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Spelling City for Kids: We Road Tested it for Parents!

Many schools are now using Spelling City to help improve student outcomes – but did you know that parents can use it as well?

What is Spelling City?

Spelling City

Spelling City is a dynamic, user-friendly program that allows teachers, students and parents to have access to spelling words, analyse data and set achievable goals. It is generally used for children from mid-to-late primary through to mid-high school.

Spelling City allows teachers to upload targeted spelling lists for each child that will provide them with an opportunity to practice the necessary skills to improve. Your child’s class will operate at different levels that are determined via something called a USI (upper-level spelling inventory) that assesses what parts of words they have difficulties with.

Spelling City has a variety of great features designed to enhance learning and make spelling a fun challenge instead of a chore.

Spelling City tests

At its most basic level, Spelling City can be used for students to perform spelling tests. These will be uploaded by their teacher who will direct different students at each level to particular tests. Their data can be accessed and checked by their teacher who will then adjust lessons accordingly.

When doing tests in class, students will wear headphones as the words are read to them via computer. The accent is American so sometimes the pronouncer can be a little tricky to understand – a few tries should get it!

Many Australian teachers put in word lists to do with vocabulary required for subjects – your student may, for example, have a lot of scientific terms one fortnight followed by art words the next. Children’s writing improves as their confidence builds when they know how to write what they want to say – a BIG plus for any reluctant writers!

Spelling City games

Spelling City sight words

Anyone who has been around children for any amount of time knows that the best learning can happen when they are engaged in play. Spelling City has a broad variety of learning games that students can play when they are not taking the test. All have educational value (some more than others) and parents can use them as a ‘games break’ at home.

Some of the Spelling City games are…

  • Sound It Out! Learners click on ‘sound blocks’ in order to spell words correctly.
  • Test-N-Teach! Children hear the words they need to spell being used in sentences – this is also a great tool for learning grammar in context.
  • HangMouse! This game is similar to the old Hang-Man game. You have to solve and spell the word before the cat catches the mouse.
  • LetterFall! This is kind of like Tetris except it’s letters falling instead of coloured cubes. Students must click them in order of correct spelling.
  • Paragraph Writing! Students are presented with lists of spelling and vocabulary words and they practice writing organised paragraphs.
  • FlashCards! Old fashioned flashcard style learning can sometimes be very helpful with memorising trickier word patterns.

There are 38 games all up!

Are teachers really using Spelling City?

I’m a high school English teacher with over ten years’ experience and I can tell you right now, hand on heart, that Spelling City is streets ahead of anything similar that I’ve come across. I can upload lists very easily, track student progress, identify what kids are doing and when and I can use and adapt lists from teachers all over the world.

Teachers often set Spelling City for kids to do at home or sometimes schedule it for the start of the lesson as a smooth transition from break time to learning time. I have seen tangible improvements in spelling and writing confidence from using this program and would recommend it to anyone. The possibility for parents to get involved as well sets it apart from its competitors.

How do parents use Spelling City?

If your child is using Spelling City at school you can easily sync in with their learning content. You can find the parent resources at this link.

You’ll notice that reference here is made to having log ins. You can access free versions of Spelling City to test at home before paying to join. If your school is not yet using this program I would recommend having a look for yourself to see if your child could benefit. There is nothing stopping you from creating lists of your own so they can have the same experience as other children.

You can access reports of their learning progress and the program is accessible anywhere – it could easily be built into the reading and study time that your children already participate in at home.

You can easily download the Spelling City app for use on your tablet at home. A lot of schools also use Reading Eggs – we compared the two programs here.

You can find a comprehensive review of the Reading Eggs program here. 

Is Spelling City for my child?

Spelling City sight for schools parents teachers homeschool

One of my favourite things about this is its accessibility. Spelling City does not discriminate. You’ll find everyone is catered for from high schoolers getting ready for senior, down to kids needing help with sight words and phonics. It’s designed so that everyone can have fun while they’re learning – a definite thumbs up from any English teacher I’ve ever met!

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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