Spell with Pip: a fun new app to help children practise their spelling

With the new emphasis on spelling, punctuation and grammar in primary schools, including a test in year 6, it’s more important than ever to make sure that children have lots of opportunity to practise their spelling. We’re very excited to introduce Spell with Pip – a fun new spelling app for children from the team behind the world-famous Oxford Children’s Dictionaries.

There are lots of quirks in the English language which make it tricky for children to spell words correctly. Here at OUP our Children’s Dictionaries team has a huge database of children’s writing, so they can spot exactly the kind of spellings children often struggle with (read more about the Oxford Children’s Corpus here).

For example, silent letters can be confusing: the silent ‘h’ at the beginning of ‘which’ is often left out by children, and sometimes an errant silent ‘h’ finds its way into other words, making ‘whith’ and ‘whent’. Sometimes we blur certain sounds when we speak, which is reflected in spellings like ‘happend’ and ‘suprise’. Double letters often prove difficult, as spellings such as ‘realy’ and ‘untill’ show.

With so much to think about, spelling can be challenging for children. But help is at hand from a new feathery friend.pip

Meet Pip the parrot, star of Spell with Pip: An Oxford Spelling Game – a brand new iPad app which is so much fun that children won’t even notice they are practising spelling.

In the app, children use their finger to swoop Pip around the screen, picking up floating letters in order to correctly spell a word. Spell with Pip has spelling skills at its core, but it is also a real arcade-style game which is exciting enough to keep children practising and learning. Take a look at this short video to see Spell with Pip in action.

The 3,000 words in the app have been carefully sorted into levels, guided by our Oxford Children’s Corpus research. As Pip visits different locations around the world, from the Oasis to the Arctic, the words he has to spell become gradually harder. Our Children’s Corpus has shown this doesn’t just mean longer words, but also words with double or silent letters (‘accidently’), consecutive vowels (‘freinds’) or irregular endings (‘heared’). Spell with Pip provides a friendly, colourful environment to rehearse these tricky words and gain confidence in spelling skills.

oxford first dictionaryThe app is designed for children aged 4-8, or for any children who need a little more confidence in spelling. All the words are taken from the Oxford First Dictionary, and the app is suitable for users of both UK and US English.

You can download Spell with Pip from the App Store (a version for Android will be available in spring 2014).

We’d love to hear how you get on with the app. Happy spelling!

Spell with Pip

Oxford Children’s Dictionaries

Oxford University Press publishes English and bilingual dictionaries for children of every age. Find out more about our bestselling range on our website, including the Primary Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Dictionary and School Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar Dictionary.

9780192745378 9780192734211

Monkeying around with Oliver and the Seawigs – our first ever sea monkey intern!

This month we’ve had the company of a rascally sea monkey, who has escaped from the pages of Oliver and the Seawigs to learn what it’s like to work in publishing and help us in the lead up to Christmas. It’s been an interesting time to say the least, and it does seem suspicious how all our mince pies and office treats have been going missing…

Oliver and the Seawigs Christmas greetings

Our new recruit was very excited to begin counting down to Christmas. She braved the bus on the way in to the office and soon made her way to the Oxford University Press front gates. EEP!

Oliver and the Seawigs sea monkey on the bus

By the end of her first week, she was happily working away in the publicity office, sending out copies of Oliver and the Seawigs and teasing the new titles for 2014, such as Nikki Sheehan’s Who Framed Klaris Cliff?

Oliver and the Seawigs sea monkey press release

On the 5th December our office sea monkey placed an important call, ready to announce that OIiver and the Seawigs had been shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award! The announcement went out on the CBEEBIES channel that evening.

Oliver and the Seawigs sea monkey phone call

The next day she decided to make a show card to celebrate the Blue Peter news. But all that tape was very sticky and she got into a bit of a pickle in her excitement.

Oliver and the Seawigs sea monkey showcard

By the 9th December our well behaved monkey had been feeling a little mischievous and decided to have some fun. She ventured down to visit the editorial offices and ended up making some VERY IMPORTANT changes to a manuscript from editor Clare Whitston’s desk – EEP!

Oliver and the Seawigs sea monkey editing

Next she went to visit the home of Oxford Words to take a #selfie, as she’d heard that it was word of the year. Even if she really thought the best word ever was EEP! To make her feel better, the digital dictionary team added an entry to their app to explain the etymology of her sea monkey language.

Oliver and the Seawigs sea monkey selfie 1

Oliver and the Seawigs sea monkey selfie 2

She was so impressed with her award announcement and app entry that she decided to edit the front cover of Oliver and the Seawigs and add in her own ideas.  We’re not sure designer Jo Cameron was as happy with her changes, though.

Oliver and the Seawigs sea monkey designing

As Christmas crept closer, the sea monkey took to travelling in style and hitched a ride with one of the Oxford University Press reindeers to get to work.

Oliver and the Seawigs sea monkey reindeer

And judging by photos from our Christmas party, it looks like she is now right-hand monkey to Big Boss Rod Theodorou.

Oliver and the Seawigs sea monkey Rod

Our sea monkey intern has certainly been making a splash eeping about Oliver and the Seawigs. However, we have become increasingly worried that her time here may have just been part of a monkey master plan for world domination…

Oliver and the Seawigs sea monkey rights

First Oxford University Press, then the world!

Oliver and the Seawigs monkey takeover

Oliver and the Seawigs Christmas greetings wood cut

Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre is out now.

oliver and the seawigs

If you’re feeling creative, take a look at this Oliver and the Seawigs Christmas present pack from Philip and Sarah, complete with gift tags and a knit your own sea monkey knitting pattern!

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