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

Can you spell as well as an 11-year-old? Test your spelling, punctuation and grammar knowledge!

Curriculum changes mean that both Primary and Secondary schools are renewing their focus on spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

For primary schools, from summer 2013 year 6 children will sit an English grammar, punctuation, and spelling test, which will assess each child’s English skills in four key areas: Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling, and Vocabulary.

In secondary schools, pupils’ GCSE grades now depend, in part, on their ability to write grammatically, use punctuation correctly, and spell accurately. This applies to grades in English Literature, History, Geography, and Religious Studies. 5% of total marks in these subjects will be for spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

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Our challenge to you

How well do you think you would you do in a spelling, punctuation, and grammar test? We’ve compiled a short quiz with the kinds of questions children at the end of Key Stage 2 (end of primary school) will be asked.



1.       Which is the correct spelling of the following?

a) accomodate                            b) acommodate                 c) accommodate

a) apparent                                 b) aparrent                         c) apparrent

a) rhythm                                    b) ryhthm                           c) ryhthum

a) embbarass                             b) embarass                        c) embarrass

a) tomorrow                              b) tommorrow                    c) tomorow


2.       Find a homophone for:






3.       Give the correct spelling of the missing word in the following sentences:

a)      You can return the item if you still have your ………………………. (reciept/receipt) .

b)      My sister’s son is my nephew and her daughter is my ………………………………… (niece/neice) .

c)       Darwin wrote about the theory of evolution in his book, The Origin of the ………………………….. (species/speceis) .




Put in an apostrophe where appropriate:

1. the girls dress

2. The girls laughed.

3. James hat

4. Its raining again.

5. Its tail is fluffy.

6. Its past 10p.m.

7. Cauliflowers are reduced to half price.

8. Youre joking.




1.       Identify one relative pronoun and one possessive pronoun in the following sentence:

Fido picked up his bone, which was under his nose, and trotted away to bury it.


2.       Is the following sentence in the active voice or the passive voice?

The greenhouse was smashed to smithereens by our football.


3.       Match the verbs to the correct types:

1. to walk                 auxiliary

2. am                        modal

3. will                       infinitive


4.       Identify the following nouns as common, proper, abstract, or collective:

1. idea

2. Prince William

3. peas

4. herd


5.       Find the adverbs in the following sentences:

1. She hurriedly picked up her bag, and left as fast as she could.

2. She ran often, usually taking a challenging route which included several steep hills.

3. Recklessly, they threw their homework out of the bus window on the last day of term.


End of test!

How did you do? Do let us know in the comments box below.

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Oxford Primary Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling DictionaryOxford School Spelling Punctuation and Grammar Dictionary

If you didn’t get full marks, you may need to grab a copy of our new Oxford Primary Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Dictionary. It contains common tricky words targeting the top misspelt words used by primary school children, and a full colour section with grammar, punctuation and spelling terms and rules.

Our Oxford School Spelling Punctuation and Grammar Dictionary, for secondary school pupils, publishes in August.

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