Reviewed by Grace
Sight Words and Spelling with Pixopop is an iPad only app for children to learn to read and spell over 200 sight words plus your own words through three learning modes – Flash Cards, Word Challenge and Spelling. This app has many great features and it’s strengths are the cute factor that makes it appealing to children, a motivating rewards system and the detailed performance reporting.
Regardless of what strategies you use to teach sight words, it inevitably involves a lot of repetitions and repetitions can be boring for both the child and the teaching adult. Here Sight Words and Spelling with Pixopop does well in making the process less boring with its playful packaging and fun sounds. For each of the activity modes, your child can choose to have Stitch Bunny or one of 2 other characters to accompany him on his learning journey. It also helps that the sight words are taught and tested in a manageable size of 10 words per list to match a young child’s short attention span.
For beginning readers, the best way to start with this app is to use the Flash Cards section with the Quiz mode off. The child is in control as he can tap to hear the word read aloud as many times as he wishes and when he decides to move on to the next word, he simply taps on the ‘Next’ button or swipe the screen to see the next word. Once a list of 10 words is completed, he can choose to repeat the same list or see the next list. When you are confident that your child has learnt the words in a list, you next activate the Quiz mode where you ask him to read the words and if he needs help, he can tap the flash cards to listen to the words. A recording and playback function to encourage the child to read aloud will be a great addition to have here.
There are altogether 24 default lists of sight words included in this app (each list has 10 words) but you are not limited to these default lists as you can create your own flash cards using your own lists of words and voice. You can use your custom lists for the Word Challenge and Spelling activities as well. Being able to record your own voice allows you to also record a short sentence to show how the word is used in context which facilitates your child’s comprehension of the word. It’s a pity that we can’t do the same for the default lists.
In this activity, the child hears a word and has to choose its written form from 4 choices. Get it right and you can hear a positive reinforcement immediately. After the first 3 levels (which are unlocked), the child has to correctly find the 10 words in the list (with up to 2 mistakes allowance) to unlock the next level/list of words. You can choose between the default Easy mode or the Hard mode where all the 4 word choices start with the same letter. However, in the absence of a picture illustration of the word or a sentence showing the usage of the word, it is impossible to distinguish between 2 word choices that sound alike (e.g. by/buy, it/eat, of/off, an/and, to/two). It would be necessary to tweak the app’s design to avoid these situations. I like it that words which a child gets wrong are automatically added to a Word Challenge Tricky Words list for further reinforcement using any of the 3 learning modes. The word is taken off this list when it is correctly picked the next time it is tested.
Here, the child is asked to spell a word by typing the word from a child-friendly alphabetic keyboard (with the vowels highlighted) or a qwerty keyboard (choose your preferred option in the Settings). When he is satisfied with what he has typed, he ‘submit’ his answer. Once he has spelled at least 8 words correctly, the next level of spelling list is unlocked. With the ability to create your own list of spelling words (with audio input), this app can continue to serve your child’s spelling practice for as long as he needs it.
However, for the younger child who is just beginning to learn spelling, the transition from the Word Challenge to the Spelling activity is a huge jump. There is no clue given should the child needs help e.g. how many letters are there in the word or word shape. Furthermore, he is not given another chance (like in Word Challenge) to attempt again if he gets the spelling wrong. Though words that are spelt wrongly are added to a Spelling Tricky Words list, I think it is more important to give the necessary support here to guarantee greater success. One very useful option to have is to hide all the irrelevant letters in the keyboard so that the child only uses the letters which form the word. Going forward, I hope this app will have multiple-users capability, ability to delete a custom list and perhaps a tracing/handwriting page for learning in the future.
A trophy is earned for each list of 10 words that is completed without any mistake, a black and white token for Word Challenge and a colored one for the Spelling mode. This proves to be very motivating for my son. He willingly re-do a test in order to earn a trophy and he loves looking at his collection of cute rewards. For this reason, I wish to see the access to the Trophy Room more prominently displayed on the home screen and away from the access to the Settings and Results pages.
The results of the last 11 sessions of the Word Challenge and Spelling tests are visible from the results page. Click on each entry and you can see more details – the total score and status (incomplete, pass or fail) of each test that was done. For the Word Challenge results, you can see the number of attempts made and the incorrect words picked before the correct word was chosen. From the results, I realized that my son’s auditory discrimination is weak when it comes to similar words with different ending sounds (e.g. why and white, pull and put, will and with) which was very helpful. Do note that the data is not saved in-app (saving you valuable storage) but you can take a screen shot of the results page and email it out for record-keeping.
Overall, this app does well to keep the child engaged and motivated to complete his reading and spelling tasks. For parents, you’ll like the motivating rewards system, detailed performance reporting and the ability to customize. With a few tweaks and some useful features added, this app may just become your child’s go-to app for reading and spelling sight words.
Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop HD
by Marcel Widarto
Category: Education, Games, Family, Educational
Requirements: Compatible with iPadMini, iPadMini4G, iPad 3G, iPad WiFi, iPadFourthGen4G, iPadFourthGen, iPadThirdGen4G, iPad 2 WiFI, iPadThirdGen, iPad 2 3G
Size: 18.67 MB
A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.
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