Best spelling apps for kids

Best spelling apps for primary-school children
Help your child get to grips with spelling with our round-up of the best spelling apps for primary-school kids.

Best for rewards

Squeebles Spelling Test,  £3.99, Apple and Android

This app lets you create spelling tests with your choice of words: great for practising weekly spellings. You can record the words in your own voice, and choose how long your child gets to study them before attempting to spell them.

You can set up different profiles so you can test each child on their own words.

Your child earns stars and cute creatures (Squeebles) for getting words right. They can then use these to play Squeeberang!, a boomerang game where they can compete against siblings or friends, or try to beat their own highest score.

You can also download a range of ready-made tests tailored to your child’s age and stage, such as high frequency words and tricky words for confident readers.

Best for progressive learning

Mr Thorne’s Spellbook, £1.99, Apple

Teacher Mr Thorne has become a YouTube sensation with his educational phonics videos. His Spellbook app has 101 spelling tests based on the order in which children learn phonics sounds, starting with words beginning with s, a, t, i, n, p and leading onto two- and three-letter sounds.

In each spelling test, your child listens to the word and then has to type it in correctly. Some tests also include tricky high frequency words with irregular spellings.

Getting 10/10 on a spelling test unlocks the safe and reveals a hidden treasure. Can your child collect all 101 artefacts and fill the empty shelves of the museum?

Best for competing with school friends

Spelling Shed, £2.99, Apple

A popular app in schools, Spelling Shed is also great for practising spellings at home. Words are divided into three categories: stage one and two; stage three and four; and stage five and six.

The word appears on screen and is spoken, and when your child has studied it, they click OK and then try to write it from memory by clicking on the right letters. Children score points for each correct word, which they can add to their school leaderboard.

Within each category you can choose an easy, medium or hard level. Easy means that only the letters that appear in the word are provided; medium includes a few extra letters as decoys, and hard features a wider choice of letters to pick from.

In addition, medium and hard levels don’t show the spelling word on screen; it’s just spoken aloud.

The app is colourful and clear, featuring over 2000 National Curriculum words and a dyslexia-friendly font. You can also add your own spelling lists.

Best for preparing for the Year 1 Phonics Check

Ladybird I’m ready… to spell!, £1.99, Apple and Android

From trusted brand Ladybird comes a brilliant space-themed interactive app that gives children three games-based ways of learning spellings, and is great practice for the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check.

Scrambled Spellings shows a picture of the word (e.g.’woman’), and speaks it out loud if your child taps the picture. The letters are scrambled beneath the picture, and your child has to select them in the right order.

Sinking Spellings shows a picture with the word written beneath, with one or more letters missed out. Your child then ‘catches’ the missing letters as they fall from the top of the screen.

Speedy Spellings involves completing spellings against the clock to build a bridge for Captain Comet – a cute animated cat – to cross a creek. You can also add your own spelling lists in this mode.

Your child can decorate Captain Comet’s spaceship, and once they’ve completed a level, can blast it into space. There’s also a star chart where they can measure their own progress.

Best for early learning

First Words Deluxe, £4.99, Apple

Ideal for children who are just beginning to master letter sounds, First Words Deluxe teaches them to spell over 150 words in four categories: animals, at home, vehicles and other words. Many of these are short CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words of the type they’ll learn in pre-school or Reception, like ‘bee’ and ‘jet.’

Each word, with a corresponding picture, appears on screen and is read aloud. Your child then needs to drag the letters below into the right places. Once they’re all in place, they’re rewarded with a short animation.

You can opt whether the voiceover refers to letters by their name or their phonics sound. You can also specify the minimum and maximum length of words your child can play with, and whether they appear in length order or randomly.

Best for following the National Curriculum

Twinkl Spell & Pop, 99p, Apple

Study the word that appears on screen and is spoken aloud, then click to ‘pop’ the letter balloons that float up from the bottom of the screen in the right order to spell the word. Points are scored for each correct answer – but you lose a life if you pop the wrong balloon.

The words featured are taken from the Department for Education’s 100 high frequency words and the next 200 most common words, tying in with the KS1 National Curriculum. Your child has three lives to complete each test.

You can choose the speed of the balloons to increase difficulty as your child becomes more proficient, and can opt for the word to be spoken but not seen, as an extra challenge.

Best for challenging your child

Spelling Hangman, £1.99, Apple

Make learning weekly spellings fun with this new take on an old favourite game. You can enter your child’s list of spellings, with the option to record them in your voice as well.

The app then gives your child a word to spell; you can choose whether they see it first, or whether it’s just read out. Your child then picks a letter – and if it’s not in the word, a piece of the gallows or hangman appears. As a tricky twist, they have to choose the letters in the correct order, too.

Can they beat the hangman and complete the word?

Best for using primary school methodology

Spelling Whizz, £1.99, Apple

This app uses the ‘look – say – cover – write – check’ method used in many primary schools. Each word appears on screen and is spoken aloud; when your child has had a chance to study it, they can cover it up and write it from memory before checking their answer.

Words are divided into six sets that increase in difficulty and replicate the sort of tests often set by schools: for example, ‘ai’ and ‘ay’ words (Set 1), suffixes and prefixes (Set 3) and homophones and silent letters (Set 6). You can also create your own lists of your child’s spellings.

The downside is that there are no rewards or incentives for getting spellings right, but if you’re looking for an app that closely follows the National Curriculum, Spelling Whizz does the trick.

Best for themed spellings

Word Wizard for Kids, £4.99, Apple

Word Wizard has three different ways for children to learn spellings: Word Practice, where a word appears on screen for them to copy by dragging and dropping letters; Scrambled Letters, where they have to arrange a jumble of letters into a word; and Spelling Quiz, where they need to spell words that are read aloud.

There’s also a Talking Movable Alphabet function, where kids can experiment with writing their own words and sentences.

There’s a range of built-in lists, covering everything from common words to food, sports and nature, and you can add your own lists to test your child on their spellings.

This is an American app, but you can change to British English in the settings.

Best for games-mad kids

Spelling Monster, 99p, Apple and Android

If your child is mad about computer games, this will help them master their spellings without even realising.

You input lists of words for your child to spell, then they can choose from seven different games, each with its own friendly monster, to practise their spellings.

These include Letter Pop, where they need to pop the letter bubbles in the correct order; Letter Catch, where they have to catch letters on leaves falling from a tree; Missing Letter, where they’re given the word with a blank and have to fill in the correct letter; Lighthouse Letters, where they guide boats with letters on into the harbour in the right order; and Word Traffic, where they have to run over letters in the correct order using a car.

Best for SATs preparation

Your Spelling, Ages 5-11, £2.99, Apple

Designed by teachers, this app focuses on the words children need to know for KS1 SATs and KS2 SATs. There are three separate apps: KS1, KS2 Age 7-9, and KS2 Age 9-11. They can be bought individually or as a bundle.

Your Spelling reads each word aloud to your child; they then need to spell it correctly. If they need help, they can ask to see the word and it pops up on screen.

Overall, it’s a fairly dry app, although children can unlock characters for each list they complete correctly, but it’s good for drilling down the words they’re expected to learn under the National Curriculum.

Best for spotting spelling mistakes

Magic Spell, £2.99, Apple

Designed by teachers, Magic Spell challenges your child to recognise the correct spellings of the words that they’ll need to learn in primary school.

Set in a mystical cavern, the game involves swiping words that are spelled correctly as they fly around the screen, earning ‘Hobs’ – the app’s currency – that they can spend on new magic wands with unique abilities. The challenge is to spot the incorrectly spelled words and avoid swiping them, otherwise they’ll lose a life.

In campaign mode, there are 10 action-packed worlds for your child to work their way through, while trying to get into the top 25 players leaderboard. Alternatively, there’s a quickplay mode for when time is short.