Teacher Review For SpellingCity

Terrific ways to practice spelling new words and construct sentences

Mieke V.
Researcher
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
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My Rating 4
Learning Scores
Engagement 4
Pedagogy 4
Support 4
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time Less than 5 minutes
Great for Further application
Homework
Individual
Knowledge gain
Practice
Small group
Student-driven work
Great with Advanced learners
ELL
General
Low literacy
Special needs
How I Use It
Vocabulary Spelling City has many interesting applications for the classroom. For instance, students can use the app to review words already introduced in the classroom or learn new words. The sister website is a really useful tool for learning about how to use the app and it offers resources such as additional word lists organized by theme, printable activities, and videos demonstrating ways to use the games with your students. If using the pre-loaded word lists, the app can be easily set up in a matter of minutes. Teachers can also spend a bit more time setting up the app by customizing lists according to what their students are studying (e.g., during a human body science unit, teachers can make a list of words relating to the human body). The app is also relevant for a large age range: kindergarteners just learning to read and high school seniors getting ready to take the SAT can all use this app to work on their vocabulary. However, navigating the menu might be a bit tricky for the youngest students: users must first choose from one list of word categories on the left side of the screen and then choose from a second list of games on the right side of the screen. Adding additional word lists involves navigating through multiple screens, logging in with a user name and password (registration is free on the website), using a search tool, and downloading the list. Teachers of younger students will have to play an active role in setting up each activity whereas older students will easily be able to navigate through the different games and load different word lists on their own. The app works best when used by individual students or small groups of students in the classroom or at home. The app can even be used to administer spelling tests. Some of the games, (e.g., HangMouse) can lend themselves to a larger group. The website also offers printable materials such as spelling practice lists, handwriting guides, and games like crossword puzzles. Though the free version offers a good number of spelling activities, for those who pay the premium price, the app also can be paired with the website’s student tracking (track each students progress and identify problem areas) and individual student customization (e.g., create specific word lists for individual students) capabilities. The premium package also includes vocabulary, synonym and antonym, and parts of speech games.
My Take
The Vocabulary Spelling City app offers a wide variety of spelling and sentence construction games for children from Kindergarten through 12th grade. The app is a new addition to the website VocabularySpellingCity.com and the two work together to provide parents and teachers with endless opportunities to test and support children’s spelling and vocabulary learning. The app offers 8 games, including classic spelling games (e.g., hangman), simple tasks (e.g., alphabetizing a list of words), passive learning games (e.g., students listen and watch as a word is spelled aloud), and active learning games (e.g., students must type a word after hearing it said aloud). Most of the free games involve spelling but there is one game in which users can practice sentence construction by unscrambling words to create a sentence. There are 9 additional games (including vocabulary building games) available if you purchase the premium package. The Vocabulary Spelling City app comes preloaded with themed word lists organized by age group (e.g., for grades K-1 there is a list of colors) and users who register on the website can download additional word lists or create their own. Overall, this is a terrific way for kids to practice spelling, learn new words, and get a little practice in constructing sentences. In many of the word games, users hear the word pronounced and also used in a sentence so children not only practice how to spell the words, but also get a sense of what they mean. There is enough variety in the activities to keep kids interested and there is a good mix of active games (in which users take the lead) and passive games (in which users hear and see words being spelled, pronounced, and used in sentences). A small glitch in using this app to assess sentence construction is that it does not recognize that sometimes sentences can be correctly constructed in more than one way using the same words; this is a problem for some of the sentences in the “sentence unscramble” game because it judges some correctly-formed sentences as wrong. Also, some of the pre-loaded sentences for the younger age groups seem a bit awkward and too complex for the age group to which they are assigned.