Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 -- English

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 -- English App Poster Image
Well-planned lessons will challenge, encourage learners.

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

Ease of Play

Very easy to play. Voice commands (that may even be a little too slow) are extremely clear and given in a calm voice, and onscreen arrows and color prompts let players know what to do step-by-step, tell players what the choices are, and explain the system. It may take a few words for kids to get the hang of how to move the letters just so into the little boxes to spell the words in the lesson. Kids who make mistakes can easily correct them by moving the letter. There's also a "hint" button.

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Sexy Stuff

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). An envelope tab ("mail button") at the top of the screen gives you the options to email the developer, rate the app, link to Facebook, view other PyxWise apps, go the app's FAQ page, and read the privacy policy. But you can make the mail button invisible.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 - English provides 42 lists of spelling words, grouped by patterns, sounds, and difficulty levels. The quizzes are encouraging and challenging, and the voice commands are clear and calm. There are good customization options here, including switching between capital and lowercase letters, as well as the option for either alphabetic and QWERTY keyboard layouts. You can't create your own spelling lists here; there are other good apps for that. This app is for people who want a well-planned spelling curriculum that combines high-use words, basic old-fashioned phonics with clear instructions, and easy use.

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What's it about?

Kids choose a spelling list to begin their test. The correct number of red boxes for the letters in the first word appear, then a voice speaks the word and says it in a sentence (homonyms may confuse the speller without context). Tap or drag and drop the correct letter, and the box turns green. If kids choose an incorrect letter, the box stays red. Press "hint" to make other letters pop up and get more verbal clues. Kids can't spell a new word until the current one is correct. Success messages pop up when a kid gets a word right.

Is it any good?

SIMPLEX SPELLING PHONICS will help kids on their quest to become better spellers and readers. The lists are both organized by letter or sound and equally as challenging as they are learning-level appropriate. Not just standard, common words are used. The list for the short "o" sound, for example, uses the word "icon," thereby stretching the student's vocabulary as well. Sometimes, the phonics explanations in the "hints" section that the narrator-teacher offers students may be too long for some younger kids to listen to all the way through. Some of the words that the app uses to praise kids when they get words right are big (such as "Impressive!") and just show up on the screen without being spoken, so younger kids may have no idea what the app has just said after they get the word right. Other times, the praise is offered verbally ("You did a good job working through that list.").

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love working with words

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