Spell with Pip – Oxford University Press

17 Jan

Most of the spelling apps I own have the same activity: a spelling test following the listen, write, check pattern. Spell with Pip  is a  different and is aimed at emergent spellers. Children fly Pip the Parrot around to collect the letters to spell each word. The target word is always visible at the top of the screen. On early levels, only the letters needed appear, but as children progress through levels, extra letters appear.  Note:  This review was originally published on The Appy Ladies website.  For details on how to win a copy of the app, see the note at the end of this post.  (Competition closes 27th Feb, 2014).

Pip looks for the correct letters.  At this level, there are no confusing extras.

Pip looks for the correct letters. At this level, there are no confusing extras

For each word, Pip appears, the letters appear at random positions on the screen, and then the letters start to move about the screen. Pip has to collect each letter in the correct order or she loses a feather. 3 misses and you are out. You need to spell a number of words correctly before the time runs out, with stars awarded depending on how quickly you complete the task. The maximum time allowed for each level is 60 seconds, and the number of words to be collected increases as you progress through the game. Collected words are added to My Dictionary. Words in the dictionary will appear with their definition and sometimes an illustration. A button allows children to hear the word, but unfortunately the definition is not spoken.

A few levels up, we encounter some extra letters.

A few levels up, we encounter some extra letters.

Strong points

  • I like how, in this game, children are practicing the spelling patterns. When my children were playing the game, most of the time they would read the target word aloud and then say each letter as they were looking for it. “Leader: l, e, a, d, e, r.” I believe this kind of exercise reinforces the spelling patterns and will help them to remember the words.
  • The graphics are lovely, with Pip flying around a variety of environments including the desert, city and arctic. They are not too “cute” to make them age-inappropriate for older children with special needs.
  • The sound effects and background music are not too distracting for my children, but they can be turned off.
  • Profiles can be set up for different users, making it very user-friendly for classrooms or families with more than one child using the app.

This is one spelling app that would be suitable for children with a hearing impairment as it is completely accessible without sound.  (Most spelling apps require the child to hear the word aloud before typing it.)


There are times when children can be penalised even though it really isn’t their fault, resulting in a lot of frustration.

  • When letters first appear for a word, sometimes they appear touching Pip. If it is the wrong letter, the child is automatically penalised. If it is the first letter of the word, the child does not always realise that this letter has already been “found,” resulting in another penalty for touching an incorrect letter. (This problem will be fixed in the next update)
  • It is also very easy to touch incorrect letters by mistake, particularly for long words where there are lots of letters moving about. It was a problem for me, so I can only imagine the issue those with physical coordination issues would have.

Note:  These issues are to be addressed with in the next update to Spell with Pip.

Wish list

  • I’d like an option to change the sensitivity when if comes to hitting incorrect letters, or at least be able to grant a few more lives to help level the playing field for the less-coordinated (I’m putting my hand up here!)
  • I’d also like to see the app changed so that each screen begins with Pip in a “neutral zone” where no letters appear.
  • It would be valuable for emergent readers to hear the definition of the words they have collected when using the Dictionary.

NOTE:   A little bird (Pip, maybe?) tells me that the next version of Spell with Pip will have some of these ideas added.  I can’t wait!!!


This is a great game for learning to spell common words, and the dictionary element gives added value. Although some children may find the ease of “losing lives” frustrating, many will enjoy the challenge. It is great to see a spelling game with something different to offer.

If you would like to win a copy of Spell with Pip, enter the free competition on The Appy Ladies website.  It finishes on 27th February, 2014.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
iTunes Store: Spell with Pip: An Oxford Spelling Game
Cost: $4.99
iPad only

%d bloggers like this: