Review by Sandy Wisneski, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2019


K-2 literacy program offers comprehensive, adaptive activities

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

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Pros: Focused design. Great skills coverage. Offers student-driven, adaptive learning with at-a-glance data.

Cons: Activities could use text instructions and better modeling. More support videos would help. No placement test (yet).

Bottom Line: An easy-to-recommend tool thanks to its broad coverage of key skills and nice balance of student-driven and teacher-differentiated learning.

Lalilo will complement any literacy program, since it focuses on essential literacy skills like sight words, word families, and letter-sound recognition. The software is web-based and easy to set up, and can be accessed through most devices. It's a good option for either reading centers or whole-class lessons. It's versatile, so teachers can assign specific lessons or let students follow the built-in progression. Either way, teachers will want to monitor students' growth and progress and intervene or supplement play as necessary. Teachers might also model some of the initial activities for students, to help them understand the basic interactions. Thankfully, once students get going, Lalilo offers consistent feedback and reinforcement to help them work away at their own pace.  

Teachers can use the dashboard to view how students are doing on individual skills and literacy components, and then use that data to group students for additional instruction and lesson planning. Teachers can also share a code for additional at-home practice and/or share printable reports to keep parents in the loop.

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Lalilo is a web-based literacy app for K-2 teachers. It aims to provide comprehensive coverage of early literacy skills and personalized and differentiated instruction. Students click through adaptive lessons while teachers use a dashboard to monitor whole-class and individual student progress on a range of literacy skills. The program has a clean, focused visual style that feels more contemporary than some other competitors -- although it's also not quite as playful and game-based as others. Students journey through different worlds and meet cartoon characters. Along the way, they complete activities, read books, and progress on a well-structured learning path. As students progress, Lalilo leans on artificial intelligence to offer students the targeted exercises and repeat things as necessary. 

Lalilo does an excellent job of data reporting, making it easy to track and record progress as well as sort and group students. There are even printable reports that are elegant and easy to understand, with a nice section on areas for improvement. Another strength of Lalilo is its comprehensiveness. The scope and sequence is thorough and benefits from focusing intently on K-2. There's extensive coverage of every letter sound and word family, and students also get practice reading stories. This makes it an easy fit for classrooms in this range because teachers can trust that it's covering what needs covering. The flexible personalization -- assigning specific lessons or letting students work through the built-in learning progression -- is also an easy sell to teachers. Ultimately, though, Lalilo's success hinges on its adaptive exercises and how well it adjusts to students' strengths and weaknesses. This is tough to evaluate in the course of a review, and will require some testing on the part of teachers to see if it's truly effective. It's likely teachers will need to monitor student progress closely and intervene as necessary to make sure students are getting just-right content. The repetition within exercises is effective, however.

There's clearly an effort in the activities themselves to make them visually appealing but not distracting. This is an advantage Lalilo has over competitors who focus more on creating the appearance of fun than on providing actual learning engagement. Still, there are some issues with the activities. They lean heavily on audio-based instruction and could benefit from textual reinforcement and more pre-modeling of the activities. The interactivity is also basic, and the program as a whole could use some more inventive activities -- or even just creative breaks. The stories offer variety, but they're written by Lalilo, so don't expect recognizable characters or authors. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students travel through different worlds, playing games, collecting stars, and unlocking stories.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Students work through self-paced, adaptive exercises in phonics, word recognition, and comprehension. Lessons dig deep on K-2 skills and follow up with reading activities.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

It's easy to set up, and students should find it easy to navigate and use. There's plenty of data for monitoring student growth and progress and adjusting as needed. Activities could use better scaffolding and textual support.

Common Sense Reviewer
Sandy Wisneski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 120 reviews) (120 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Heather S. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Mead Elementary Charter School
Wisconsin Rapids, United States
Lalilo Fun for Firsties
I love having this as a resource to use with my students. They have expanded their skills as they use the program and are still excited to go on every day. The only issue I have come across is that the teacher display that shows what the students have mastered or are still working on is a bit annoying to navigate. It is also really awesome to see that they value of student input. They give the students a chance to vote for their favorite world when creating new levels. This time they also gave th ...
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