Developer: pierre abel
Price: $4.99 Download on the App Store
With school back in session, the power of Apple’s touch devices as an educational tool is certainly timely. Parents and teachers looking for apps that assist in learning may want to take note of a new app by L’Escapadou called Word Wizard. Word Wizard is a talking, moveable alphabet app that focuses on letters, phonics and spelling. Hailed as a modern day Speak & Spell, Word Wizard pretty much does all that the ancient Texas Instrument toy did and more, making it an ideal tool for technology-based classrooms.
Word Wizard features a voice translator that announces letters, letter sounds, and words. It can be used in two modes - Moveable Alphabet and Spelling Quiz. Moveable Alphabet mode provides a tray of letters, which can be dragged to the upper screen to create words or even simple sentences. Depending on its use, this mode can help children with letter recognition, word formation, and simple reading skills. Spelling Quiz provides a means to practice spelling of specific words, which can be selected from pre-built lists of Dolch (sight) words, grade-level words, or custom lists created by teachers or parents.
Word Wizard provides flexibility in its use and the various settings options increase this flexibility. For instance, the tone and speed of the voice translator can be adjusted as well as when and how letter announcements are made. The phonics option can be turned on or off accordingly depending on whether letter recognition or phonetics is the goal, which ultimately provides usefulness for broader age ranges. The appearance of the background can be switched between two options and users can choose to display letter tiles as capital or lower case.
The overall design is tastefully done making it pleasant and kid-friendly, without underscoring the learning value. For example, children are rewarded with sound and animation for each correctly spelled word in Spelling Quiz mode, but incorrectly spelled words are unresponsive, allowing time for self-correction. By no means a replacement for the repetitive writing of words, Word Wizard’s Spelling Quiz makes a good ancillary tool for spelling practice and is likely more appealing to today’s generation of young learners.
Word Wizard – Talking Moveable Alphabet with Spell Checker and Fun Spelling Tests is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Because it does leave room for flexibility of use, it is a suitable app for all primary grades. It does require a bit of dexterity, as the letters must be placed either in consecutive grid squares or freely aligned next to one another depending on the selected settings, though this practice may also subconsciously address spatial recognition as well as word building.
For parents and teachers looking for educational apps to kick off the new school year, Word Wizard is a worthy investment towards improving language arts learning and may help even the most resistant kids ace their spelling tests.