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Montessori Crosswords for Kids

Montessori Crosswords for Kids



Age Range

Lower Primary

App Type

Learning App

Version Reviewed


Android Available?

Is Android Available

Lite Version Available?

Is a Lite Version Available

Help Provided?

Is Help Provided
Bloom's Thinking Process
CreatingBlooms Creating
EvaluatingBlooms Evaluating
AnalysingBlooms Analysing
ApplyingBlooms Applying
UnderstandingBlooms Understanding
RememberingBlooms Remembering
Review Comments
Montessori Crosswords gives children practise spelling using the letter sounds of words. Children make crossword puzzles using a moveable alphabet. Children can also play freely with the alphabet. Children can also choose to focus on one sound for extra practice.
The app has an option to group letters together in a unit for digraphs (e.g. "sh" or  "th") and "ar" contolled vowels (e.g. ar, er), "ll" (e.g. bull), "ck" (chick) etc.  
The moveable alphabet has the vowel sounds coloured blue. I am unsure why the y is coloured blue. 'y' becomes part of a vowel at the end of a word, but it is a consonant at the beginning of words. This is a little confusing. The challenge with the crossword formation is that the same vowel can be pronounced differently in different words. For example, 'a' is pronounced differently when reading the vertical word (saw) and the horizontal word (mail).
The absolute highlight of this app is the beautiful animation when the crosswords are completed. They are so appealing to my students on the spectrum.
Phonics:  This app includes short and long vowel, blends and digraphs.
Pronunciation: At times the neutral (schwa) vowel was added especially on the , 'y' and 'b'. It is difficult to understand some of the pronunciations of the vowels if you are not a North American speaker. The "u, o, aw (claw), ar" (car) sounds are hard to understand. I would like to see this app enable the user to record their own voice.
There are challenges in using a moveable alphabet for phonics. For example, in the word "squid", there are 5 letters and the "q" is pronounced as a "k" and the "u" is pronounced as a "w".  Also, Australian users will be confused with words which contain the neutral schwa. For example, the "e" in camel was pronounced "u" whereas Australian speakers would use a schwa. I was pleased to see that the silent "e" isn't pronounced in words such as "mole". There is also an option to have a lengthened "l" and "r" or the traditional pronuniciation where the scwa is added.
Level: All words are shown as single words.
Word Lists: Words are organised by 1) CVC 2) CCVC or CVCC 3) words with digraphs 4) focus on one sound or cluster/blend 5) words of any complexity 6) themes e.g. animals. You can make your own lists using the existing words.
Voice: The voice is a North American female.
This game can be used by multiple children.
Use Rank (*)
Spell with Phonics Ranked 12th of 44

(*) This app has been ranked according to its' effectiveness to achieve the learning goals and strategies listed. Some apps may rank highly for achieving a specific use and lower for other uses. Some students will learn and engage with one app more than others, because of the individual nature of us all.

Learning App
Learning apps are designed for a specific purpose. The authors claim to teach a goal, skill or concept.
Bloom's Thinking Process
Bloom's Taxonomy is classification system used to explain the behaviours important in learning. Apps range from simple memory tasks such as flashcards apps through to creative apps which ask students to create an original story or video.
Bloom's Creating
The student creates new ideas, products or ways of viewing things. Activities include making, animating, designing, constructing, planning, producing and inventing.
Bloom's Evaluating
The student justifies a decision or course of action. Activities include counting to check, hypothesising, critiquing, experimenting and judging.
Bloom's Analysing
The student breaks the information into parts to explore understandings and relationships. Activities include explaining, ordering, inferring, comparing and organising.
Bloom's Applying
The student uses the information in a new situation. Activities include implementing, carrying out, using, illustrating, classifying and categorising.
Bloom's Understanding
The student comprehends the new information. Activities include describing, predicting showing understanding use a multiple choice.
Bloom's Remembering
The student recalls information they know. Activities include matching, 'fill in the blank', making a choice, answering using a multiple choice, naming a group.
Learning Connection
How well does the app teach the targeted skill or concept? This is the area where we refer to current research and pedagogy to evaluate the efficacy of the app.
Authenticity looks at the manner in which skills are learnt. Authentic apps use real life or genuine activities. Students learn in context rather than in a contrived or rote fashion (such as flashcards).
Feedback needs to be specific and result in improved performance. Feedback should be supportive and encouraging rather than negative. Data should be available to support decision making.
Differentiation is the ability to customise the app to suit the student. The ability to record you voice, customise text, add pictures and alter settings enables individualisation of the app.
User Friendliness
User friendliness is a measure of how well a student can use the app independently. Some apps are simply intuitive to use. Others include audio or visual prompts which support the student.
All apps are engaging the first time they are played. However, students with diverse learning needs may need to return to the app many times. Motivating apps offer rewards,games or incentives.
Spell with Phonics
These are apps that spell words using letter sounds in a word (as opposed to spelling the word using letter names). There are 44 phonemes or letter sounds in the English language, including letter combinations such as /th/.

Domain Score Details
Learning Connection 3
Montessori Crosswords tries hard to teach phonics using a moveable alphabet. This is quite a challenge. I like the way that hints are provided as well. The student can hear the word again or see the word spelt. I think recording your own voice would make this app a winner.
Authenticity 2
The student hears a word then match that sound to the moveable alphabet. There is also an opportunity to use the alphabet in free play to create their own words.
Feedback 3
Correct - the child hears a positive bing sound and the letter glows. Incorrect, the child can't put the letter on the tile. The child can also tap on the answer if it is too difficult. Individual reports are available which can be emailed.
Differentiation 3
There are three fonts - lower cursive and non cursive and capitals. The keyboard layout can be changed from- alphabet, qwerty or vowels followed by capitals. There are audio setting changes available. You can control the length of the animation. Spelling can be forced from left to right.
User Friendliness 3
The alphabet is easy to use. North American students may understand the accent well, but it can be difficult for students from other countries.
Motivation 4
My students choose this as their favourite spelling app. They never seem to tire of the animations.
From the App Store
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pierre abel

App Store Rating

(from 11 reviews)

Current Version Rating

(from 11 reviews)

Current Version

App 1st Screenshot
App 2nd Screenshot
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App 4th Screenshot
App 5th Screenshot

Developer's Description
Based on the proven Montessori learning method, Montessori Crosswords helps kids develop their reading, writing, and spelling skills by building words from a set of 320 word-image-audio-phonics combinations using a phonics-enabled movable alphabet.

• Editor's Choice Award ( 4.8 stars out of 5 ) "It is an extremely powerful early reading experience." - Children's Technology Review
• "Best literacy app in my opinion" - Sue, National Board Certified Teacher
• Featured by Apple in "Apps for Learning to Read" & "Apps for Learning to Write"
• - “Montessori Crosswords is a great way for kids to develop literacy in an engaging way that feels like play."

• More than 280,000 units sold!
• Used in schools to learn phonics and spelling (65,000 units sold to schools)


Montessori Crosswords helps kids learn and understand two fundamental concepts:

• First, the app helps kids understand that words are made up of sounds or phonemes (phonemic awareness). For each word, your kids can touch the empty rectangles where letters must be dragged to complete the word, and hear the sound the corresponding letter produces.

• Secondly, the app helps kids memorize the phonics associated with letters by providing a phonics-enabled alphabet where kids can touch each letter and hear the associated phonic.


Montessori Crosswords allows you to select words according to their difficulty or sound categories:

• Level 1 displays a three-letter word with no difficulty for beginning readers (CVC words)
• Levels 2, 3 & 4 offer more complex words that contain more complex phonics (as long vowels sounds or blends), and also offer the option to automatically create multi-word crosswords in tens of thousands of different combinations
• Alternately, you can choose from 44 sound categories (i.e. choose words that contain a specific sound (for example, long a, “k” sound, and so on).
• You can also create custom word lists based on letter clusters

To create an enjoyable experience, the app also includes sounds, animations, and interactive visual effects that are displayed after a word is completed.

More Features:

• Digraph Support : "oo", "th",... are displayed as a whole unit
• R-Controlled vowels support ("car","horn",...)
• Capital, lower-case, or cursive letter display
• Setting to show only letters are in the word to spell (great for beginners!)
• Setting to force spelling from left to right

Users & Reports

• Create any number of users
• Check and export activity for each user in the Reports section

Common Core State Standard (CCSS):
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1b Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2 & CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.2 Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

More reviews:

• Wired's GeekDad - "5 Favorite Apps for Elementary School iPads" - "An excellent tool for learning spelling and early literacy (...) It can build from simple to more complex words making it usable by students from prep through to grade 3 or 4"

• Teachers' Reviews:
-Sue on - "I just have to say I love Montessori Crosswords both as a parent (to 2, 7, and 8 year olds) and K teacher. I like that the app is appropriate for the developmental levels of my students and all three of my kids"
-Cindy - "This is one of my favorite educational apps. I highly recommend it for the children who are learning to read and spell. The kids also love the interactive artwork."

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Disclaimer: The evaluations and rankings information provided here are based solely on the opinion of the author and are for informational purposes only. Families should seek professional advice before making decisions regarding interventions for their child.