* Spelling City

Spelling City may have started off as a township, but it’s quite a metropolis now.   When I first started using this site years ago, it offered lists, assessments, and games for spelling and language arts.   It has been updated to include vocabulary and writing. The site is still located under its original name but has expanded its official title to Vocabulary Spelling City.  To access a greater variety of activities and lessons, as well as the newer writing and vocabulary sections, you must purchase the premium membership (instead of free), which is quite worth the reasonable price.  One of Spelling City’s earliest and most popular games was Hang Mouse and you’ll see that cat and mouse now featured in a number of games.

Spelling City

How it works:  Spelling City offers practice and assessments in writing, spelling, reading, and vocabulary, including access to thirty games.   Teachers and parents may sign up for free, publish their lists, and link spelling and vocabulary activities for students to use.  Kids may also access published lists for free by searching for their teacher or a specific list.  The number of word lists available now is enormous, ranging from geography and math to Latin and state capitals.  There are numerous video lessons for students, enrichment activities, and lesson plans for teachers.  Word lists are correlated to state standards.  Spelling City has a mobile app and is linked to its sister site in the UK.  My descriptions below refer to premium membership benefits, although there’s a lot to be had for free.

What kids do:  Students log in with their user ID and password.  Their assignments will be posted at the top of the page, showing how many activities are needed to complete that assignment.  Depending upon how the teacher has set up the tasks, kids may pick and choose from the activities or follow a prescribed order.  They play both timed and untimed games, may save their scores, and even compare scores to other students in their class.  They are praised after successful responses and applauded by members of Spelling City (a lively group) for completion of an activity.  Students receive immediate feedback for both practice and “real” spelling/ vocabulary tests.   One premium game with the “ew” factor is called Splat-N-Spell!  A short animation precedes the game itself, in which the populace of Spelling City is upset about a roach invasion (who wouldn’t be?).  A Spelling City officer encourages the students to rid the city of those pests (and demonstrates by squishing a roach under his foot, with green “juice” oozing out).  Another popular game is Aim-2-Spell, a point and shoot game with marbles.  A favorite vocabulary game, Word-O-Rama, spoofs a TV game show.  It’s hosted by a suave penguin; the audience cheers and provides encouragement to the contestant as the points build up.  Students may practice their skills in writing by using words in sentences and paragraphs, completing cloze sentences, and creating simple “word videos” for practice.

What teachers get:  First, teachers set up groups/classes and assign students to them.  You can use the Spelling City generated user names and passwords (all pretty simple) or create your own.  Apart from the ready-made lists, which are also linked to some popular children’s trade books, teachers can create their own lists for virtually any subject.  As you create the lists, the program offers a choice of definitions and a key sentence for that word.  You may change either or both the definition and sentence, according to your students’ needs.  Lists can be unpublished so that they are only visible to the assigned students.  After lists are created, you assign them to groups or individual students.  You choose the number and sequence of activities.  I always begin with practice activities, such as Teach Me or Flashcards.  There’s a practice assessment available as well.  I always conclude assignments with an actual assessment of that skill.  Teachers may check on student progress for both accuracy rates and the number of activities completed per assignment.  In the teacher resources area, there are available videos for students to watch (such as rules for dividing words into syllables), enrichment activities, and numerous links to other sites.  There’s a complete section of printables, including one for almost every game so that a group or class could play the games offline (but who would supply the roaches and gore?).  There are customizable certificates and handwriting pages, as well.

Pros:

  1.  Spelling City’s customizable features are top-notch.  You can customize lists, assignments, order of activities, and due dates.
  2. There’s no limit to the number of lists you may create. They can be easily grouped in categories and edited.
  3. You can create review lists based upon student accuracy rates to provide additional practice with vocabulary, phonics rules, etc.
  4. You can quickly check on student progress.
  5. This site can be used across multiple subject areas.
  6. There are optional 1 minute videos for teachers in each section (lists, assignments, students, etc.) to give you a quick overview for using that feature.  There are also helpful FAQ sections.
  7. The audio features are excellent.  Real voices are used so students can clearly understand the directions and words.
  8. The student activities are truly engaging.  Once you know a student’s favorites, it’s easy to include those in their assignments.
  9. The variety and quality of games is amazing.  Students are rarely bored with this site.  (You may find yourself playing for fun.)
  10. For regular education classes, you do not need to reinvent the spelling wheel; the vast number of available lists should suffice.
  11. Games can be played in full screen mode at the click of a button.
  12. The teacher resources area is a real time-saver, full of excellent tips, links, and printables.
  13. The site has links to a couple of donor organizations if you want to solicit funds for classroom purchase.  There are also recommendations for fund-raisers.

Cons:

  1. Occasionally I will enter a sentence for which Spelling City has no sound files.  It’s rare, but instead of hearing the sentence, a nice lady tells you that the sound file is missing “and we’re working on it!”  Fix:  Consider using the Spelling City sentence or swap that word out.  Or wait for it to be fixed.
  2. Hmmm…. I can’t think of anything!
  3. Hmmm…. I can’t think of anything!

My rating:  5  out of 5 stars.