Blog posts

How the Rhinoceros Got its Name 

Our chosen theme for April's Word for Wednesday posts is animals.  The word animal has been used in English to describe sentient living creatures since the early fourteenth century, before which the word beast was more common. It comes from the Latin 'animale' meaning ‘being which breathes’, from ‘anima’ which means ‘breath’ or ‘soul’.   Over the next few weeks, we will look at a range of animals and the origins of their names. Starting with…rhinoceros! Native to Africa and southern Asia, the rhinoceros is a large mammal known for the one or two horns on its nose. It is heavily built and has thick...

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Spellzone March Round-up

Here is a round up of our Coronavirus-related updates: March has been a strange month for all of us. In this uncertain and frightening time, we have found it so inspiring to watch our online educational community pull together. Please continue sending your homeschooling photos to us on Facebook and Twitter. They are really making our day.   During this time, we want to do our best to support you and your teaching and learning needs. We are here to help. If you have any questions, or need assistance setting your staff and students up for remote learning, you can contact us here.    You can find out more about how you can use Spellzone while schools are closed...

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20 Idioms about Cleaning

  1.      a clean bill of health – a declaration that someone is healthy again  2.      a clean break – a complete separation  3.      a clean getaway – an undetected escape 4.      a clean slate/sheet – free of existing commitments and restrictions  5.      a new broom sweeps clean – people who are new to a responsibility will make vast changes 6.      as clean as a whistle – very clean 7.      clean cut – appearing neat and tidy 8.      elbow grease...

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Word for Wednesday: Hyphen

For the month of March, we are theming our Word for Wednesday blog posts around types of punctuation. So far we have looked at the words apostrophe, parenthesis, and comma. This week’s word is hyphen.   A hyphen is a short dash which is used to link words together. There are three main situations in which hyphens are used: in compound words, when adding a prefix to another word, and to denote word breaks. A compound word is a word that is made up of two or more other words. Hyphens are often used in compound words either to show that when the included words are together they have a combined meaning, or to show the relationship between...

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20 Ideas To Help You Keep Up With Your Learning While You Are Staying At Home

If your school has been closed due to the Covid-19 virus, we are here to help. As we go through this uncertain time together, we will do our very best to continue working as normal. While we do expect a higher demand, our servers have plenty of capacity. We aim to continue to respond quickly to any requests for information or support. Whether you are a long-time user or new to our site, we hope some of these ideas will help you stay focused and beat boredom:  New to the site and not sure where to start? Logging back in after a long time? The first thing to do is work out your base spelling level using the Spelling Ability Test.   Once you have your score, start...

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If your school has closed or is planning for potential closure due to the COVID-19 virus, Spellzone is here to help.

According to UNESCO, a record number of children and youth are not attending school or university because of temporary or indefinite closures mandated by governments in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. Current Users Spellzone is working as normal. We do expect a higher demand but our servers have plenty of capacity. We aim to continue to respond quickly to any requests for information or support.  Spellzone enables students to study independently on any platform at home. There are 1000s of word lists on Spellzone and the multi-player games are particularly suited to students in isolation as they can compete with fellow students remotely. ...

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Word for Wednesday: Comma

For the month of March, we are theming our Word for Wednesday blog posts around types of punctuation. So far we have looked at the word apostrophe and the word parenthesis. This week’s word is comma.   Commas have a variety of functions yet many people are uncertain of how to use them. The main purpose of a comma is to clarify meaning by grouping together specific parts of the sentence. Each group within the sentence is separated by a comma which marks a slight break. One tip that teachers often use when teaching students how to read is to pause for one beat when there is a comma and pause for two beats at the end of a sentence. In this blog post, we...

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Support Resource Our Schools

Here at Spellzone we want every school in England to be able to afford the learning resources needed to support its pupils. That’s why we are supporting the #ResourceOurSchools campaign: "Students who attend schools that have good textbooks, science equipment and IT labs score two grades higher at A level than other children- the difference between getting AAA and ABB. 1 in 4 schools in England can’t afford to provide sufficient stationery and books for their pupils, and 6 in 10 children attend schools that can’t afford to spend the national average of £300 per pupil on classroom materials. Every child deserves to receive the learning materials they need...

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10 Words for … VERY

For this month's 10 Words feature, we’ve chosen the word very.  We use the word very to emphasise the description that follows it.  Don’t forget that the alternate words we share in these articles aren’t always direct swaps. Make sure you read the example sentences to see each word used in context. You can find links to previous 10 Words articles at the bottom of the page.  Here are 10 alternatives for very: 1)    Abundantly - in an abundant manner, with great quantity        She made it abundantly clear that she hated his taste in music.  2)  ...

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Word for Wednesday: Parenthesis

For the month of March, we are theming our Word for Wednesday blog posts around types of punctuation. Last week we chose the word apostrophe, and our word this week is parenthesis.  A parenthesis is a word or phrase inserted into a grammatically-complete sentence as an explanation or afterthought. The sentence would still make sense if the parenthesis was removed. There are three main punctuation marks used to mark of a parenthesis:  Round brackets  Daisy’s parents (Sally and James) are visiting France next month. Spellzone users have access to a variety of word lists (word lists, spelling tests, etc.).        2. Em dashes...

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Commonly Confused Words: Threw vs. Through vs. Thorough

What does each word mean? Threw is the past tense formation of the word throw, which describes the act of propelling something into the air. Throw is also used figuratively to refer to the act of entering an emotional state (like a tantrum) and the act of planning and hosting a celebration. It is also the verb used to describe the action of creating ceramics on a pottery wheel.  Here is threw used in some example sentences: The girls threw the ball back and forth.  The child threw a tantrum.  The ventriloquist threw her voice and made everyone think the puppet was talking. We threw my dad a party for his seventieth birthday.  The first pot I threw was...

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Word for Wednesday: Apostrophe

Over the course of March we’ve decided to try something new for our Word for Wednesday feature and choose each week’s word to fit around a specific theme. Our chosen theme is punctuation, starting with the word apostrophe.  As today is National Grammar Day in the United States of America, it is important to point out that grammar and punctuation are not the same thing. Grammar refers to the whole system and structure of a language and you can find a Word for Wednesday post about the word’s origin here. Punctuation on the other hand refers to the written marks used to separate sentences in order to clarify meaning.  Punctuation marks have a variety of...

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Spellzone February Round-Up

Happy Leap Day! Here’s our February Round-Up:  - This month’s pair of Commonly Confused Words were complement and compliment. Not sure the difference? Click here for tips and tricks to help you tell them apart. - With Valentine’s Day falling in the middle of the month, what word could we choose for our 10 Words feature but love? Whether you’re looking to describe romantic love, familial love, or platonic love; we’ve got the word for you.  - This month we also returned to our Idioms series with a list of idioms about thought and memory. Can you think of any others?  - Does Spring still feel too far away? Get yourself ready with our...

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Word for Wednesday: Idiom

Last week we looked at the origins of the word language and today we’re going to continue on that theme with the word idiom.  Idioms are an expressive way of using language. They are combinations of word which have a figurative meaning that is separate for the actual definitions of the words used.  Here are some examples of idioms and what they mean: 1) fly on the wall       an unnoticed witness      I’d love to be a fly on the wall when she finally tells them the truth.   2) storm in a teacup     a small occurrence exaggerated out of proportion     All this outrage seems like a storm in a...

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25 Idioms about Thought and Memory

1.    a light-bulb moment – a moment of sudden inspiration or enlightenment  2.    a senior moment – a momentary lapse in memory  3.    a shot/stab in the dark – a guess 4.    at the back of one’s mind – mildly preoccupied by but not constantly thought about 5.    by no stretch of the imagination – definitely not the case 6.    flight of fancy – an impractical but imaginative idea 7.    in a world of one’s own – concerned with one’s own thoughts and unaware of one’s surroundings ...

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Word for Wednesday: Language

There are an estimated 6000 languages spoken around the world and 43% are endangered.  In February 2000, the first International Mother Language Day was marked and it has been observed every year since. This year the event takes place on February 21. Here is what the UN writes about the day on their website: ‘Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to 'encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire...

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10 Words for... LOVE

Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you love Valentine's Day or think it's a complete waste of time, there's no denying that notions of love and heartbreak have inspired writers and artists for thousands of years. There are countless expressions associated with love in the English language: ‘...from the bottom of my heart’, ‘I have a crush on you’, ‘head over heels’, and even ‘broken heart’. So what other word could we choose for our 10 Words feature but love? From romantic love, to familial love, to platonic love; we’ve got the word for you. 1. Admire – to feel admiration for, to regard with warmth and...

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Word for Wednesday: Radio

Tomorrow – February 13 – marks World Radio Day and this year’s theme is diversity.  Here is what UNESCO writes about this day on their website:  “Radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity and constitutes a platform for democratic discourse. At the global level, radio remains the most widely consumed medium. This unique ability to reach out the widest audience means radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard. Radio stations should serve diverse communities, offering a wide variety of programs, viewpoints and content, and reflect the...

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Word for Wednesday: Salary 

A salary is a regular payment made by an employer to an employee. Though a salary is usually paid in monthly instalments, it is referred to as an annual sum. Here is salary used in some example sentences:   Her first job after university had a salary of £18000.  She used a calculator to work out her take-home salary.  Her pension contributions came straight out of her salary. She was looking for a salaried role. Salary dates to the late-thirteenth century and entered English via the Old French ‘salaire’. The word comes from the Latin ‘salarium’ which means ‘allowance’ or ‘stipend’ –...

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Commonly Confused Words: Complement vs. Compliment

What does each word mean? A complement is something that is added to another thing in order to complete it or make it perfect. The word can also be used as a verb to describe the act of completing or perfecting one thing by adding something else to it. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of complement. Here is complement used in some example sentences: Do you think the colours green and pink complement each other?  My new handbag will complement my shoes nicely.  This wine is the perfect complement for our dinner. A compliment is a remark or action that expresses praise and admiration. The word can also be used to...

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One of the students has put in a huge amount of effort in completing Spellzone at least 3 times a week since his arrival with us in January. Looking at his scores after the latest GL testing, his standardised score has risen from 99 to 131. This is a truly phenomenal result. I just wanted to share the best result I have ever seen.

Terrie Penrose-Toms, Casterton College

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