La Tela di Carlotta
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Rocket Speller Plus and no more fuss

Feb 6, 2014

Have you ever found yourself in a one-to-one class with a young child who doesn’t want to work anymore and starts jumping around and singing out loud? I have. And it’s frustrating.

Isaac is four and he’s learning to read. We’re using Jolly Phonics and he loves singing the songs and making the funny gestures. But he’s four, so when he decides the class is over, it is over. I needed a solution.

As Isaac loves using my iPad, I wanted to find an app that was not only fun, but also educational, so the class—and his parents’ money—wouldn’t be wasted. Rocket Speller Plus by Little Big Thinkers saved me. And not only with Isaac!

No matter the age, all my young students love this app! They have fun and work on their reading without even realising it.

How it works

Rocket Speller Plus is intuitive and easy to use. Kids simply have to spell out the 12 words that Zip the Alien calls out. Every word has a picture to help visual memory and understanding of new vocabulary.

  • You can choose between four different categories of words (basics, creatures, food, and around-the-house objects) or let the app shuffle them for you.
  • You can decide if you want your kid to hear the name of the letter or its sound (phonics).
  • You can choose between lowercase and uppercase letters.
  • You can choose between five levels of difficulty, which are clearly explained.

It sounds like any other spelling app, but it’s not.

Why kids love it

The “real mission” of the game is to help Zip the Alien build a rocket and drive it through space to collect stars.

Every three correctly spelled words, kids get to pick one piece to build their custom rocket ship.

After Zip has assembled his rocket and happily jumped into it with a “weeee!” sound, kids get to steer the rocket through outer space to collect all the stars (the number of which varies based on the level).

Why it's better than others

Isaac and I tried many educational game apps, but most of them were boring, too easy or didn’t use phonics. So far, Rocket Speller Plus has proven to be the best app to practice phonic sounds while having fun. Having a mission make kids feel like they want to spell the 12 words and get to the stars, so they rarely leave it unfinished.

Also, as there are so many rocket combinations, kids never get bored of it. Isaac loves taking a picture of every rocket he builds (on the last screen, just before hitting the button to start collecting stars).

It’s a perfect treat after a good class or a great diversion to keep the class on track and stop all the fuss.

What I don't like so much about it

Unfortunately, it doesn’t use all the Jolly Phonics sounds. For example, it doesn’t spell “ie” as one sound, but it separates it into “i” and magic “e”.

Also, Zip speaks and spells the words with an American accent. I don’t mind, as my students are usually English and already have their own accent, but it’s something ESL families might want to consider before purchasing the app.

What I'd like it to offer

  • More accents: I’d love to have the possibility to choose between American, English and—why not?—Australian accent.
  • More categories: I’d definitely buy additional word categories via in-app purchase, if they added this feature.
  • Jolly Phonics mode: It would be great if they added a Jolly Phonics mode for Jolly Phonics students.

Free version

Rocket Speller (without the Plus) is the free version of this app. It has less words (135 against 450 of the paid version) and doesn’t have the phonic option.

For $2.99, it’s definitely worth buying the Plus version.

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.

The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Our Montessori birthday
Two alternatives to screens that my kids love
Using fear and threats to control children is never right!
"Stop crying!" doesn't work
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

Podcast

On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

Oct 16, 2020 • 19m
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Mi chiedete spessissimo quale sia la nostra routine a casa con i bimbi e in questo episodio vi svelo che noi, una routine vera e propria, non ce l'abbiamo. Abbiamo una routine minima e indispensabile, che è un concetto che mi sono totalmente inventata su due piedi mentre parlavo a briglia sciolta in questo episodio, ma che credo funzioni davvero. Almeno per noi. La routine minima e indispensabile, secondo me, risponde anche a un altro "problema": trovo che ci bombardino spesso con l'idea del...
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Oct 9, 2020 • 24m
Sostenibilità: come sensibilizzare i bambini e i giovani adulti | Con Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli
In questa puntata a due voci di Educare con Calma – divisa a metà perché amo gli episodi corti - parliamo di sostenibilità e per farlo ho invitato mia sorella, Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli, project manager della Federazione dei Giovani Verdi Europei e un esempio per chiunque voglia intraprendere un viaggio nella sostenibilità: negli ultimi ha cambiato tutta la sua vita per ridurre la sua impronta di carbonio e per prendere ogni giorno decisioni più sostenibili per il nostro pianeta e in questa ...
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Oct 2, 2020 • 24m
Intraprendere un viaggio nella sostenibilità | Con Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli
In questa puntata a due voci di Educare con Calma – divisa a metà perché amo gli episodi corti - parliamo di sostenibilità e per farlo ho invitato mia sorella, Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli, project manager della Federazione dei Giovani Verdi Europei e un esempio per chiunque voglia intraprendere un viaggio nella sostenibilità: negli ultimi ha cambiato tutta la sua vita per ridurre la sua impronta di carbonio e per prendere ogni giorno decisioni più sostenibili per il nostro pianeta e in questa ...
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Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.