Seeing Stars® and Catch a Star® are registered trademarks of Nanci Bell and are not affiliated with SPELL-Links to Reading & WritingTM or Learning By Design, Inc. LiPS® is a registered of Lindamood Language & Literacy Consultants and is not affiliated with SPELL-Links to ReadingTM & Writing or Learning By Design, Inc.

“I used Seeing Stars for many years because I knew how important the visual imagery piece is for our students, but found I had to supplement with other programs and activities to meet all of my students’ needs…then I found SPELL-Links…everything I need to address the entire process is here in one place! It's a powerful spelling, reading, word study program!" 

Lynn Daughtry, Reading Specialist

Mt. Prospect, IL



Seeing Stars ®

SPELL-Links to Reading &


Program Philosophy

​Development of Symbol Imagery

Symbol imagery is used to develop phonemic awareness, sight word memory, and spelling. Students receive instruction and practice with activities that develop symbol imagery (visualization of the letters of words) and application of symbol imagery to reading and spelling. 

​Development of Multi-Linguistic, Meta-Linguistic Word Study Skills

Speech to print word study instruction is used to teach and develop phonological awareness, phonics, decoding, spelling, vocabulary, mental images of words and automatic word recognition. Students engage in a variety of structured literacy and meta-cognitive activities that develop multi-linguistic skills and meta-cognitive strategies and receive practice with application of word study knowledge, skills and strategies to spelling and reading.

Model of Instruction

Multi-Linguistic Model

Phonological awareness (articulatory and auditory) and visual memory for letters are integrated across program levels.

5 Block Multi-Linguistic Model

Phonological awareness (articulatory and auditory), orthographic, vocabulary/semantics, morphological knowledge and processing, and word imaging are integrated throughout the curriculum and across all grades.

Directionality and Organization of Instruction

Print to Speech 

Instruction starts with letters and the student is instructed to say the corresponding sound for each letter or letter group (digraph). 

Instruction is organized by number of sounds, moving from individual sounds and their corresponding letters or groups of letters (digraphs), to one syllable words (with progression from CV/VC to CVC, to CCV/VCC, CCVC/CVCC to CCVCC sound structure) to multi-syllable words.

​Speech to Print

Instruction starts with sounds and the student discovers common and alternative allowable spellings for each phoneme.

 Instruction is organized by sounds, letters, and meanings of words, gradually progressing from patterns that are linguistically most simple to those that are linguistically most complex based on a combination of phonological, orthographic, and morphological properties.

Starting Point of Instruction


Entry points are typically limited with the same instructional program and sequence for all; Differentiation occurs in the pacing of presentation.


Using the SPELL-LinksTM diagnostic software (SPELL-2), the entry point and targeted intervention plan is uniquely prescribed for each student with differentiated pacing and instruction for all.​​

Phonemic Awareness


Sound manipulation activities are included, typically completed mentally during visualization of the written word. Recommendation is given to combine Seeing Stars® with LiPS®, especially for students with severe weakness in PA.


Spoken syllable and phoneme segmentation activities are included and immediately connected with written letters in order to foster visual-auditory connections.

Explicit Focus on Articulatory Feedback

Not Included

Focus on sensory input from mouth is provided separately in LiPS®.


Focus on sensory input from mouth is integrated throughout the curriculum and across all grades. 

Phoneme Discrimination and Identification

Not a Core Component

Suggestions are provided for adding or incorporating LiPS® (sold separately).

Core Component

Explicit phoneme discrimination and identification instruction, critical for struggling readers and writers and ELL students, is included.

Prosodic Awareness

Not Included

Included and Integrated with Visual Support

Explicit phoneme discrimination and prosodic awareness instruction, critical for struggling readers and writers and ELL students, is included.


Not a Core Component

Does not explicitly and systematically teach letter-sound correspondences. Suggestions are provided for incorporating Seeing Stars® into an existing phonics program.

Core component

Explicitly and systematically develops sound-letter and letter-sound correspondences. SPELL-Links to Reading & WritingTM can replace an existing phonics program.​

Letter Patterns & Spelling Rules

Letter-based rules are taught

A set of print-based rules including “final e,” “two vowels go walking,” and “open vowels” are taught. A limited number of phonics rules are taught; focus instead is on activating and integrating the auditory, visual, and language systems.

Sound-based and letter-based rules are actively discovered by student

A limited number of rules are introduced; focus instead is on activating and integrating the phonological, orthographic, semantic, morphological, and imaging processes.

Syllable Divisions

Based on Man-made Conventions for Printed Words

Print-based: Students are taught to divide syllables based on visual letter patterns (e.g., between double letter). 

Based on Biologically-Inherent Syllable Separations of Spoken Language

Speech-based: Students engage in direct mapping of spoken syllables with their corresponding letters; words are broken into syllables based on the natural syllable separations of spoken language.



Separately, vocabulary lessons are included for “star words” within the “Catch a Star®” workbooks. 

Fully Integrated in the Program

Vocabulary building activities, including homophones and Tier 2 vocabulary, are built into the program across all grades.


Not a Core Component

Students practice imagery for a limited set of common affixes.

Core Component

Explicitly and systematically teaches letter-meaning relationships of prefixes, suffixes, and word roots, develops derivational vocabulary skills, and provides practice for application of morphological knowledge and strategies to reading and spelling.



Students develop and use PA and word images to correctly spell words.

Fully Integrated in the Program

Spelling (encoding) is a gateway through which students develop and use PA, orthographic, vocabulary, morphological knowledge and word images to correctly spell and read words. 14 encoding strategies are explicitly taught and practiced to improve spelling skills.



The decoding program includes sentences and stories with target orthographic patterns for decoding practice.

Fully Integrated in the Program 

Pattern loaded sentenced and stories are included for each targeted pattern, and 14 decoding strategies are explicitly taught and practiced to improve decoding skills.​​

“Sight” Words

Taught Separately

A “star words” list includes the high frequency words in English, some of which follow common orthographic patterns and some which contain irregular spelling patterns. These words are included as a separate step within the program.

Integrated Instruction

Layered within lessons to fully integrate the spelling (letters) of a word with its sounds and meaning.

Nonsense Words

Integrated with Instruction; Used for Imagery

Included and practiced with target syllable pattern to give students practice to develop imagery for sequences of letters. 

Integrated with Instruction; Used for Problem Solving and Demonstration of Learning

Used by students and combined with think out louds to develop meta-linguistic skills and to demonstrate students’ internalized learning and problem solving for encoding and decoding words.


Analyze, Visualize, Say & Write

Students are asked to analyze the syllable pattern and letters (presented either visually or auditorily), write the word (progressing from air writing to finger writing to writing with a pencil), visualize the word, and then mentally manipulate the word (i.e. “What letters do you picture in the word “plup?”  Now take out the /l/ sound. What word do you see now?”)

Say & Write, Analyze, Evaluate

Students learn to focus on the phonological structure of a word as they say the word out loud, to simultaneously write with pencil the corresponding letters as they say the sounds, to think about orthographic principles, the meaning of the word, and letter-meaning relationships to spell a word, and to apply meta-linguistic strategies to check their spelling of the word.

Monitoring & Self-Correction

Core Component, Using PA and Images of Words

Explicit instruction and practice is provided for self-monitoring and self-correction when reading and spelling words.

Core Component, Using Sounds, Letters, Meanings, and Images of Words

Explicit instruction and practice is provided for self-monitoring and self-correction when reading and spelling words.

Oral Language Expression

Not a Core Component

Core component

Activities included that provide practice with re-stating and self-formulation of sentences using target pattern vocabulary words.

Motoric Writing Component

Air Writing, Finger Writing, Writing with Pencil

Children progress from writing in the air, to tracing their finger on a paper, to writing words with a pencil in order to help them visualize the letter combinations. 

Writing with Pencil

Students learn and extensively practice saying sounds and syllables as they simultaneously write corresponding letters to foster development of neural functional connectivity and strengthen motor memory for authentic writing.

Meta-Cognitive and Executive Function Components

Two core strategies 

Instruction typically emphasizes breaking printed words into syllables and then creating mental images of letter patterns.​

14 Strategies

Instruction emphasizes using multiple strategies – phonological, orthographic, semantic, morphological, and visualization –  for independent problem solving when spelling and reading unfamiliar words.



There are syllable boards, colored felts, consonant and vowel cards and prefix/suffix cards. Using syllable chains, students are asked to manipulate letters in their minds.

Used in Activities

Activities engage students in manipulation of a variety of common objects (for example, beads, coins; not included) to represent sounds and syllables in spoken words and to assist with mapping sounds with letters.

Small Group & Classroom Instruction

Specific suggestions for group adaptation are provided for each activity.

Specific suggestions for group adaptation are provided for each activity.


Includes letter, syllable, and affix cards, syllable board, decoding workbooks, words, sentences and decodable and leveled-texts for target orthographic pattern. 

Includes word cards, plastic letter tiles, reproducible templates for activities, Home-Link activities, strategy stickers, strategy labels, and pattern-loaded sentences and stories for reading and writing activities with target patterns.


Seeing Stars ® Bundle: $774.90
Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program LiPS®: $444.95 

Total Cost: $1219.85 

SPELL-Links to Reading & WritingTM (complete core program): $349.00

Total Cost: $349.00


How does SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing compare with Seeing Stars®? We’re glad you asked! SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing has much in common with Seeing Stars -symbol imagery, multi-linguistic, multi-modal - AND also has much in common Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing LiPS® - explicit focus on articulatory feedback, intensive work for development of phoneme awareness and phoneme discrimination.

Here we highlight what we believe to be the distinctive advantages of SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing.