Good things often come in threes: Three Little Pigs, three primary colors, Three Musketeers. Our latest app, 3 Words by Dotted Duck, is a surprisingly simple, yet creative spelling app for kids 4-6 years old. It plays off the concept of threes to help kids recognize and remember how to spell common words.
3 Words can be played on an iPad, an iPhone, or an iPod Touch. The words are divided into categories. After choosing a category, three high resolution photographs appear along with six different letter combinations. The trick is to make words using two groups of letters. As an example, take these combinations- sha, ee, rk, chic, ken, and b. By looking at the photos, you recognize a bee, a shark, and a chicken. All you need to do is choose two of the combinations (sha + rk) and press “Guess.” If you’ve chosen correctly, the word appears next to the photograph. If you’re wrong, the letters fall back down. When all three words are spelled correctly, the confetti flies and the level is completed. It’s so simple but so effective.
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I applaud this app for looking at spelling from a child’s point of view. Spelling is not as easy to learn as you might think. There are lots of words that need to be memorized, and many words aren’t spelled like they sound. For example, if broccoli were spelled phonetically, it would be “brockalee”. In 3 Words, the number of possibilities for spelling choices is limited, and each word is spelled quite differently from the other two. Think of it like this: the rate of success is set in the child’s favor to increase motivation. If the words were too hard, or too similar, the success rate would go way down, and the child might give up. That is not likely to happen with this app.
I found 3 Words has another benefit as well. I am impressed by the wide variety of vocabulary that is included, and with the benefit of clear, sharp photographs, kids are able to learn to recognize what a clove of garlic looks like, or a kiwi, or a mallard duck. This is an age at which most children are beginning to be aware of the world around them, and this app reinforces the development of a rich, robust vocabulary.
3 Words by Dotted Duck is a clever and professionally produced app that allows children to practice spelling commonplace words. The version that was reviewed contained only two categories, but many more are planned, and will be added shortly. If I were to choose my own three words to describe this app, they would be: straightforward, effective, and smart.
3 Words by Dotted Duck iOS available for download via the iTunes App Store - iPhone App compatible iPad and iPad Mini
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I am a speech/language pathologist (SLP) currently working in a school setting, serving children with special needs ages 6-14. I know how difficult spelling can be for some children, and I am always on the lookout for creative ways to make all kids better spellers.
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