The apps are based on a system of “reverse phonics” and are designed to teach the fundamentals of spelling in English. The apps have the option of using American, Canadian or British spelling. You also have the option to choose between upper and lowercase letters and you can use the keypad in ABC format or QWERTY. On the keyboard vowels (including y) are in white and consonants in red.
Once you have created an account the app takes you to a novel introductory section. This explains how the app works, and lets you practice using it by spelling words used in the introduction e.g. hi, can, hint, drag and help.
In Simplex Spelling HD Dolch Sight Words there are over 260 sight words including all of the words from the Dolch word lists. You can work your way through them in order (getting progressively more difficult), or choose individual word lists to work from.
Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 features over 450 high frequency spelling words to help build literacy. These are presented in word lists based on a particular phonics sound e.g. short a (a) or long I (i-e-). It provides 42 instructional lessons in phonics and spelling rules. Each lesson builds upon the skills learned in previous lessons.
When working on spelling a word, the word is spoken individually, then said in a sentence, this helps to differentiate words that sound the same e.g. too and two. Blank red tiles appear for each letter in the word, you can tap on the letters to insert them, or click and drag. If you choose the right letter the tile turns green, if you put a letter in the wrong position it will turn blue, and a letter that isn’t in the word at all stays red. If you touch the hint button blue tiles with a white star appear under each tile space. If a word breaks the usual spelling rules the hint buttons have a red background instead of blue. Tapping on the star will reveal a list of letter combinations that can make that sound e.g. for spelling “keep” for the “k”- “c” and “k” will appear, for the “ee” the options are “e”, “y”,”ea”, “ee”, “ei”, “ey” and “ie”. If the letter combinations are the right length for your word they appear in blue, if the wrong length they are in grey – so in the last example “e” and “y” are in grey the rest in blue. The words are divided into lists of 10 and after each ten it will tell you how many words you have mastered i.e. completed without any mistakes and without using the hint button.
You can click on the graph icon to see which words you have mastered, and how many times you have attempted a word. Once you have completed a lesson you can choose to do the whole lesson again, or just work on the words from that list that you haven’t mastered. There is also a help menu to remind you what the different symbols and different colored tiles mean. Touching the teacher icon in the Phonics version will replay the lesson. You can view the word lists from within the app – if you press the graph icon and choose practice, you can then tap on the word lists to see the words they contain. I did find the word lists a little tricky to find, so having them more obvious spot would be a useful update.
These apps do not have the option of entering your own word lists, if you are looking for an app that does that, I would recommend Word Wizard. However, where the Simplex Spelling apps excel is teaching your child how to spell. I really like how individualized the hint system is – you can choose to have no hint, or just hints for individual sounds, and instead of just telling them the letter that is missing, it teaches them what could make that sound. I also like that if the child gets the right letters but in the wrong order, the blue colored tiles let them know that, instead of just labeling it as wrong.
Overall, I really like the Simplex Spelling apps and think they are the best on the market at teaching your child how to spell in English. I have a tried a lot of spelling apps, but the two series that I recommend every parent of grade school children should have are Simplex Spelling and Word Wizard.
Simplex Spelling Phonics 1
Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 - English
by Pyxwise Software Inc.
Price: $4.99 USD
Simplex Spelling improves English spelling and reading skills by using a powerful combination of phonics lessons, spelling/word patterns, our unique “reverse phonics” approach and contextually relevant.
Simplex Spelling Phonics 2 Syllables - Spell To Read
by Pyxwise Software Inc.
Price: $4.99 USD
- "Simplex Spelling has a feedback method that rivals anything a teacher can do in the classroom. " - Carolina Nugent, Director of Education KinderTown.