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Nessy Apps

I’ve had a good play with all the Nessy Apps on my android Smart Ultra 6 phone and they all run pretty smoothly. The Hairy Words apps are particularly good for High Frequency Words. Check out more information on Nessy products.


If you use the code ‘red dragon’ at the cart, you’ll get 10% off.


A Gamechanger – Osmo

Last year I signed up to get an Osmo, a little bit of genius kit utilising the Ipad‘s camera and aspects of augmented reality, the camera and Ipad recognising and responding to objects (letters or shapes) placed in the field-of-view.

It came in October and since then has caused the dropping of jaws of both pupils and adults. Some adults scurrying off to get others to come and see it in action. Why? It’s magic, well the kids (and quite a lot of adults) think so.


There are 3 (so far) ways to use the kit, a Tangram puzzle where you have to recreate shapes shown on the screen, firstly the shapes are delineated to practice, then just the silhouette shows. A physics game, Newton, where you have to draw lines on paper, but I use a whiteboard, to bounce balls to hit targets, the difficulty increasing all the time. And Words- this is really where it is a winner for me and my work with kids with all manner of literacy difficulties.


‘Words’ works by simply presenting a picture on the Ipad with spaces for each letter of the word. The kids/adults have to place, throw or flick the right letters into the field-of-view and the camera/Ipad responds by inserting the letter(s) onto the screen. It’s like a hi-tech hangman really. Each pre-made picture set has several levels of word-difficulty from needing just an onset, medial, or final letter to needing all the letters to complete the word e.g. for a picture of an ‘egg’ it may present ‘-gg’ so just an ‘e’ is needed or ‘—‘ where all letters are needed. Scores tot up and whoever gets to the winning post gets bragging rights. There are already several sets of pictures that can be downloaded e.g. from cvc words, cvcc, ccvc words, ABC, fruit and veg, colours, geography, rocks and minerals etc. etc.


You can make your own sets with your own pictures, I use Search Creative Commons all the time. The difficulty of the word can be set as stated earlier simply by bracketing what letters you want to appear onscreen, none, a couple, lots etc. As you can see I’ve done some Premier League football teams and immediately, pupils (including difficult kids, I mean really difficult kids) are in there trying to complete the words. It can get chaotic with several pupils, but in the best possible way.

Segmenting, blending, phonics, listening, engagement, peer-coaching, motivation, turn-taking, cooperation, collaboration, this device brings it out in bucketloads. If you’re a teacher, just buy one for every class in the school, it’s a no-brainer.


Disclaimer- I have no affiliation with PlayOsmo whatsoever.

Chimp Fu and Nessy

Just in time for summer hols, Nessy Learning Ltd have released a new app on both iTunes and Google Play– Chimp Fu! Chimp Fu press release


Chimp Fu takes an aspect of the Nessy Learning System and provides a games-based graded approach to ‘chunking’ or segmenting words into syllables. The player is introduced to strategies to help break up words then can play a series of games. I’ve played it with some of my pupils and they seem to enjoy the games and progression. The neat thing about Chimp Fu is that if you have a Nessy.com account, Chimp Fu will sync to it allowing pupils to pick up progress on any device. The App costs £1.99 on iTunes but is FREE on 17th July for 24 hours, don’t miss out!! It’s £1.79 on Google Play.

|||***If you use the code ‘Red Dragon‘ for ANY Nessy product, then you will receive a 10% discount***|||



Whilst it’s aimed at KS 1 & 2 pupils, many older struggling readers may benefit from using the App.

The Nessy Learning System is now available online as NESSY READING and those of you who use Nessy Learning System will welcome this extension. Pupils can access the program from home, with the 1000s of worksheets and printable card games included in the program, it’s a steal. Even better with the 10% discount, just quote Red Dragon.

Nessy Reading is a pretty comprehensive online teaching resource and whilst nothing’s perfect, it ticks lots of boxes for engagement and motivation for those struggling with literacy and the humour running throughout is an endearing feature. There is plenty of overlearning and repetition of patterns and strategies. Don’t be put off by the KS1 & 2 focus, I’ve had plenty of KS3 pupils happily using the games and worksheets to reinforce lesson content.

You can play for free here


NB. I have delivered training for Nessy but receive no commission for sales, I just think it’s a good tool.


Kinect, Processing and other ramblings

I don’t blog enough, and I read a great article about blogging in10 mins, I’ll try………..

As a starter, I still am so fuelled by twitter and the fabulous resources that people find and link to, so if you’re a teacher and not on Twitter and fancy some red hot resources to use, join….as far as 10 mins goes, I’ve failed already…

I’ve taken an approach with some of my pupils that their literacy difficulties, and not necessarily dyslexia, are an attitudinal difficulty to engagement with reading and writing rather than a wholesale difficulty in being able to read and write, so I’ve tried to engage them in activities that might inspire to them to write. After all, my primary focus is to get them to be better readers and writers, and fundamentally, that requires practice.

Their microblogs are HERE

One of the things I use is Google Sketchup, the tutorial videos are great, here’s the house Jordan drew after watching the first new tutorial HERE.

Here’s his blog, check out his other writing, I think that’s pretty impressive recall and skill from one viewing of a video.

I’ve also been using Kodu, here’s video of Ieuan’s latest blog Ieuan’s Kodu Update

Here’s his blog

I’m finding that segmenting and blending is often hugely at root of the difficulties in reading and consequently I do loads of speaking and listening with a heavy emphasis on breaking down the words into their phonic components. With this comes approximate phonetic spelling and at least indicates an understanding of the building blocks of reading and writing.

Callum in Year 2 hates writing with a vengeance so for him to write two words was a huge achievement.

Callum’s first ever micro mini nano blog IS HERE

I’ve been using the Kinect  and Processing recently thanks to the genius of my mate Jan Ciger, who has developed some Processing hacks that I thought would work with Kinect, essentially the hands and sometimes head are tracked, I’ll write a bit more about this again but this is a screenshot of an image created by Callum when he was ‘Star Wars Luke Skywalker’.

One last thing before I go. and I will blog more about the Kinect stuff tomorrow, I disagree with the proponents of the school of thought that textspeak is detrimental to language development, because without an idea of the constructs of written language, textspeak wouldn’t exist, so although it might appear as a new ‘wrong’ language to some, it is only a hybrid of languages that already exist.

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