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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.

Make It Rite Write Right!

The full set of Make It Rite Write Right books are now available from the Spelling Made Easy people. They are proofreading/editing  activities correlated with the Spelling Made Easy series. The  4 levels increase in complexity and would be suitable for Key Stage 3 pupils who need to develop their spelling skills, as well as KS1 and 2 pupils. @RachelOrr has reviewed the first two volumes HERE. I hope you find them useful.


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.

Simple Collaborative Speech-To-Text Use

If you have a 3rd generation iPad, Android phone, tablet, or indeed any device with microphone input facility on the keyboard then this might be a useful tool using Google Drive/Docs, either web-based or phone. Download the app and get an account if necessary.


Open a new document and name it whatever. By sharing the link with whoever you want to, using the microphone key on the keyboard, anybody can input speech that will turn into text in the document. Make sure to allow ‘anyone can edit’. Indeed this approach could be used with any format of shareable document.


This could be useful for e.g. brainstorming ideas, recording answers quizzes/questions, ALN/SEN students who require alternate methods of inputting/recording work, I’m sure there are a plethora of uses. Whilst you may end up with a bunch of random unlinked sentences using with a lot of students, the redrafting, organising and proof-reading could be an integral focus of the lesson for some students.

The Flitlits, Chromecast, Nessy Reading, Teach Your Monster To Read

I haven’t blogged for ages but here are a couple of reviews of a few resources.

The Flitlits

The Flitlits is a series of narrated (if needed) iPad story apps created by Eiry Rees Thomas with support from the Welsh Government. They’re all available in the iTunes store. The characters inhabit the island of Fussbut, Seldom See, an imaginary land that time forgot. The apps are aimed at KS2/Grades 2-5 but the stories could be told and discussed with younger pupils too. The quirky stories are written in rhyming couplets and have a retro-storytelling feel to them. It is at the word-level/vocabulary-level that is perhaps where the best use of the stories could be exploited for educational purposes, I can certainly see me dipping into the stories for this purpose.


The three apps are

There is an extensive educational guide for curriculum ideas and possibilities for teachers to peruse. Welsh Language educators in particular could use the rhyming aspect of the stories to create resources for rhyming skills along the lines of the PAT (Phonological Awareness Training) resources, also perhaps to Tric A Chlic Welsh phonics programme. It’s perhaps pertinent to mention there is a dearth of resources in Welsh for any teachers with pupils displaying dyslexic tendencies. I hear though Pearson will be publishing some materials soon developed by walesdyslexia/dyslecsiacymru, they can’t come quick enough.


Chromecast is a dongle-sized device that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV, once set up, you can then stream your pc, tablet or phone screen to the TV, a bit like Apple TV. You can easily cast the screen from your Android phone or tablet, so e.g. docs in Google Drive could be displayed, photos from Gallery, doing away with the need for a visualiser/docu-cam etc., here’s a list of cast-friendly Android Apps. There are a growing number of Ipad apps that can cast, for example Youtube and other media can be streamed. Here are some ideas for classroom use, here’s another good article. Both point out that as an open platform, security is an issue. I’m sure some edu-safety boffins will find a solution, but the device does seem to have enormous educational potential.

Nessy Reading

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 21.55.05

Those of you who are familiar with the Nessy Learning Program (and don’t know yet), will be pleased to learn that Nessy is now accessible online as Nessy Reading. Site licences for schools are available, as are single subscriptions for parents. All the features of Nessy are still there; 100s of worksheets, animations, mnemonics, games, strategies etc, with the ability to track pupil progress, which is invaluable as a homework monitoring device for me. The initial assessment sets targets in reading and spelling then the pupil is guided by arrows pointing which activity to attempt next. The coup-de-grace for me is that unless the pupil scores at least 8/10, the level isn’t completed and must be done again, this doesn’t happen in the CD version.

Whilst Nessy was developed at the Bristol Dyslexia Centre, any pupils struggling with literacy may well benefit from having a go at using the Nessy program.

*Use the code RED DRAGON for ANY Nessy product (including schools) will receive 10% discount.

Teach Your Monster To Read

The fab TYMTR is now available as an App in the iTunes store. Early years, if you haven’t tried it, have a look.


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.


Callum’s Letters

Callum (year 5) is trying really hard to remember all the initial letter sounds and the digraphs sh, ch, th and ck.

He’s doing really well using a format based on multisensory methods and short lesson sessions as advocated by the Catch Up literacy program. I have no commercial interest in Catch Up, but as Callum in his baseline assessment knew 13 initial sounds and ‘ck’ (given that he’s now year 5) I thought I’d try the quite systematic approach Catch Up advocates. Obviously as he has such complex needs, I’ve adapted the program somewhat, using the Nintendo DS and MSPaint as recording mediums and one sound per lesson as well as revising previously learned sounds.

I’ve made him write using his ‘magic’ finger, and the stylus on the Elitebook Tablet. He’s written the letters on the desk, tablet, NGFL_alphabet, Nintendo DSi, the walls, the carpet and paper. I’ll post more as the program unfolds.

He blended a n d today to read ‘and’ and as he blended the sounds to make the word, he exclaimed it like it was the first time he had really read it, rather than remembering the ‘and’ word. ‘I’m getting good at reading now’, was his comment.

After a few weeks he’s now recognising and distinguishing between h, t, sh, n, m and u (which bodes well for the future but it’s early days yet!)

I am convinced he is more motivated and engaged in literacy using the Nintendo DS, NGFL Alphabet and the Paint/Stylus input, time will tell.

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