Growing up in my house there were countless games of Scrabble and informal spelling bees. Those were about the only fun ways my siblings and I had to learn how to spell. Today, there are plenty of iPad apps that bring an element of fun to spelling lessons. Here is a selection of some of the dozens of spelling apps that I’ve tested over the last few years.
Words Mine is a free iPad app that combines elements of Tetris with spelling games. The challenge of Words Mine is to spell words quickly before the screen fills up with blocks. Each block contains one letter. Choose blocks from each column to be sure that one column doesn’t reach the top of the screen too quickly. A columns drop down when a letter is used from it. If you need more letter options just shake your iPad to make more letters drop into the screen.
Spelling Monster is an iPad app (free and paid versions available) that students will enjoy using to practice spelling words. On Spelling Monster students can create their own lists of words or use lists shared with them (sharing only available in paid version). The app contains a half dozen games through which students can practice spelling the words in their lists. Spelling Monster keeps track of the number of times a game is played and the percentage of words spelled correctly. Students do not have to create an account to use Spelling Monster. The app can be used without a connection to the Internet.
Spell ’til You Drop is a free iPad app from McGraw-Hill. The app gets its name from the game format used throughout the app. To play the game students have to correctly spell words as they are read aloud to them. For each correctly spelled word students move across a footbridge. For each word spelled incorrectly a piece of the bridge drops away. The app has eight difficulty levels for students to play. My one complaint about the app is that it doesn’t use a QWERTY keyboard.
Endless Wordplay is a great app from the same people that brought us the popular Endless Alphabet,Numbers, and Reader apps. In Endless Alphabet students help a friendly monster navigate a make believe world by spelling words correctly. At each stop in the adventure students have to spell a series of three rhyming words. The app reads the word to students and provides them with hints when they get stuck on a spelling. Endless Wordplay doesn’t award points. Instead of earning points the incentive is just to keep moving forward in the game at your own pace.
Manulife Word Hunter is a free iPad app designed to help children learn new words. The app features a board game that students move through by rolling dice and correctly spelling new words as they go. Kids can play the game alone or with up to two other players. A student who plays alone will be playing against the automated players.
Animals Flip and Mix ($1.99) is a fun iPad app that elementary school students will enjoy using. The app presents students with cartoon drawings of animals and plants. The drawings are divided into three sections. Each section has a syllable written next to it. Students have to sort the thirds of the cartoon animal or plant until its name is correctly spelled. When they’ve correctly spelled a name they can play a short game or see the cartoon animal in action.
Word Wizard ($2.99) is an iPad app that elementary school students can use to learn the sounds of the letters of the alphabet, sound-out words, and spell new words. The app has two primary modes to it. In the “Movable Alphabet” mode students can drag and drop letters on a board to try to create words. In Movable Alphabet mode each time a student touches a letter the narrator makes the sound of that letter. If a student combines letters, the narrator will make the sound of that letter combination. That pattern continues until a word has been created. In Word Wizard’s Spelling Quiz mode students select a word list from the gallery of lists. After selecting a list students have to spell the words that the narrator reads to them. To help students spell each word each letter is pronounced while the student drags it onto the letter board. Word Wizard offers four narrator voices to choose from. I found the “Tracy” voice with the US accent easiest to understand. There is also a “Rachel” voice with a UK accent, a “Tyler” voice with an Australian accent, and another US voice called “Heather.”
Rocket Speller is a fun iPad app designed for students in Kindergarten through grade two. The purpose of the app is to help students learn to spell words simple words that are three to ten letters long. As students progress through the levels of the app they get stars. After they get three stars students pick out the parts they want to use to build a rocket ship. Rocket Speller has five levels for students to work through. The first level uses three to six letter words and gives audio and visual clues to students. The second level features words up to ten letters in length and offers audio and visual hints. The third through fifth levels have words up to ten letters in length but reduce the number of clues available to students.
Bitsboard is a free iPad app that provides word games, memory games, spelling games, and reading practice activities, and dozens of other activities in one place. On the Bitsboard app students can learn new vocabulary words, how to tell time, and how to count money. Students can also use the app to learn basic geography. When students first open Bitsboard on their iPads they will have six topics shown on their homescreens. Those six topics are emotions, animals, famous places, first sentences, introductory English vocabulary, and introductory Spanish vocabulary. Opening any of those topics takes students to their choice of eight practice activities including flashcards, true or false quizzes, word building practice, reading practice, and matching activities.
Stumpy’s Alphabet Dinner is a fun app in which students feed letters and shapes to cartoon characters. The letters and shapes that students feed to the characters have to match the letter or shape displayed on the character’s stomach. If the child makes an incorrect match the character spits out the letter.