Introducing Spellie

Today I’m happy to announce the launch of Spellie – a spelling word game for kids.

It might look similar to other word games out there, but this one has a few unique features specifically developed with young spellers in mind.

  • Daily puzzles from a curated, kid-friendly list of words
  • 3 difficulty levels to challenge spellers of all ages
  • Easy mode is appropriate for K-2 and has hints and help
  • Hard mode is challenging enough for adults, but with words that any Grade 4 student can spell
  • Letters can be entered in any order
  • Brighter, more kid friendly colours
  • Kid-friendly font (Andika) with either uppercase or lowercase letters
  • Alphabetically ordered keyboard
  • No restrictions to entering words that might not be in the dictionary
  • Over 400 emojis that you can collect as rewards for spelling and imagination

Spellie was born when I tried doing the daily Wordle’s with my daughter Astrid. If the word was one she knew, like ROBOT, then she had a chance of figuring it out. But if it was something like QUERY, she was lost.

Wordle #2

So I paired up with David (a friend, former coworker, and parent of 2 kids of his own), and we decided to build a Wordle-like word game that would appeal to our kids. One with easier words and a friendlier user interface.

We went through a lot of iterations and design ideas.

v0 – Spreadhseet prototype

The first prototypes were in a spreadsheet where we tested out various word lengths. We quickly found that shorter words were actually harder than longer words because you get less feedback. This was challenging for young spellers as they know more 3 and 4-letter words – so we added hints and help.

After the spreadsheet prototypes, we moved to a simple webpage. We decided to use alpine.js as our framework for managing state and UI transitions. Once we had the base game working, we slowly added more kid-friendly features like cursor support, hints, animations, and emojis.

We tested different feedback to indicate duplicate letters (which often leads to tricky puzzles) but never came up with anything we loved. It’s something we might revisit in the future, but for now, we’ve reduced the number of the puzzles that have duplicates in them.

Next came the more kid-friendly font and colours. I’m not entirely happy with the colours, but we’ll tweak them over the next few weeks.

The final change was rebranding from Wordle Kids to Spellie. With the NYT acquisition of Wordle, we didn’t want to run into any copyright issues. Our game is clearly inspired by Wordle (like many others out there), but we’ve built it from the ground up to be a completely different experience.

We still want to do work with the user interface, but we’re happy enough with where things are today to launch it. I don’t usually develop software projects in my spare time, but it’s been an absolute joy to work with my friend David on this. Seeing our kids enjoy something we built and improve their spelling has been very rewarding.

Let me know if you have any feedback or want to help contribute.

33 comments

  1. Absolutely brilliant! Congratulations to the two of you. I hope this site really takes off as it will be a great benefit to children around the world. And also help old people like me, who can’t spell as evidenced by my previous comment. LOL.

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  2. How do you clear the board after winning? I would like to start another game, but my words and “You win!” still show. Thanks.

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  3. It’s cool you made this. I tested it myself first to introduce to my son. One difference I noticed with wordle is that spellie accepted a non-word. The first word I typed wasn’t actually a word “lnch” but it counted as a guess. Also, i thought what i typed was inch so a mistook the l for i.

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  4. Great to hear of this on CBC this morning. As educators, we are all ears and want to use it. Spellie is blocked on our school server as of this morning. Maybe a technical issue? There are many ad-filled, unexpected-content game sites that ARE allowed on our district server. Any ideas?

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  5. Love this! Thank you! My kiddo is in grade 1 and this is a perfect game for us to do together and help him learn his words. It’s also a fun way to incorporate English into his daily learning because his schooling is all in French!

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  6. Our kids are having a great time, played spellie every day so far and love it! the recent change to the blue pallette is difficult for one kid who has a colour vision deficiency – he can’t see the contrast between the yellow and green letters on the blue background. Can we suggest also an option in settings for the basic/original colours that supports this?
    😊

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  7. Bravo! We adore this game! Very well done. Could you make a version/tab also for the game in French? We would appreciate it very much.

    Many thanks!

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  8. Loving this! I am a reading specialist for grades 3-5 and love to do this with my groups! They love it too.

    Is there a way to repeat the puzzle for my different groups? I have 6 groups a day and if I solve it with one group, I am unable to do it with others.

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    • Thanks Michelle. Happy to hear your enjoying the game.

      If you go back to a completed puzzle there will be a reset button at the bottom. We added this specifically for teachers. We’re planning on making it a bit more obvious.

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  9. My class is enjoying this game and I was just introduced to it. Thank you so much for creating this fun, kid- friendly spelling game. I tried to load the game today for my class in the morning but it would not load. The site could not be reached is the message I am receiving.

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    • Sounds like a problem with website filtering at your school. We’ve had similar problems within the Vancouver school division which has a strict website filtering policy.

      Can you try https://wordlekids.com/ and see if that works? It’s a copy of Spellie that doesn’t have “game” in the domain name.

      If that doesn’t work, you might have to reach out to IT and ask them to unblock the website.

      Like

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