7 Best Toys for Learning Spelling & Writing

chrisAbout the Author: Hi, I’m Chris Drew and I am a child development expert. I’m a former teacher with a PhD in Education. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

My Pick: SlideWriter by ‘Fisher-Price’

My pick for the best toy for spelling and writing is this SlideWriter by Fisher-Price. It allows children to practice both putting letters together and writing individual letters.

It also has a strong focus on developing finger dexterity.

The best toys for spelling and writing are:

  • SlideWriter | Fisher-Price
  • Wooden Spelling Game | Moruska
  • Magnetic Letter Board | ZOSEN
  • Alphabet Letter Puzzle | Melissa & Doug
  • Word Whiz Electronic Flash Cards | ‘Learning Resources’
  • Magnetic Drawing Board | Play22
  • Write and Learn Touch Tablet | VTech

Best Toys for Learning to Spell & Write

1. Wooden Matching Letters Toy with Flash Cards Words

Quick Review: I like the simplicity of this toy, where your child can use a hands-on approach to identifying letters that make up words.

Best For: Spelling, ages 4 – 6

Hold up the sight cards and have your child tell you what the picture is showing. Once the child knows what they need to spell, they will need to find the letters that spell the word from the letter cubes.

What I love about this toy is that your child looks at the image and then has to think through the letters in the word. Once they’ve thought about what the word starts with, they used the wooden cubes to find the letter and put it in place. This toy can complement an analytic phonics approach to teaching spelling, where children need to break down words into their constituent letters and sounds.

The natural wood focus would also fit well within Steiner-Waldorf and Montessori learning settings.

Benefits for your Child:

  • Guided Practice: A guided, simple method for practicing spelling. Children can start in the easy setting and step up to the harder settings.
  • Pre-Writing Practice: This task will take place before writing begins. If your child is ready to start writing letters, consider a harder toy such as the SlideWriter (above).

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Finding Letters can be Frustrating: It can be a little frustrating for kids rotating the cubes around to try to find the letters..

2. Magnetic Letters and Numbers Set for Toddlers

Quick Review: Probably the best magnetic letter board I’ve ever used. I like that it comes with images, ample letters, and a grid on the magnet board. It packs up neatly for storage, too.

Best For: Spelling, ages 4+

I’m a huge fan of this magnetic spelling board. Most magnetic tiles only contain letters, but this one has letters and images. The main way this board is used is to spell out the words that correspond to the images. Set up the images (just like in the picture above) and talk your child through spelling out each image.

Alternatively, simply ask your child to use the magnetic board to spell out your ‘words of the week’. This is great for spelling homework for young child.

You’ll find that the tiles get really jumbled in the box, so your child will be scouring through looking for their letter, but that wasn’t a bother and actually is just part of the fun.

I’m also a huge fan of the storage box.

Benefits for your Child:

  • Good for Pre-Writing and Letter Recognition: If you’re working on letters and the alphabet right now but not writing, this is great for developing letter recognition.
    Great for Homework:
     Get your child to spell out their new ‘words of the week’ on the magnetic board.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Small Tiles: Note that the tiles are quite small (smaller than a scrabble tile). This didn’t bother me or my kids, but it’s something to note before buying.
  • Cardboard: Also note that the tiles are cardboard, not plastic. This means they’ll not last as long as plastic tiles – but again, it’s not a huge issue for me and didn’t impact the experience.

3. Alphabet Letter Puzzle by ‘Melissa & Doug’

Quick Review: This one’s perfect for a little on who is trying to learn the first letters of words. Perfect for pre-writing.

Best For: Pre-Writing, ages 3-5

This is a jigsaw puzzle box where your child has to match the letter to the image. Only the correct letter will match the correct image. It’s main point is to help children to recognize the first letter of a word (what we call the “onset” in phonics education).

I’d recommend this for ages 3 – 5. It really comes before spelling, so if you’re after a spelling toy, check the ones lower down in this review.

Benefits for your Child:

  • Learn first Letters of a Word: This is the first step in learning to break down words into their phonemes. I’d recommend this toy for a child who is just mastering the alphabet.
  • Self-Correcting: Only the correct letter will fit the image, so when a child makes a mistake they’ll find out without the need for excessive intervention. I’d recommend letting your child make their own mistakes so they learn through trial-and-error.
  • 52 Tiles: With 52 tiles, your child will have a lot of opportunities for practice. It also packs away nicely into a simple box.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Splinters: We didn’t have any trouble with our set, but some parents have complained that the puzzle pieces can splinter with use.

4. Word Whiz Electronic Flash Cards by ‘Learning Resources’

Quick Review: Get this for a simple spelling game the kids can play in the car. I’d keep it in the back seat of the car for whenever I’m driving.

Best For: Spelling , ages 5-6

This is a great example of gamified learning. Your child has 60 seconds to get as many words as they can. Set the ‘level’ to 3, 4 or 5 letter words. Your child will be presented with two options. They have to click one of the buttons on the left-hand side of the paddle to select the correct letter.

Benefits for your Child:

  • Addictive: It can be a really addictive way of practicing your spelling.
  • Great for Kids who Love Tech: If your child loves your phone or iPad, they may also be quickly drawn to this gamepad.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Very Simple: The game is very simple, and while affordable, your child will quickly grow out of it. It’s really best for a 5 – 6 year old child only. Also, unfortunately you can’t install your own words into it (that would be great for installing your words of the week from school).
  • Requires Batteries: You’ll need to buy 2x AA batteries.

5. Magnetic Drawing Board by ‘Hautton’

Quick Review: Great for Kindergarten when children are just being introduced to letters.

Best For: Writing, ages 4-6

Use the stylus (pen) to trace the letters. When your child runs the pen down the letters, the magnetic beads raise to the surface. The goal is to get all the beads to the surface, showing that you have traced the letter shape correctly. Then, wipe it clean and start again by rubbing your fingers across the board.

It’s a good toy for starting to learn how to write letters of the alphabet, which can be a good lead-in to the SlideWriter (my favorite writing toy).

Benefits for your Child:

  • Learn the Letters: It’s great for learning how to write and trace letters of the alphabet. With practice and exposure, children can start to remember the letter formations.
  • Say the Letter as you Trace: I would recommend getting your child to say the letter when they trace it. If they don’t do this, they might not make the connection between sound (phenome) and letter (genome) that is required for learning writing.
  • Upper and Lower Case Boards: I like that this magnetic board comes with both upper and lower case letters of the alphabet. Not many other magnetic spelling boards come with both upper and lower case.
  • Fine Motor Skills: Children need to develop fine motor skills and dexterity to successfully compose each letter.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Provide Guidance: If you don’t provide guidance and teach children how the letters connect to sounds, your child won’t “get it”. So, sit with them and help them learn!

6. SlideWriter by ‘Fisher-Price’

Quick Review: My choice as the best writing toy, this one lets you compose a word using the tiles then write it on the writing pad underneath. Great for homework practice.

Best For: Writing, ages 5-8

I love this one! I get my kids to compose their 20 ‘words of the week’ using the tiles around the writing pad. Then, for each word, I get them to write it on the pad underneath. They can clear the pad and start again for the next ‘word of the week’. It’s great!

Benefits for your Child:

  • Homework Help: I think this is the perfect tool for homework help for children ages 5 – 8.
  • Learn to Write: It’s a great tool from moving from knowledge of the alphabet to putting letters together to form words.
  • Fun while Developing Fine Motor Skills: It’s also a really enjoyable way to step up to writing words. Use letter knowledge to construct the word, then use your pen to write up the full word, practicing dexterity and fine motor skills.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Not Enough Letters: It’s so frustrating that there is only one of each letter. I can’t get children to write ‘oo’ or ‘ee’ words because there is only one ‘e’ and one ‘o’. Instead, I get them to skip that letter but remember to write it using the stylus regardless.
  • Moving Letters can be Annoying: It can also be a little frustrating accessing the letters you want, but by and large kids find this pretty fun, really.

7. Write and Learn Touch Tablet by ‘VTech’

Quick Review: A storytelling game that takes your child through an ‘adventure’ while learning upper and lower case letters.

Best For: Writing, ages 4-7

This toy walks your child through a ‘story’ that teaches them both upper and lower case letters. At each step of the way, your child needs to trace a letter to move on to the next stage of the story. It’s a pretty cool way to teach children how to write letters!

It will also tell your child whether they have done a good job when they trace the letters correctly. If they don’t, it will ask them to retry the letter.

Benefits for your Child:

  • Upper and Lower Case: Your child will be taught both upper and lower case letters as they move through the game.
  • Really Durable: It can handle the hard knocks and drops – important for a toy for kids!
  • Volume Control: I appreciated that they included a volume control option, which saves us a whole lot of annoyance in the car!
  • Fun while Developing Fine Motor Skills: It’s an enjoyable way to write letters. Practice dexterity and fine motor skills to write letters correctly.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Scribble Cheat: If your child scribbles on the screen to turn it completely black. they can pass each level. Not a big deal, but an annoying quirk.

What to Look for in Children’s Writing Toys

Play Based Learning

Play based learning is the best approach to teaching children. It helps them learn through fun, engaging sessions that keep them interested and motivated for longer. The longer you keep them on task, the more they learn – it makes sense!

Fine Motor Skills and Dexterity

When learning to spell, children need to develop fine motor skills and dexterity. It can be hard to control your hand to perfectly create letters – it takes time and practice. Any toy that encourages this practice and gives feedback on your progress is great.


‘Scaffolding’ is a word we use to talk about how we guide students by giving support as they learn. A good tool gives them guidance and support so that they are slowly introduced to new topics. That’s what I love about the SlideWriter, which bridges that gap between forming words using letter tiles and actually writing each letter of the words.

Age Appropriate

Your child will go through a lot of development when learning to spell. Each month you’ll see incremental progress. So, you need a toy that’s perfect for their developmental level. I’ve tried to indicate above what the toy is exactly right for, whether it’s learning the alphabet, learning to write letters alone, or learning to put letters together to write full words.

Final Thoughts

The best writing toys (and best spelling toys) help guide your child to learn to write and spell while also giving them a fun, play-based experience. It’s important you choose a toy that’s at the right level – whether they’re learning to read letters of the alphabet, write then, or connect them to spell words.

Once you’ve got the basics, consider getting your child toys to help with reading and toys to help with phonics.

I hope this review has helped you with your decision!

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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