Hoppy the frog teaches sight word spelling.

Licking Letters

Appealing characters, creative premise make spelling fun

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Subjects & Skills

English Language Arts

Price: Paid
Platforms: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Pros: Cute and colorful characters keep kids' attention.

Cons: Kids could randomly tap with no thought or learning and complete the levels.

Bottom Line: Silly fun for learning letters and sight words, but better options abound.

Many other options, better suited to learning, are available for teaching spelling and sight-word recognition. Licking Letters is fun -- especially dressing up Hoppy -- so kids will want to play, and some learning will sink in. Teachers could use it as a station activity where kids will have fun practicing letters and sight words. To focus on sight words, teachers will want to change the settings to turn on Spelling in Order. The default is off and lets kids tap letters in any order, not the word's spelling order.

Licking Letters uses a cute and encouraging frog to help kids practice identifying letters and spelling short words. At the beginning of each round, a word is shown and read aloud, and each letter is introduced. The letters then float across the screen; when one of the target letters is above the frog, kids tap the screen to watch the frog lick the letter. This continues until all the letters in the word have been selected. Players can choose whether the letters appear randomly or only in the correct spelling order for the word. The first few rounds have three-letter words and only include target letters, but the game gradually becomes more challenging. Completing a round earns a coin that can be used to buy costume items for the frog. Coins can also be earned in frequent bonus rounds that involve quick response times and feature a grumpy alligator in games that aren't learning-based.

Kids will love Licking Letters for its large variety of mini-games and their ability to earn coins to dress up Hoppy, but the educational value doesn't run very deep. Kids are exposed to letters, but the game requires more fine motor skills than spelling skills. The option to choose whether or not the letters appear in word order does give some flexibility in the challenge level, however. Licking Letters is positive and fun, and kids will enjoy earning rewards and playing with the silly frog and alligator, and they may even pick up a few sight words. For each round, kids will see a short sight word, like bed, and hear the word pronounced and each letter spelled out. They'll then hear the letters again when they "lick" the correct letter. All letters are shown in uppercase with no option to change to lowercase.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

Fun letter game mixes a straightforward and repetitive spelling game with flashy costumes, quick bonus rounds, and encouraging words to keep kids interested and engaged.


Kids could randomly tap and spell words with no learning taking place. Play does adapt based on performance, speeding up as kids progress or repeating the same letter when kids get stuck.


Hoppy the Frog talks kids through each step and provides visual aids. No data is kept about performance or mastered words.

Common Sense reviewer
Amanda Bindel
Amanda Bindel Teacher

Community Rating

Colorful, fun, and engaging for very young learners that really only teaches sight recognition of alphabet, but also provides practice of cognitive and tactile skills.

Licking Letters is for very young learners and really only teaches letter sight recognition. However, a few other cognitive and tactile skills are required to play Licking Letters that provide a multi-sensory practice such as; eye-hand coordination, memory, and some higher level thinking (again, really only for very early or young learners) in the use of remembering letters to find and selecting the appropriate letter at the moment the frog can lick it, recall, matching, and spatial skills to name a few. In the reward games, Licking Letters also utilizes memory practice, and the connection between remembering instructions to appropriately play the game over the short term.

There are two basic levels in Licking Letters: Selecting the letters in the order they are presented; and, selecting letters in random order. The second option requires much higher level thinking skills in that learners in that sequencing of the order is now slightly skewed.

Licking letters is a simple game that provides a few options; letters in sequence or not, sound or not, uppercase only or not, and rewards. Licking Letters should not be mistaken for a spelling game, as spelling is not the objective.

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