written” on the board. (Say the letters as they write them and then read from the invisible letters on the board.)

b)Imaging and Air-Writing in a chain
In this exercise, the clinician begins with a word (depending on the level they are working on VC, CV, CVC, etc.) and changes just one sound at at time.  Note that it is one sound, not one letter, so going from “fip” to “foop” would be fine because “oo” works together to make one sound.  In the manual there are many sample chains that you can use right out of the book.

You can also question the student about which letters they see to make sure that image is staying there.  (“What is the last letter you see?”  “What letter do you see second?” “Can you pictures the letters and tell me them backwards?”  “What if we change the ‘i’ to an ‘oo’?  What would we have? ” “Now change the ‘r’ to an ‘s’…etc.”  You want to ensure that the picture of the word is stable in their imagination.  The changes in letters should first be done in a chain (only changing one sound).

c) Continue this, but each syllable is a new syllable, not in a chain.

Step 5: Imaging and Sequencing Syllables: Air-Write with a Chain

This is just like 4b above, but air-writing instead of on the board.  Remember that “in a chain” means changing only one sound at a time and there are many example chains in the manual.  The same kind of symbol imagery exercises are used.

Step 6: Imaging and Sequencing Syllables: Air-Write without a Chain

The same as step 5, but not in a chain.

Step 7: Imaging Sight Words

Use a common sight word list, like Dolch or Fry.  If you get the Seeing Stars® workbooks, they are called “Star Words.”Show the list (one word at a time) and have the student decode the words.  If they are fast immediately, move on to the next word, but if the response is incorrect or slow, write it on a card in lower case letters.  Practice at every session and categorize them into slow, medium or fast, depending on the student’s response time.  They can be practiced by decoding (reading) or spelling.  You can incorporate games to make it more fun.

Step 8: Imaging Spelling

Use a list like the Fry list and dictate them to the student like a spelling test.  The ones that are not easily spelled correctly get put on a “Visual Spelling Chart”
The spelling chart is divided into several columns.  In the first column, the word is written.  The student marks (underlines) the “tricky” part and divides the syllables (/) in that first column and marks the accented syllable.
Then, the student writes the word (can look at the word), then visualize and air-write the word.
The student writes the word (word is covered) while saying it in the next column and then compares in with the original word.
The last column is to mark the dates the student got it correct, so that you know when they have it correct five times.

Step 9: Two Syllable Words and 10:Three Syllable Words

I am not going to go into detail in step eight and nine, but will let you know that the clinician will use many of the same techniques, but now applied to affixes and then multi-syllable words.

I will also say that they have good information on how to split syllables that has helped my son tremendously.

Seeing Stars® is a fabulous program and has been very useful for our homeschool.

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2 thoughts on “Seeing Stars® at Home

  1. I am curious to know, would you recommend using the Seeing Stars and V/V programs simultaneously? My student’s phonetic skills are very good. He also reads “rule breaker” site words very well. His struggle is with spelling “rule breaker” words (i.e. my, house, phone, etc.).

    His main challenge, however, is in comprehension. He definitely needs the V/V program, but I am wondering if I should also invest in SS to improve decoding deficits. I welcome your advice. Many thanks for providing these overviews of the LMB program.

    • My oldest was very advanced speller when he was young, but by about fourth grade he seemed to me to be a little behind. When I had him tested, he was actually just fine, but I felt like he could benefit from the SS program so I did it with him and just went through him quickly, spending a little more time at the advanced levels. It helped with things like tricky endings and the bigger multi-syllable words.
      At the centers, when the kids have a pretty good grasp on spelling, they usually move into V/V right away. If they are really significantly behind they usually do SS for a short time (depending on amount of delay) and then move into V/V, since they are also practicing decoding with V/V, but now they know the rules better and the clinician can refer to them as they are reading, I thing you really could go right into V/V, but if you have the money and time SS could still be beneficial.
      Hope that helps a little.

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