Available in the App Store

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Parents of kindergarten age children quickly learn what Dolch or sight words are and how these words play an important role in learning to read. Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop is an iPad only app that offers three different methods for covering 240 of the most commonly used sight words; plus, provides the ability to add custom lists.

Stitch the Bunny, and friends, make this educational app an inviting environment for kids. They are used in different ways throughout the app and your child can change characters for any of the activities.

Three different activities offer the ability to learn the word lists in stages. The three activities, Flash Cards, Word Challenge and Spelling, incorporate the learning stages of seeing a word, hearing it for the first time, recognizing the word when presented with multiple choices and spelling the word correctly when hearing it spoken.

In the Flash Cards activity the child sees the word, then depending on Quiz Mode may or may not hear the word initially. When Quiz Mode is set to ON, the child will need to touch the word before hearing it. With Quiz Mode set to OFF, the word is spoken without the child having to touch it first. In both Quiz Modes the word can be touched as many times as desired. Unfortunately, only the word is spoken, it is not used in a sentence. Using the word in a sentence is desirable for many reasons; one being, it helps children associate the word to its meaning; especially for words such as won, one, red, read, hear, here and so on.

Word Challenge is a multiple choice activity. Four words appear on the screen, the child needs to choose the correct one for the word spoken. Again, hearing the word in a sentence is very important here. One list had the words “to” and “two” as choices and when just the word is spoken the child may not know which one they should choose. Each time a correct answer is received a new body part is added to the character. After three incorrect answers the game ends and the list is considered incomplete. Words missed are added to the Word Challenge Tricky Words List and stay there until the child completes them correctly in the future.

The Spelling activity has the child spelling the word that was spoken by typing it on a keypad that is provided. The keypad is in alphabetic order, not QWERTY. The word should be used in a sentence in this activity also. Words missed are added to the Spelling Tricky Words List and stay there until the child completes them correctly in the future.

The fact that words were not used in sentences in any activities surprised me. It is so important that children learn to associate the meaning of words when they see it and hear it. Also, using the word in a sentence will help children know which word they are expected to choose; such as in my example of “to” and “two”. Another reason the lack of sentences is so surprising is that the Custom Lists section suggests when you are recording words you use the word in a sentence.

After completing a list with 100% a trophy is awarded. Word Challenge awards a black and white trophy; Spelling, full color. In the Word Challenge and Spelling activities, once a list has been completed correctly the next list is unlocked.

One feature parents or teachers will like is the ability to see the results. The results include the list, score, status, date and time, and words. App settings include the ability to choose the difficulty; easy uses random words and hard uses words that start with the same letter; and the ability to see existing lists or to create new lists. Word Challenge and Spelling Tricky Word Lists can be viewed in the Custom Lists.

The overall design is very simple; graphics, colors, music, and sounds are subdued so as not to distract the children. Narration is clear and easy to understand. The interface is easy for adults or children; most areas are intuitive. Recording a custom list might take a few tries. It can be a little quirky depending on when you choose to save the word and if you have auto correct on (device keyboard settings).

Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop is designed to be kid-safe. What I consider to be “Parent” buttons are in upper left corner of main screen, “boring black” and blend nicely into the background. The buttons for kids are large, bright, and colorful and are placed where they will draw the child’s attention. The app does not contain any external links, social media buttons, or in-app purchases. Perfectly kid safe! Kudos to the developer!

With the addition of words being used in sentences and some refinements to adding custom lists Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop could be a five-star app. Making this a multi-user app (multiple user accounts in-app) would be nice, too.

Bottom line

Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop is a fun and engaging way for kids to learn their sight words. Though the app offers many features and a price that parents will like a few improvements are needed.

Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop is a great app for reinforcing sight word fluency. Learn over 200 dolch sight words thoughtfully broken up into 24 levels with 3 different activities. “Flashcard” shows and speaks each word with an option to turn on “quiz mode” and read words yourself and tap to hear if correct. “Word Challenge” quizzes your child to find the word from a series of 4 choices and “Spelling” gives your child a spelling word to type out. Parents can easily see their child’s progress in the app and create custom lists for their child’s needs. An excellent app for reinforcing the spelling lists your child is working on at school. Regular Price: 2.99