Elementary School, Middle School

Eight iPad Apps to Help Students Learn to Spell

baby-25800_640 Last night two champions were crowned at Scripps National Spelling Bee. While using the following iPad apps may not turn students into national champion spellers, they can certainly help your students develop their spelling skills.

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.

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.

Vocabulary and Spelling City has been available on the web for years. It’s a great place for students to go to learn and practice spelling new vocabulary words. Last year they launched an iPad and iPhone app. The free app grants students access to the same vocabulary lists that they use on the SpellingCity website. SpellingCity’s list of words for students currently exceeds 42,000. The Spelling and Vocabulary City app offers eight free practice activities. I am particularly fond of the Missing Letter and Audio Word Match activities. In Missing Letter students have to identify the letter that is missing in order to correctly spell the words that they see. Audio Word Match is a memory game in which students flip over cards, hear the words on the cards read aloud, then try to match the cards.

Spellyfish is a pair of iPad apps designed to help students learn phonics. Spellyfish Short A Words focuses on teaching students how to recognize and spell consonant-vowel-consonant words that contain the letter “A” and the short “A” sound. Spellyfish Short I Words teaches students to recognize and spell short consonant-vowel-consonant words containing the letter “I.” Both of the Spellyfish apps work in the same way. After the initial set-up of the app (some students may need help from an adult for the set-up) students are presented with an interactive tutorial on the sounds they are going to practice recognizing throughout the app. After each tutorial students try out their new skills by spelling a series of short words. As they type each word the Spellyfish cartoon character pronounces the sounds that each letter makes. If a student spells a word correctly the Spellyfish sounds-out the word then pronounces it as a whole. (The Spellyfish apps currently cost $0.99 USD. The apps support multiple user profiles).

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