Today you get a double whammy of app reviews. As we settled down to share all that we enjoy about Happi & The Word Thief, we learned of a new app by the same developer for more language learning and spelling fun. So today we are featuring both!
Kids are challenged to find words hidden in a seek and find puzzle before the thief comes and steals all their letters. If you find the words in time, there is a follow-up word scramble game which is quite challenging. Kids have to figure out the word scrambled on the top of the screen and then tap on the object from the picture below. If you don’t find the words in time, kids practice spelling the words by dragging the scrabble style letters into place.
The gameplay is perfect for the target age, advanced 5 and up. Ominous music and dark (but not scary) graphics are visually appealing. There are three levels of play, which you’ll want to take advantage of if you have a beginning reader/speller. The app is also lightly adaptive to help limit frustration.
We love that the play isn’t the same old present a word and spell it play (not that we mind those apps). There is a theme to the play and variety in the games. Also, the words aren’t always easy, which means our kids are really challenged and sometimes stumped. A little frustration, perseverance, and problem solving emerge as kids use Happi & The Word Thief.
Uh oh! Pirates have hidden four parts of a treasure map and you need to find them to unlock the grand treasure. Finding the maps is no easy task and requires your child to use spelling, math and other brain games to achieve the goal.
To start, you’ll find words hidden in treacherous land. Your job is to find the words, letter by letter to earn treasure chests. Be careful though, if you tap a place where this is no letter you ignite a bomb! The words, which are hidden crossword style, can be tricky to find even if really think about how each word is spelled. Thankfully there is a helpful feature if you get stuck!
After finishing the word search, you move on to dragging keys to unlock treasure chests. Of course, kids have to apply some knowledge to unlock the chests. A variety of activities like completing patterns, alphabetic order or a color mixing might be what stands in your way. Unlocking chests earns you puzzle pieces and tools that become very important at the end of the level as you look for the big, X marks the spot, treasure. It’s important to unlock the chests correctly, otherwise, you might lose your hard earned treasure!
What is unique about Happi & The Pirates (for a kids app), is that kids just might have to go back and solve the puzzles faster or with better accuracy. The reason is that you are earning tools and map pieces along the way. These tools are important for finding the big treasure hidden away in the large map at the end of each level. If you don’t get the right tools and puzzle pieces the first time through, you’ll need to go back and keep earning pieces.
Help your child work on their spelling by thinking through the words as syllable parts. Just like your young child started to read simple words one sound at a time: /r/ + /e/ + /d/. Your older child is starting to decode more complicated words by syllables: /rain/ + /bow/, /sham/ + /poo/. Here are two activities for working with syllables in your home.
**Parents with young children. Do these activities as aural games. Being able to hear, count and manipulate the syllables in words (part of phonological awareness) will help your child when they are ready to read and write these “big” words.
Activity 1: Wild, Wacky Syllables
What You’ll Need:
• A handful of 2 syllable words like planet, purple, baseball, rainbow.
• Rectangles of paper.
• Writing materials.
Together with your child, brainstorm a few two syllable words. Then discuss how you break those words up into syllables. For example: purple = pur/ple. Taking two rectangles of paper, write one syllable on each paper. Repeat this process for a handful of words, start with three or go all the way to ten. It’s up to you.
Now let those syllables go wild! Take all the pretty words you have written and mix them up. Instead of “purple” and “rainbow”, you might have “purbow” and a “rainple.” Continue until you either have a stomach ache from laughing at the silly words or when no more creative match are left.
Creative kids: Make a story out of these new words. Draw pictures of what you think a “purbow” looks like. Come up with words that when you break them into syllables and mix them with other words they make new words that are not wacky but real words you find in reading!
Activity 2: Partner Spell
Working on some tricky spelling words? Need a quick change of routine for these last weeks of school? Try a partner spell.
Here’s what you do. For each spelling word tell your child you will help with the spelling, but you will only help if you both work together. Explain that your child’s job is to spell the first syllable aloud and you will join in to spell the second syllable aloud (going back and forth if there are more than two syllables in your word). After spelling each word, switch roles with parent spelling the first syllable and then the child taking over.
This may seem simple, but by not just using rote memory to run through the spelling of each word, your child really has to think about each letter and where the syllable ends.
For younger kids, you can also play taking turns with the letters in simple words or trading off words to a familiar nursery rhyme or song.