Common Sense Review
Updated November 2013

Welcome to this activity-filled city of words
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • The educator dashboard provides access to games and other activities; teachers can also create their own word lists.
  • Site games center on spelling and word identification.
  • Users can view themed word lists.
  • Users can also view a number of videos and access other information to understand how to use the site as a learning tool.
  • Teachers can also access dozens of classroom resources on the site.
The site games and activities are fun and can help enhance kids' language arts skills.
Games don't always provide consistent challenges, and the Common Core Standard tie-in isn't always clear.
Bottom Line
The paid version provides nice tracking capabilities and fun spelling and word activities but may need more to keep kids coming back.
Erin Brereton
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Interactive games feature audio, including narrators who read words and sounds that ring out after kids respond, and provide valuable language lessons in an entertaining format. Kids can move at their own pace and get hints if they need to.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Kids get language, vocabulary, spelling, logic, and reading practice. You can personalize learning by customizing word lists, and paid subscribers can access writing exercises, flashcards, and other resources.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Short videos explain site content. Users pose questions and suggestions on a forum, and teachers can access lessons, classroom ideas, printable worksheets, educational articles, and resources on topics such as British spelling.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It? is best suited for individual work; kids need to listen to a narrator before responding. The site recommends creating an account for each student. Teachers can also make their own word lists and import lists, or use ones provided by the site.Educators can share assignments through the system so that students only see their specific work when they log in. Students can learn new words, practice spelling and logic skills, and learn about pronunciation by playing the site’s games. The educator version also includes writing activities and printable worksheets, along with dozens of classroom activity ideas and other educator resources. 

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What's It Like? (formerly known as SpellingCity) offers about a dozen free learning-based games and other activities, including vocabulary and spelling lists. You can register for free to save and share word lists. Teachers and schools can also sign up for a paid, ad-free subscription to the site, which provides a tracking system to monitor kids' results and educational extras, including flashcards, additional games, and sentence and paragraph writing exercises. Many games feature a cute little mouse; for example, in Letterfall, the mouse has to catch droplets of water that contain letters in order to spell out a word. Site materials correlate to the Common Core Standards; educators can view a list of what standards various activities involve.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Kids can easily figure out the site's games, which, as an added bonus, typically provide more than one educational benefit. The Word Unscramble game, for example, mixes spelling and vocabulary work with logic practice; similarly, a narrator reads each letter in a word in the site's spelling lessons, which can help kids with pronunciation, reading, and usage. Kids can often get a hint if they’re stuck and see correct answers for any questions they've missed, and they move at their own pace, clicking to the next screen or word when they're ready. The site has a few drawbacks: Kids need a computer with audio capabilities to view the site, and they aren't likely to play the games multiple times -- some seem to have just one level and feature the same words. 

But's free version provides a decent sampling of the site's educational activities -- enough to help kids strengthen some language skills -- and the paid version can help parents and teachers track their progress. Some minor navigation tweaks and additional game content would make the site an even stronger learning resource.

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