App review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2015
Curious Words
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Curious Words

One word, one second, unlimited creativity

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Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Grades
K–3 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Creativity, Communication & Collaboration
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Pros: Forces fast, creative thinking in a non-threatening, fun space.

Cons: There's no way to customize or add word lists.

Bottom Line: One word sparks creativity in super-short videos.

Curious Words is open-ended enough that creative teachers can find lots of ways to inspire creativity in their students. It's designed for 6- to 8-year olds, but older students could get very creative making movies in class. Younger elementary students could demonstrate the meaning of a given word -- either chosen by the teacher or on their own. Students could work together in pairs or trios to decide how to represent each word and take turns shooting the short video footage.

Middle and high school language arts classes could have fun creating visual poems, exploring the symbolism of each word through the video clips students take. Teachers could introduce symbolism and then have students work alone or in small groups to choose three related words, plan how to visually represent each word, and then shoot the video to share. Any teacher who wants to integrate three-minute creativity warm-ups or brain breaks into their classes could use Curious Words to get kids thinking creatively and get them creating.

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Curious Words makes one-second videos, inspired by a single word, and pieces them together into a video up to 12 seconds long. It's similar to Vine, but for kids and with words to inspire them. There are no in-app sharing options, but kids can save their videos to the camera roll and share them from there.

On launch, the app opens right up to view mode, ready for action. With the camera in view mode, kids see a word on-screen. They can swipe to choose another word or double-tap to scroll through a full list of word choices. Kids then record a one-second video inspired by the word. After the second is up, another word appears for another video inspiration. Each video shot (kids can record a minimum of three and maximum of 12) is pieced together into one movie, with background music automatically placed. Kids can view their movie, then add to it if they want or save it to the camera roll.

Nothing detracts from kids' creativity in this simple, easy-to-use video creator. The interface is sleek -- which means no instructions -- but digital natives who have grown up with touch screens and phone cameras will have no problem getting started. The single word inspirations are read aloud, so even emerging readers will be able to play. Swiping one direction changes the voice that reads the words -- from man, woman, and child voices. Kids will need to be ready to go, focused on what they want to record before they hit the record button -- one second goes fast! The only negative: At the time of review, the app only works in portrait mode.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Simple design leaves nothing to distract from kids' imaginations. Kids get to chose what to record.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Some parameters -- limiting the length of video and how many can be included -- add to the challenge. Otherwise, kids are free to be creative in how they interpret each given word.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Since there are minimal instructions, kids will explore to figure out how to manipulate the settings. They can change the voice and scroll through words by swiping in certain directions.


Common Sense reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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