Ages ago I was approached by Australian company Reading Eggs to review a new app called Spelling Eggs. I usually say no to things like that because they're often completely irrelevant both to me and my blog and/or mildly insulting when they don't get my name right or want me to jump through hoops and follow lots of rules. BUT. We buy quite a lot of apps in this house, and a goodly number of them are educational ones for Hazel. We usually get maths-oriented ones because she's a bit weaker in that area than reading and writing, so I was interested to see what she'd think of a spelling one. I also liked that it was Aussie so we wouldn't have to explain to her why Americans spell things differently and why she needs to put a 'u' in words and no you spelled that quite correctly sweetie, don't worry that it's saying you didn't (curse you Microsoft and your constant attempts to revert to American spelling!) and what lb and oz are and no I have no idea how many ozzes are in a lib and a quarter is twenty-five cents. I'm not sure how Australian grades and curriculum compare to ours, but I suspect they are essentially the same so it's easy to pick the correct grade/year to buy. We went for Grade 3 since she's in Year 3 here and it seems to fit well.
Since she's the target audience I thought I'd let her do the talking first. She kept it short and sweet and said "It's got reading and writing. I really like it because I like all the games. I like Quiz Master the best". "Sometimes I get it wrong and it shows me the right answer and then I remember how to spell it afterwards". She does honestly seem quite keen on it, although she doesn't spend as much time on the iPad as she used to - must get back in the habit of getting her to work on the apps as they have made quite a difference in her math in the past. The variety of games in the app is a good feature as she has become bored with other apps after she's collected X number of whatevers to do whatever you can do in the one game it offers.
Like most apps the learning process is gameified and it does encourage the kids to persist and spend time working through the material. Hazel really responds to it and I bet I would have too when I was a kid - if such things had been available! Flash cards were as high-tec as it got back then though. Generally she just gets on with it with no input from me at all, although I've had to help her a bit with the quizzes as some of the questions are outside her experience. I'm not sure if that's because it's aimed a bit higher than she can cope with or if it is a different curriculum issue. Either way I don't mind helping with answers as it's the spelling that matters. When I asked her how she found it difficulty wise and how it compared to what she's doing in class she said it was a bit on the easy side in terms of the actual spelling. However, that probably reflects the fact she's in the top group for spelling in her class and it would be about right for an average 8 year old in Year/Grade 3.
Reading Eggs clearly targets their range of educational apps at the 3+ age range and Spelling Eggs is their only app to cover kids older than 7. That's a shame because based on our experience they do a good job - I hope they come out with math for older kids in the near future!