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Sunday, June 2, 2013

5 Free Services for Helping Students Learn to Spell

Yesterday, I shared a TED-Ed lesson called Making Sense of Spelling. As a follow-up to that post here are some resources that your students can use to develop and practice their spelling skills.

Sproutster is a free iPad game that has a concept similar to the one behind Free Rice. The difference between the two games is that Sproutster wants you to spell words and Free Rice wants you to guess the definition of words. Sproutster asks you to spell three to five letter words by catching letters in a bucket as the letters rain down on you. You don't need to catch all of the letters. You just need to catch letters in sequence to spell any word that you like (proper nouns don't count). When you have spelled a word dump it out to make a plant grow. When the plant has reached its full size you move on to the next level. For each plant that is grown Sproutster donates 30-50 grains of rice to the UN WFP.

Dictionary.com offers six registration-free and fun word games. The two games that I like best are Miss Spell's Class and Word Kingdom. In Miss Spell's Class students are presented with twenty commonly misspelled words and quickly decide if the spelling they're looking at is correct or incorrect. Word Kingdom could be described as Zelda meets word search. In Word Kingdom players have to construct words in order to earn objects like wood and gold. Once enough objects are earned players can move on to the next level until they have built their Word Kingdoms.

Vocabulary Spelling City offers a database of more than 42,000 spelling words and sentences. The words and sentences can be customized for your students. This means that Vocabulary Spelling City supports US and UK spellings of words like "favorite" and "favourite," "color" and "colour." Teachers can use Vocabulary Spelling City to create custom lists of words for their students to practice spelling and to study the definitions of those words. To help students learn the proper pronunciation of the words on their practice lists Vocabulary Spelling City provides clear, spoken recordings of every word. Students can play games, study words, and quiz themselves on the spellings of the words on their lists. Vocabulary Spelling City allows teachers to print activities for use in their classrooms when their students don't have access to computers.

Spell + Friends is a free iPad app that provides students with word lists to practice in a virtual spelling bee manner. There are three modes in Spell + Friends. Learn mode is for creating word lists to study. Practice mode reads words to students that they then have to spell correctly in the app. Compete mode allows students to compete head-to-head against other users of the app. In the Learn mode students select new words to learn. There are more than 2,000 words in the word bank. The words are divided into three categories based on how frequently they are used.

Building Language for Literacy offers three nice little language activities from Scholastic. The activities are designed for pre-K and Kindergarten students. The spelling activity is called  Leo Loves to Spell. Leo Loves to Spell asks students to help a lobster named Leo identify the first letter of a series of spelling words arranged in a dozen categories.

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