App review by Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2013
Thesaurus Rex By Dictionary.com
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Thesaurus Rex By Dictionary.com

Digital reference tool helps kids spice up their writing

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Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Grades
4–12 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, English-Language Learning, Communication & Collaboration

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Pros: Kids can sort words by relevance, word length, and complexity.

Cons: Using special features such as rhymes, syllable counts, and examples requires in-app purchases.

Bottom Line: This digital tool definitely trumps a traditional thesaurus, but some of the best features require in-app purchases.

Thesaurus Rex can definitely help your students spice up their writing, but its use isn't limited to individual writing tasks. You could use it as part of a larger lesson on word choice, having the class come up with ways to spice up examples of dull writing. It may also have a place in general vocabulary instruction; you can encourage students to look up vocabulary words in the app to help them gain a better understanding of the meanings.

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Just like with a regular thesaurus, in Thesaurus Rex, kids look up a particular word and receive a list of synonyms. Unlike a regular thesaurus, however, the synonyms come organized by relevance. If seeing words sorted by relevance isn't enough, kids can also narrow their search results by word length and complexity. As kids skim the lists of words, they can see a short definition for each word and hear an audio pronunciation as well. In-app purchases unlock additional features, allowing kids to use the app to find rhyming words and sort words by syllable count or see examples of words used in sentences. When they find words they like, they can save them for quick reference later.

No matter what students are writing, Thesaurus Rex can help them improve. The app encourages kids to think beyond simply adding a few big words to their writing and encourages them to choose words that fit the overall tone and meaning of the piece. The short definitions that accompany the words help kids quickly determine whether the synonyms will fit, as do the examples available through the Examples & Tips upgrade. For kids working on more creative pieces, such as poems and songs, the audio pronunciation feature helps them hear whether the word fits the overall tone of the piece and the Rhymes & Syllables upgrade helps them find the perfect words to keep their overall rhythm and flow.

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?

No flashy graphics or sound effects here; it's focused solely on helping kids find the perfect words for their writing.

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?

Search results sort words by relevance, word length, and complexity. Words come accompanied by their definitions and audio pronunciations.

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?

A YouTube tutorial highlights the features of the app. Upgrades allow kids to search by syllable count and rhyming words, as well as see examples and tips.


Common Sense reviewer
Stacy Zeiger Homeschooling parent

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