Rocket Speller by Little Big Thinkers is an almost perfect app, striking just the right balance between fun and learning. It is targeted for children aged 3-7 but older children will enjoy it too.
Four levels of difficulty promote independence and skill development. There is a directions page which can be opened by pressing the “i” button on the opening screen but the interface is quite intuitive. Once you select the level and press the orange play button a cute little alien flies across the starry sky in a space ship and tells us a word. Kids create the word by dragging letters onto circles.
Levels 1 and 2 are frustration free because even the youngest kids can play with letter hints, where the word is spelled out already and they only need to match the letters. Each letter is spoken as it is touched and once the word is finished it is spelled aloud. You can select upper or lower case letters and the repetition works well for children just learning the alphabet.
What makes Rocket Spelling so enjoyable is the brilliant reward system. Little Big Thinkers realize that kids need more than a verbal “Good job” to keep them coming back for more. After each word is spelled correctly, a star lights up at the bottom of the screen. After 3 stars, the alien spaceship zooms down to a planet and kids choose the first part for their custom rocket ship. The process is repeated after 6 and 9 correct words.
When 12 words are completed, kids watch as their rocket is constructed and the little alien gets on board. They press a big red button, a voice performs the count down and large numbers appear on the screen.
My Kindergarten students are so thrilled with this event that they call to each other across the classroom: “Come and watch my blast off!” Everyone rushes over to watch, shouting, “5,4,3,2,1″ as the rocket takes off into the sky. Children get to “catch” stars by moving the rocket ship from side to side. The blast off takes less than 30 seconds but is so exciting that children will continue to play through many cycles, learning letter identification, phonics and vocabulary skills along the way. The app has over 130 words which are presented in random order, so every game is different.
According to the developers, who are very responsive to feedback, the top 3 requests they have received are for more words, a phonics option and the ability to customize words. There are plans in the works for extension packs with additional words and to allow kids to hear the letter sounds as well as letter names, two items that are high on my wish list.
If you are looking for an app that will help your children learn their ABCs and improve their spelling, and that is as entertaining as it is educational, try Rocket Speller. Oh, and by the way, it is completely free, with no ads or in-app purchases.