Common Sense Review
Updated September 2012

SpellingCity

Charm kids with custom spelling games certain to engage
Common Sense Rating 4
  • Kids find word lists and games on SpellingCity's home page.
  • A missing letter compound word game for grades 2–3.
  • An alphabetizing game for an SAT word list.
  • Kids can search for custom word lists by entering a username, teacher or parent name, or zip code; zip code search results show area schools and teachers with SpellingCity web accounts.
  • Kids see Activity Results (as a percentage grade) after completing a learning activity, but don’t see a list of the words they answered incorrectly.
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.
Kim Alessi
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

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? 4

Kids 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? 3

There's a support section, but it lacks instructions or a video guide for using the app. There's a link to a YouTube video overview of SpellingCity's companion website, which is a roundabout way to offer help.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

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 kids' needs and relevant to their interests, then use those lists in the app. In this way, the SpellingCity app acts as a portal from kids' mobile devices to the classroom and bridges learning between home and school. 

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What's It Like?

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. Kids can practice these word lists in any of the app's engaging learning activities (aka games): “Spelling TestMe,” “HangMouse,” “TeachMe,” “Sentence Unscramble,” “Word Unscramble,” “Missing Letter,” “Alphabetize,” and “Audio Word Match.”

From the app's home screen, kids choose words from 10 sample word 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. They can choose to play the game again or switch to another activity.

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Is It Good For Learning?

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 word lists and activities. By listening to audio playback for each word, they'll hear how it could be used in a context-rich sentence. In-app sample lists include a nice variety of words: math and science words, compound words, sound-alike words, analogies, and prefix/suffix words.

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 kids motivated to improve their scores.

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See how teachers are using SpellingCity

Lesson Plans