Review by Andrea Meyers, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2018
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Subscription-based, student-facing app fine for independent practice

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • English Language Learning

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (56 Reviews)

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Pros: Touch-based, on-the-go access to learning activities.

Cons: Students cannot create or access their custom word lists in the app.

Bottom Line: A potentially more engaging -- although uneven -- option for your students, if you've got a Premium membership.

The app is designed for students to complete the VocabularySpellingCity learning activities. Students use it in the same way as the website. For teachers with a Premium account and students with mobile access, this app provides a good option for completing independent work in class or at home, or as a learning center activity. The touch-based interactions suit some games well and can help students, especially in the lower grades, be a bit more focused. Others, however, are finicky. Teachers may want to review the mobile versions of games before assigning them for independent play to make sure students get the best experience possible.

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The VocabularySpellingCity app offers access to all word lists, learning activities, and student records from the VocabularySpellingCity website. The app no longer works for free members (if you tap the free sample activities, it links out to the website) and requires a Premium membership to the website ($59.95 per year). For subscribers, their students can complete all assignments in the app as well as the browser. The user experience is similar between the two, but the app experience can be uneven. Some of the games play smoothly, but some do not respond well on touchscreens, which students may find frustrating if a game relies on speed. 


Like the website, the VocabularySpellingCity app's activities offer decent practice of vocabulary and spelling skills, but the focus is predominantly on memorization of content.The level of engagement varies, and many of the activities are screen-based multiple-choice worksheet activities. Both the app and the website have read-aloud support, and students can choose to replay words and sentences as needed. Students with learning disabilities may need support or monitoring to complete learning activities, since issues do arise. For example, the Crossword's word bank pops up over the screen and then goes away when the student types. This presents a challenge for students who need visual support to practice spelling. In this situation, a teacher might want to prepare a printed list ahead of time. 

Overall Rating

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

The spelling and vocabulary activities may be a little more interesting than pencil and paper, but a number of the options are simply multiple-choice problems.

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

The simple learning activities emphasize the lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy (remembering, understanding, applying). 

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

The app is an extension of the website, focusing just on completing activities. Though it's generally easy to learn, there's not much help included.

Common Sense Reviewer
Andrea Meyers Technology Assistant and graduate student in instructional technology

Teacher Reviews

(See all 56 reviews) (56 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Sally R. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Leontine Gracey Elementary School
Merced, United States
Great interactive spelling practice and assessment with immediate feedback.
Overall, I would recommend this product as an effective practice tool. I would clarify that it DOES NOT replace authentic teaching of key spelling and phonics concepts. However, the engagement factor has helped certain students improve their spelling by virtue of more consistent practice and the real-time data and differentiation options have helped me to refine the way that I meet the needs of individual students.
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