When it comes to apps for the preschool and under crowd, I appreciate an app that doesn’t try to do too much. Kids don’t always need to earn gold coins, reach the next level or simultaneously master shapes, letters and numbers; sometimes it’s good to just keep it simple.

This great little spelling app called Freefall Spelling is just that–simple and educational.

A cute, colorful picture pops up on the screen that looks like it’s clipped straight from a sketchbook. Meanwhile, letters to spell what’s pictured float down the page. Kids grab each letter before it disappears, and drag it into its place while a voice tells them the name of letter they have chosen. Once one word is spelled, a new picture appears.

The game allows for two setting controls–you can turn off the background music (which isn’t annoying…yet.), as well as get rid of the spelling “hints” that appear at the bottom of each screen, making it more challenging for older emergent spellers.

In between rounds, kids are rewarded with a fun game of bubble or balloon-popping. You may want to have them hand over the app at this point, mamas. That popping is quite cathartic.

I would definitely recommend this app for learning letter recognition and even for improving those fine motor skills that your child will need when it comes to paper and pencil writing as they grow older. But the teacher in me wonders if kids really improve their spelling when they drop letters into a word in any order. Would it be better if they had to drop in the letters in order, starting at the beginning of the word? I honestly don’t have the answer. But it wouldn’t keep me from shelling out the 99 cents for this great little app.

Either way, I really love Freefall Spelling for its simplicity and artful illustrations, and for its straightforward approach to learning. Oh, and the bubble-popping. -Molly

Freefall Spelling for the iPad or iPhone is available in the iTunes store

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