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Spelling Shed

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Spelling Shed App Poster Image
Solid spelling drills miss the mark in accuracy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can practice their spelling through built-in or custom lists.

Ease of Play

Mini-games lack directions, prompts require reading skills, and kids using lower-grade spelling lists will have trouble with the "Bee Keeper" game.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spelling Shed is a spelling drill app. With no introduction and no audio option for prompts and instructions, young kids will struggle to use this independently. The Bee Keeper game is a hangman-style spelling activity which is difficult to play with words that are three or four letters. There are simply too many options for letter combinations. Kids can choose between several English spelling lists (Australia, Ireland, United States, etc.), but the spelling and words on the American English list aren't all appropriate/correct. Kids will be confused by terms like "mum" and "chemist" and likely won't recognize "merriment" and "plainness." While some of the spellings have been translated properly (color vs. colour), others are not (co-operate, co-ordinate). The lists contain a number of proper nouns like "Superman" and "Kent," which aren't commonly on spelling lists in the United States. Parents can make their own lists, but they can't use spaces (such as "New Hampshire" for a list of state names), and they can't add any sort of definition or sentence to help clarify with homonyms. It does use a dyslexia-friendly font. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

SPELLING SHED is a spelling drill experience geared at elementary school students. Kids choose from three stages, or reading levels. They can practice spelling or play the Bee Keeper game. The practice rounds have four levels. At the basic level, kids hear the word and see it on screen. They are then given all of the letters, which they have to tap in order to spell the word. The levels get increasingly difficult and by the end, kids only hear the word before having to spell it. Words that may be confusing have sentence prompts, such as "Seen, as in something you saw." Bee Keeper is a hangman-style game with multiple rounds. Parents can create custom lists, but cannot add prompts to clarify words. There are leaderboards for schools, but not for individuals.

Is it any good?

This will do a fine job of drilling spelling words, as long as parents or teachers are willing to create custom lists and they involve no spaces or homonyms. If you ignore the flaws in the American English spelling lists, Spelling Shed does an OK job at drilling spelling words. It's not that much better than interactive flashcards, but it's not worse, either. It would be helpful to have a game other than hangman, which is very difficult when you're drilling short words. Is it top? hop? pop? mop? bop? lop? You get the idea. The other spelling drill is more appropriate, but it would be nice if kids had more than one chance to spell a word correctly since it's supposed to be a practice round. If kids get a word wrong, Spelling Shed simply shows them the correct spelling and moves on. It seems geared toward classroom use and would likely shine more in that environment. Teachers could explain the app to the classroom at once and create custom lists to practice their current spelling words. In truth, though, there are more engaging and user-friendly spelling options for home use. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about homonyms in Spelling Shed and outside the app. What are some examples of words that have the same spelling, but more than one meaning? What are examples of words that sound the same, but are spelled differently?

  • Families can talk about learning with apps. Do you think this is a good app for learning? Why or why not? What can you learn? 

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For kids who love spelling and recognizing words

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