A colorful and useful app for helping kids learn to spell
We’ve covered quite a few sight words and spelling apps on the site recently, thanks in no small part to some very cool ideas that are showing up on the educational apps radar. Learning to read sight words (words whose spelling is not straightforward and which, therefore, cannot be identified by being “sounded out”) is no small part of becoming a fluent reader. Today we’re taking a look at Sight Words & Spelling, a new iPad app from Marcel Widarto whose earlier app, Sight Words Hangman, we reviewed back in February.
Sight Words & Spelling improves on Sight Words Hangman in a few ways. The design, for instance, really stands out. The adorable characters and soothing colors are the result of a collaboration with Pixopop, which is the name for the accumulated works of artist Ali Sabet. There’s Draco, Pinku and Stitch, and the user can choose any of these to accompany them through the app.
The sight words are divided into 24 lists of 10 words each, and there are three modes of studying. Here’s a quick summary of how each one functions:
Flash Cards: This part works pretty much as expected. One of the sight words appears on the screen and the user should do his/her best to read it. If they can’t, tapping the word will read the word aloud.
Word Challenge: In this section, the goal is to fill in, bit by bit, the pieces of your cartoon character. The narrator reads a word, and the user must find that word in the list of four to the right. Each correct answer adds a bit of body to the cartoon.
Spelling: The narrator reads each word out loud, and the user must spell it, entering the letters on a small onscreen keyboard.
The app keeps score and gives points (in increments of four, for some reason). Perfect scores unlock future levels and earn trophies – although it’s not clear what the trophies are good for. None of the exercises are timed, which could be a good or a bad thing. Perhaps the option would have been a useful addition.
Customized spelling lists
One of the best features of this app is the freedom to create personalized spelling lists. While the app automatically tracks words the user gets wrong for future practice, parents or teachers can also create a brand-new list of words. This is an excellent way to practice for spelling tests, and users can even record the words and sample sentences to truly engage the child. Also, this means that once your child has mastered sight words, they can continue to use the app to learn more difficult vocabulary.
Practicing sight words in three different ways is a great way to assist memorization, and the cartoon characters give a light-hearted feel to the app (certainly more light-hearted than the “hangman” theme of Widarto’s earlier app, although we liked that one too!). The app is easy to navigate and offers a great deal of function for the price.
|Good Point||Customizable spelling lists mean this app can be used even after sight words have been mastered.|
|Bad Point||The keyboard is laid out in alphabetical order, but considering how much time kids spend on the computer an option for QWERTY layout would be nice.|
|Comment & Tip||It’s easy to miss, but the difficulty of the words can be adjusted in the Settings (tap the icon on the home page).|
|Price||$2.99||Latest Update||April 30, 2012|
|User Age||4 and up||Category||Education|
|Size||21.9MB||OS||iOS 4.3 or later|
All images from Sight Words & Spelling