My children started their school year a month or so ago and the homework is coming home. Our teachers are flexible, so along with the traditional paper and pencil activities, they also allow students the option of online activities or computer or tablet Apps. In this post I’m going to highlight a couple of my favourite spelling and sight words apps, and how you can be sneaky and get your children to do more than they think they are doing.
Dedicated Spelling Apps
I have a lot of spelling apps, but the ones that I use for homework are ones that allow me to use the same spelling lists my children bring home. Most of these work the same way:
- Enter a name for your list – I usually use the child’s name, term and week, e.g. Penelope T3Wk2)
- Type in the word – try not to add spaces. (If you add a space at the end of a word, the apps recognise the space as a character. If the space is not typed, the child will be marked as incorrect, even if they were correct. Confused? Just don’t add spaces and you’ll be fine.)
- Record the word – I like to record the word followed by a short phrase or sentence that shows the meaning of the word, e.g. Bed – I sleep in my bed.
- Save the list, then use it to complete the spelling activities.
There are a couple of ways you can get your children to do a little extra work. The apps are really easy to use, so most children will have no problems entering their own lists, which gives them a little more spelling practice. If you get children to record the word and the sentence/phrase, it also gives them an exercise in comprehension and grammar. I find that getting the child to record the list, making up their own sentences orally, helps when it comes to writing sentences in their homework books. Tip: do the recording in a quiet room. Actually, these apps are best used in a quiet space for all the activities as children need to be able to hear the words. You could also use headphones.
Spelling apps that I use include:
- Spelling Star : (Universal, PUblisher: Top class Apps, LLC, Price: 99 cents) – Simple controls, easy to create your own lists, and easy to share spelling lists, making it great for classrooms. Children are awarded a star for each word they spell correctly, and become a “Spelling Master” when each word in the list has three stars.
- My Spell Test – (iPhone, Publisher Ipoxi LLC, Price: $2.99) – This is the first spelling app I ever used with my children. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but is very easy to use. Children complete the test and then are shown the words they misspelled (with both their spelling and the correct spelling) and then are retested on their errors. It is simple, but very effective. Read my review here.
- Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop HD – (iPad only, Publisher: Marcel Widarto/Sogabee, Price: $2.99) – This is now the universal favourite in our house. As you enter words in the list, it automatically checks to see if it already has a recording or that word, which can save a lot of time. There are three activities you can do with the spelling list, and there is a reward token system that my children find very motivating. Read my review here.
Painting and Drawing
Painting and drawing apps are great for giving children the opportunity to write using different tools, colours and effects. I reviewed several last year in this post. There are download links for each of these apps in the post. Essentially, any app with some basic drawing tools will work, although tend to use Doodle Buddy, and Art Set as these have some great painting tools and effects. Write the words using the different tools, effects and colours, and then save screen shots of each word to the photo library on your device. Try painting a word and then tracing over it with a different colour/tool each time as a great pre-test activity.
School Writing (iPad) or School Fonts (iPhone) are great apps for getting some sneaky extra work out of your child, get them to help you create an activity using their spelling lists, and then get them to practice their spelling at the same time they practice their handwriting. If you get them to create the activity, then typing the words into the list provides yet another practice opportunity. Read my review of School Writing here, and my review of School Fonts here. School Fonts now has a free version to let you evaluate the app. I recommend downloading it if you are interested in either app. Among their many supportive features, these apps contain both beginner and cursive writing styles for all Australian States and Territories, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Another activity our teachers suggest is typing the words on a computer and then printing them. I prefer to do this on our desktop computer where we have some novelty fonts and it is faster to print. You can do the same activity iPad and take a screen shot or send the file to the computer to print. There are not a lot of novelty fonts available for the iPad word processing apps, but Marker Felt, Party LET, Zapfino and Chalkduster are a change from the usual more formal fonts. You can also have fun with colours. After you print the list, chop it up and have the child sort the words in alphabetical order.
I have two word processing apps on my iPad:
- Pages – (Universal, Publisher: Apple Pty Ltd, Price $10.49) – This was my first app purchase. It has most of the formatting tools you need to create documents on the go, and I sync documents with my iMac via iCloud. It is also easy to send documents via email, DropBox or connecting through iTunes.
- Textilus: (iPad only, Publisher: Kairoos Solutions S.L., Price $5.49) I found this app last year and I’m starting to use it more and more. Unlike Pages, most of the formatting tools are available from its keyboard.
If you don’t have either of these, any app that lets you input text can be used, including the NotePad app.
There will be other ways you can use your iOS devices to help your child with spelling, and I’d love to hear them. If you have any tips and tricks, please leave a comment below. You can also join in the conversation in my Facebook Group.
- 10 Spelling Bee Apps for Ipad That Help Your Children (whatyoutinkdaddy.com)
- Personalized Learning: Spelling (iteachwithipads.net)