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Trilo Spelling app review

trilo spelling titleIn Trilo Spelling (Swedish/American developer Trilo, June 2016; iOS only), your goal is to spell your way to a story. As Spooka the ghost explains, correct answers in a variety of spelling games will earn you fuel for your plane. Then you can fly around the app’s island setting, gathering puzzle pieces which come together to form a story.

Spooka and her pals Frank, a monster, and Sling, a one-eyed mummy, appear throughout offering encouragement (and occasional “oopsies”) and star in the puzzle-stories. They’re not scary, just a little bizarre, so if you like Halloween but don’t like being too creeped out, these friendly creatures might add some appeal.

At the beginning of the app, you can choose your level; there’s also an “increasing levels” option. Intended for grades K­–2, the levels are divided based on specific skills, from spelling three-letter words with short vowel sounds (Level 1) to spelling words with final blends (Level 5). The games within each level approach spelling in several ways. In one type of game, you simply choose letters to spell a word that’s both spoken aloud and pictured. You can tap the picture to hear the word again, and you’ll hear the sounds that letters make as you tap them, whether or not they’re the correct letters.

trilo spelling spell

In another type of game, you do basically the same thing, but speed is a factor: your goal is to complete each word before Sling flies across the screen in the plane. A third type is more about reading than spelling — it asks you to choose which image (of six) matches the word on the screen. (In this game, the sounds of the letters or blends are spoken out loud as they appear, but the word itself is not pronounced until matched with the correct image.)

trilo spelling match picture

The stories — formed by collecting puzzle pieces, each relating one snippet of the narrative — are a little convoluted, probably a result of the format. Thus, the characters and their small adventures don’t add much in the way of motivation to complete games and find out what happens next. Still, the games themselves (developed with feedback from elementary school English teachers and their students) provide good practice in phonics. The levels are so specific that each one thoroughly reinforces a particular skill in a non-scary way…even if there are ghosts and monsters.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 6.0 or later); $4.99. Recommended for primary users.

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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