Friday, January 3, 2014

A Review: SpellingCity (Free version)

A Summary of SpellingCity

The free version of SpellingCity is a game-based way to learn spelling and vocabulary. There were more free activities a few years ago that have since been moved over to the premium side. 

It has a user-created database of 50,000 words. There is a mobile app which is free for the iPad. The Android app requires a mobile pass for $1.99 or premium membership to access user made lists. 

I have used SpellingCity for a number of years in a grade two classroom. I like the fact that it does not require a great deal of time to create weekly lists. If you use the same or similar lists each year, it is easy to reuse and modify your lists. You can use the definitions and sentences in the database or you can create your own. 

It also gives you a homepage of sorts that you can use to direct your students to your class lists. 


Suggested Grade Levels

SpellingCity advertises itself as a K-12 site. I would not recommend this for regular use in a kindergarten classroom. 

Curriculum Connections


Language arts is the most obvious use for SpellingCity. However, you could also use it to introduce or review vocabulary for subject areas like science and social studies.  


Suggested Uses

Centres

I like using SpellingCity as a centre. Once a week students have the opportunity to practice their spelling words with it. At the beginning of the year I teach a few whole class lessons on how to use SpellingCity and my expectations when they use it. 
  1. I instruct them to use the "teach me" tool first. This is where they click on the word and the word is said aloud, spelled aloud and then read in a sentence aloud. 
  2. Then they must do the "spelling test" tool. Again the word is read aloud and in a sentence for them. Once they have spelled all of the words, it tells them how many correct they have. 
  3. Finally, they get to "play a game" and they can select any of the six spelling activities (under free)

Flipped/Homework

If you are doing a "flipped" classroom, you may want to use SpellingCity as a way to provide your students with an opportunity to work on their spelling words at home. I provide a link off my class website that goes directly to my SpellingCity homepage

Differentiated Instruction

I like that it provides three ways to learn spelling:

  1. Auditory: hear the word and hear the word spelled out
  2. Visual: seeing the word
  3. Kinesthetic: they have to type the word

Also, if you have student working on different spelling lists, SpellingCity is a way that they could still do the same activities but be assigned/select different lists. 


Skills Needed Prior to Use

Mouse

Students will need to know how to use the mouse/trackpad on the device they are using. 


Keyboarding

For this to be effective, students should be able to navigate a keyboard relatively effectively. It is also a good way to help them develop their keyboarding skills. 


Area of Concern

Like any free site, ads are something to be aware of with SpellingCity. In general, I find that my students are not distracted by the ads when using SpellingCity. Often I have them using it on netbooks, so the smaller screen will only permit them to see the game/activity they are using.


Conclusion

I highly recommend SpellingCity as an easy and effective way to have students practice their spelling words at school/home. Students enjoy using it.