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Simplex Spelling HD - Dolch Sight Words With Reverse Phonics

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Simplex Spelling HD - Dolch Sight Words With Reverse Phonics App Poster Image
Encouraging quizzes help kids master high-frequency words.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to spell high-frequency words, aided by clues. They can also learn common patterns as well as words that don't follow those patterns. Useful voice commands and color clues as well as clearly explained spelling rules pop up to give kids hints. This tool supports multiple users, and parents can change the settings to adapt spellings to British, American, or Canadian English. However, kids can't create their own lists. While Simplex Spelling HD - Dolch Sight Words With Reverse Phonics offers kids a tool to practice spelling and learn word patterns, it isn't the most fun or engaging spelling app out there, so kids may need extra encouragement to use it.

Ease of Play

Very easy to play. Voice commands and onscreen arrows and prompts let players know what to do step-by-step, tell players what the choices are, and explain the system. There are lots of setting options, too: Players can change spelling options (American English vs. Canadian English), keyboard (alphabet vs. QWERTY), volume, success messages, and letter case.

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An information tab at the bottom of the main screen links to a screen that contains the name of the developer and its website address (but no direct link to other apps).

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Simplex Spelling HD - Dolch Sight Words With Reverse Phonics helps kids learn 240 commonly spelled English words in lists of 10, and it gets progressively more difficult as kids move through the list. At $4.99, it costs more than the average spelling app, but it does have some particularly helpful features. The hint buttons show all the different letter combinations that can make a sound ("f" or "ph" at the beginning of the word "fish"). The hints let kids know by a color code which choice is correct. As a result, kids are clued into spelling rules and common letter combinations. Encouraging "success messages" pop up when a player gets a word right. Kids aren't allowed to move on to a new word until they get the one they're on right, with the help of the hints if needed. Unfortunately, unlike some lower-priced spelling apps, kids can't insert their own spelling lists to practice on this app.

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Is it any good?

Kids who use SIMPLEX SPELLING HD - DOLCH SIGHT WORDS WITH REVERSE PHONICS will learn how to spell the words on the given lists and also learn common patterns in spelling, which will help them spell words that aren't included on the app's imbedded lists. The voice commands are clear and helpful, as are the color clues and clearly laid out spelling rules that pop up when players choose to get a hint on the words they misspell. This app supports multiple users, so it's easy to keep track of progress for each student and probably more worthy of the higher-than-average spelling app price of $4.99 if you're purchasing it for multiple students. That said, for that price, it would also be nice to be able to create your own lists on this app in order to practice for school spelling tests containing different words. Still, this is without a doubt a top-notch tool to teach spelling to elementary school-age kids and ESL students.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Visit a site such as Oxford Dictionaries that identifies the words that are spelled differently in British, Canadian, and American English and explains why.

  • This app isn't the most exciting or "sticky"; if parents want their kids to complete all lists, they may need to give kids extra encouragement.

App details

For kids who love working with words

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