Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2016
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Charm kids with custom spelling games certain to engage

Subjects & skills
  • Critical Thinking

  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (57 Reviews)

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Pros: Engaging, customizable word lists make this a powerful, time-saving teacher tool.

Cons: Kids can't create their own spelling lists in-app; plus, in-app support doesn't offer any directions.

Bottom Line: The option to customize word lists combined with fun, relevant activities makes this a teacher must-have.

Along with the website version of SpellingCity, you can definitely work this app into classroom activities. On the website, you can create custom word lists that are tailored to students' needs and relevant to their interests, then use those lists in the app. In this way, the SpellingCity app acts as a portal from students' mobile devices to the classroom and bridges learning between home and school. 

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SpellingCity is a word game app designed to help kids learn spelling and improve vocabulary and grammar skills. It's got 10 free sample lists for K­­–12 students that include math and science words, compound words, sound-alike words, analogies, prefix/suffix words, and SAT prep words. Students can practice these word lists in any of the app's games: Spelling TestMe, HangMouse, TeachMe, Missing Letter, Alphabetize, Audio Word Match, and more. The app links to a companion website where users can create a free account to custom-make spelling word lists for students or purchase a premium membership for added features.

From the app's home screen, kids choose words from the sample lists or search through the custom lists you've made. After arriving at the word list screen, kids can choose any of the learning activities. In each game, kids see words from their list and hear high-quality, pre-recorded playback for each word. Some activities spell out the word letter by letter, while others speak the word in a context-rich sentence. At the end of each activity, kids receive a percentage score indicating how they did on the activity. 

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On its own, SpellingCity is fun but limited; real learning unfolds when the app is paired with its companion website. However, kids can certainly learn spelling, vocab, and grammar skills through the lists and activities in the app; sample lists include a nice variety of words. By listening to audio playback for each word, students will hear how it could be used in a context-rich sentence. 

Activities include spelling a spoken word, matching words in context to sentences, and unscrambling sentences. Learning also happens through fun games like Hang Mouse and MatchIt (a word-sentence matching game). Instant feedback on performance is a nice asset that should keep students motivated to improve their scores.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The interface is colorful and appealing, and the games are engaging for kids from kindergarten through high school.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Students can see and hear words from their lists and practice them by rote or layered into fun games. The app tracks activity results and gives kids scores -- but unfortunately, no summary of which words kids missed.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Video instructions before each game explain how to play (and can be skipped). Teacher data is only accessible through the website.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 57 reviews) (57 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Linda B. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Redlands Adventist Academy
Redlands, CA
Fun app to reinforce spelling skills

This app is best used for practice and reinforcement skills with my students. The only drawback is the repetition of the same words, even after mastery. A wider vocabulary would be more appealing.

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