PROS / The application has a wide variety of resources, including 140 spelling lists, 29 storybooks and 1,700 spelling words.
CONS / The games are short and repetitive.
VERDICT / While the game setting makes learning how to spell more fun, the software focuses too much on entertainment at the expense of its educational value.
Spelling Blaster combines entertainment and education in its spelling software, which is good for children who are learning how to spell and need help staying motivated. However, the design of the games sometimes puts too little emphasis on the educational aspect, and they can soon start to feel too repetitive.
With Spelling Blaster, your child chooses an intergalactic character to help them recover books stolen by aliens. In order to identify who stole the books, your child must solve spelling puzzles, gather clues, fill in the blanks of sentences, spell whole words, unscramble jumbled words, and recognize spelling patterns and word families. To win the game, they must spell words correctly to receive clues about the alien culprits and identify who they are.
There are seven different types of spelling games for kids in this software. At the beginning of each of them, your child selects a list of words from the 140 spelling lists available. The software has a 1,700-word database, with each list containing words commonly taught from kindergarten through third grade. As such, this game is designed for children ages 6 to 9. You can add words to the program to increase the difficulty; however, they will not be digitized on the screen, and the speech synthesizer is hard to understand on customized words.
Several of the games focus more on the entertaining goal of finding the alien who stole the books than on how to spell the words. Instead of typing with the keyboard, the game has you shoot lettered balls to spell a word and other various ways that almost get in the way of spelling out a word. Additionally, the games are short in length and variety. After the third or fourth spelling list, the games lose a lot of engagement value because they are too repetitive.
The spelling program comes with several different types of spelling resources aside from the software. After your child masters a list of words, there is an onscreen storybook to read or print off. The storybook contains all of the words on the list and serves as a good review of the material. Spelling Blaster also comes with printable activities, including word lists, word searches and crossword puzzles.
After your child completes each mission, Spelling Blaster rewards them with a colorful certificate. The game allows for multiple users and stores each child's progress separately. Additionally, the software monitors your child's misspellings to identify problem areas. The software offers some technical support with both a phone number and email on the company website.
While Spelling Blaster offers an entertaining way to learn how to spell, it has several shortcomings as an educational tool. The software is geared at young children, which mostly excludes this game from anyone over age 10, and while you can add customized words, the technology of the game makes it difficult to learn them without being able to see them. This spelling program is best for young children who respond especially well to learning with some form of game, but it is not as versatile or effective as some others on the market.