“ Developer: Key Stage Fun „
Every parent of primary school children will know what a chore the weekly spelling test can be. It's sometimes not easy to persuade children to sit down and look/cover/spell the old fashioned way, so this app which allows you, the parent, to make learning a list of words fun is a great addition to our collection. It costs £1.49 on iPad and iPhone (not currently available on android, but other apps for KS2 from this developer are), and has definitely increased enthusiasm at learning spellings in the time that we have been using it - the 6 year old has a 100% correct score this term, thanks in part to this app.
Squeebles words features brightly coloured characters - the squeebles, as pictured above, who you unlock by performing well in the tests and a hissing snake who challenges the child to remember the spellings. The graphics are simple but engaging and appeal to children without being over-babyish.
The first thing to say is that this app comes without any installed words - initially I was a bit disappointed by this in all honesty, however the value of the app is the fact that you can go into the parents' zone and enter the spellings you want yourself and record you, or your child saying them. The menu is very intuitive and easy to use, which is a definite plus point. You can add as many players as you want and change the difficulty level so that when they do a test they see the word for 2 seconds, 5 seconds, as long as they want or not at all before being asked to type it - you can also change the keyboard to upper or lower case and the language to UK or US English. It is a little tedious entering the spellings, but once they are inputted each player can access their current or past test or do random words or "tricky" words - ie one that they got wrong before. Having all the spellings in one place also saves me having to keep the scraps of paper that come from home.
Both my children, aged 6 and 8, find the app interesting and motivational. It's nice that when they go into their spelling test it's a familiar voice that they hear asking a spelling - you can put as many as you want on each test. We tend to record in silly voices or add little comments. If the background noise is too high when you record it's easy enough to edit the test, (you can edit the spelling too should you make a mistake when creating a test) and parents can keep a track of how many spellings their child is getting right as well. The child has to enter the results via an onscreen keyboard - which is querty but in bright and appealing colours. Both my children picked up how to use the app straight away - testament to its good design. I like the fact that when in play there's no needless sound effects other than a word being read and a tone if you get the question right, this is refreshing as I've found many apps to be plagued by background music and I think it's best to learn something like spellings in the same conditions in which you will have to recall them, ie quiet. Each time you get a spelling right you earn stars, and the ability to unlock "squeeberangs" - boomerangs which can be played with by the squeebles in a mini game as a reward as you build up points. On the surface the mini game looks pretty uninspiring, but my kids seem to like building up their throws and trying to get the squeeberang as far as they can in the mini game, and they never mind being asked to learn their spellings if this app is involved, we have been using it, in conjunction with more traditional ways of learning the words, with great success for 7 weeks now.
This app succeeds in what it is designed to do - make learning child specific spelling lists less arduous, and seems to be enjoyed by every child that I know has used it, we have recommended it to a few friends. I've had a few slight bug issues with it - one test seems missing in play, and it's fallen over once, but mainly this software runs well. It would be nice if there were a few pre-loaded spellings, but actually being able to add your own content far outweighs the lack of these. Also it's brilliant to have an app that is refreshingly free of in-app purchases or ads. I think that there are many apps that claim to be educational and actually fail to be anything but - not so squeebles words which is genuinely a learning enhancement tool and as such highly recommended by me.
For more info: http://www.keystagefun.co.uk/squeebles-spelling.html