Simplex Spelling HD is one of the best spelling apps (maybe the best) in the app store at the moment. While this app is not a game, it is child-friendly and a great spelling app to teach kids in a non-game environment like school where cute characters and gaming techniques may be too distracting.
Simplex Spelling HD teaches the first 220 Dolch site words in a straight forward, but slightly complicated “reverse phonics” technique. However this app does a good job of explaining how to use the app with a hands on tutorial.
Words are separated into 26 separate spelling lists, so that each set can be mastered separately. The sets become progressively more difficult and cover words that need to be mastered by the end of 1st Grade (USA – 6/7 years). The app also supports multiple users which works well in a setting where different children are mastering the words at different levels.
One of the best things about this app is that each word is spoken, used in a sentence, then spoken again – which also helps put the word in context. While this isn’t a new technique, it is effective and has been used in and out of the classroom for years. It also means that each word and sentence in the app has been professionally recorded, which is a welcome departure from computer generated voices which often miss the mark with shorter words.
Simplex Spelling HD is also a universal app which means this one app is optimized to work on both iPhone/iPod and iPad. When tested on both iPhone and iPad it worked equally well. On the iPhone some text looked a little small and on the iPad the layout didn’t take full advantage of the iPad’s screen size. I am not sure if this is a trade off for the benefit of having one app, but if it is, it’s probably worth it.
220 Dolch Words
Reporting (mastered or attempted words)
Professionally recorded words and sentences
US or Canadian Spelling
The one thing that bothers me about the app – and I come from a design background, so might be more critical – is that I feel that the app could be more polished graphically. Better graphics and user interface would make the app easier to use and make it the 5 star app that I feel it could be.
Simplex Spelling HD is a must have spelling app for anyone needing to master the first 220 frequently used spelling words based on the Dolch spelling system.
Simplex Spelling takes a unique “reverse phonics” approach to spelling, whereby individual phonemes (the smallest units of sound) are converted into different letter combinations (phonograms) for each sound. The Simplex Spelling hint buttons provide letter combinations as helpful hints so that each word can be pieced together from its smallest or simplex sounds.
The “reverse phonics” approach is then combined with contextually relevant spelling rules, to create a powerful teaching method that teaches kids “how to spell” English words.
Simplex Spelling’s main focus is on the education of children. While Simplex Spelling is not a game, it is still fun and easy to use. Even students who have previously disliked spelling begin to enjoy it as they piece each word together like it is a puzzle.