SpellNow Year 1
An interactive app that supports children in learning to spell.
This is a well thought out app that targets all the necessary skills needed to help children in learning how to spell. Using the foundation of phonics and through a number of interactive and repetitive games the app works through 4 terms of 10 weeks with an ever increasing difficulty factor build in. Utilising gamification and the use of levels there is a definite competitive edge to the app that helps to keep children engaged in wanting to work through each of the levels to unlock the next, harder group of levels.
On opening the app you are welcomed to a user screen with graphics that immediately make you want to play the app. This style is carried on throughout and certainly goes a long way to making sure the user wants to stick with the app. The sound is also inoffensive and works well as background music to accompany the app and there are also relevant sound effects throughout the app that again go a way towards enhancing the learning experience of the user. The accent that is used within the app has an Australian twang, however I didn’t find this to be distracting from the app and the way words were read out were clear and spoken in a dialect the majority of UK children (barring regional accents) could understand.
On the homescreen there are a couple of options for the user. One of these is the settings menu located in the bottom right hand corner of the page. In this the user can adjust the music that plays in the background. They have the option of choosing from 6 different music types or to select having no music. This is the only option on the screen although I can’t think of what else one might require to change.
The other option on the homepage is a link to the developer’s website. The developer’s website supports the app well. Giving further information about the benefits of the app and how it can be used as well as the importance of gamification in a learning environment, especially one that utilises technology. There are also good links from the website to share information via social media and a contact button should a user require contacting the developer.
There are no instructions within the app of how to use it and make the most out of the features however, I would suggest that as it is so simple to use it does not require a user guide. Although, some users may find a little further information about how to use the app to the best of its ability beneficial in making the most out of their purchase.
By splitting the main content of the app into 4 terms of 10 weeks allows the user the access and use the app in a multitude of ways. They may decide to follow the guided timeline of working through the games on a weekly basis, or they may decide to ignore this organisation and just work their way through the app at their own pace and leisure. In putting the suggested timeline there it makes the user think about going over information and games at each stage, thus helping them to reinforce the learning that they have accessed each week. This certainly goes someway to making sure the learning in the app has the most amount of benefit to the user. Due to this addition the app would also work well in both and education and home setting for teachers and parents to use with their pupils, children.
Once you have clicked onto a term, accessible from the main homepage, you are then taken to the individual lessons. There are 10 lessons, 1 per week, and the first one is unlocked in each of the terms. The user can unlock a new lesson by completing the games of the previous lesson. There is a scoring system that awards medals for the success in each of the games and there are 6 games in total within each lesson. All the games are the same in each of the lessons, however this doesn’t detract from the app it in fact enhances the learning as it is the content that changes depending on the lesson rather than the games. In having the same games replayed over with different content this helps the user know what is expected of them and how they can go about completing it successfully. On each of the lessons there is a little explanation as to what they are going to encounter. These cover a broad range of skills from short vowels, CVC words, rhyming words, end word patterns and beginning word patterns. All the skills needed to become a successful speller are utilised throughout the app. The user also has the option of replaying any of the games that they didn’t get full marks in, this competitive element also adds to the success and longevity of the app in making users want to get a gold medal in each of the games.
The games themselves are well considered and aim at using repetition as well as introducing the learning in different ways to make sure that the learning experience of the user is as enhanced as possible. The games include: a word jumble, word matching, word building, repeating hidden words and word recall. There is also a differentiated amount of support within each game to make sure the users can access the learning and have extra support available should they need it. These include having words repeated or having a sentence read out so the word can be seen in the correct context.
If there was one thing that I would suggest as an improvement to the app it would be a way of looking at the progress of the user on a separate page. Although this can be seen by clicking on each of the terms individually a summary page would be ideal. However, as this app is currently free this would be an ‘even better if’ wish rather than a necessary amendment.
Overall, this is a great app that can used in the classroom or at home to help young people learn all the key skills in becoming a successful speller.
From the Developer
SpellNow Year 1 gets 5 Star Reviews
Educational App Store - 5 star EAS recommended. "This is a well thought out app that targets all the necessary skills needed to help children in learning how to spell."
SpellNow Year 1 will transform the way students develop their spelling skills. The student will be transported to a colourful, creative and educationally relevant environment that they will love! Best of all, SpellNow Year 1 is designed to boost student achievement and confidence levels.
Written by experienced teachers, SpellNow Year 1 is aligned to the curriculum and provides students with the essential building blocks of spelling. Targeting students in the emergent and transitional stages of spelling, SpellNow Year 1 helps students make the spelling-meaning connection that is necessary to become a good speller. This dynamic app covers a broad range of skills from consonant-vowel-consonant and rhyming words (e.g. cat, bat, rat, hat) to word ending patterns (-ng, -nt, -nd, -nk, -mp) and beginning patterns (sn-, sc-, sw-).
SpellNow Year 1 is organised into four, ten-week terms so that students can work on their spelling all year around. Each spelling list is organised according to letter-sound patterns and word family groupings so they can make sense of spelling. These words range from frequently used words with simple spelling patterns to less frequently used words with difficult spelling patterns.
Six interactive spelling games cater to different learning styles - visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. Each spelling game stimulates students’ sensory skills by transporting them to a fun and vibrant environment where they interact with quirky characters. SpellNow Year 1 is a totally interactive learning experience that is fun and rewarding. Begin your journey to spelling mastery NOW!