Review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2012
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Word A Day Visuals and Audios by VocabAhead

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Cool multimedia approach to daily vocab study slightly limited

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

  • Critical Thinking
Grades 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.
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Pros: Cartoon graphics are engaging, and the content is presented through video and audio.

Cons: Limited content with few customization options gets repetitive and is sometimes socially questionable.

Bottom Line: Word A Day exposes teens to challenging vocabulary words with plenty of helpful context.

Word A Day Visuals and Audios is one in a series of vocabulary-building apps from VocabAhead. Meant for teens who may be studying for the SAT or looking to expand vocab skills, it gives kids a chance to learn in a few different ways. Quirky cartoons depict each word, and audio recordings present "short stories" or usage examples at the touch of a button.

The main menu allows teens to view favorites (in some versions of the app) or select the daily word. For the word acclivity, which is defined as an upward slope (as of ground), a young man is shown at the bottom of a steep grade on his bike, with cartoonish sweat or anxiety lines emanating from his head. If kids select the audio button (right arrow), a narrator reads the definition and usage text (though usage text does not display). Selecting the heart symbol with the plus adds words to favorites (in some versions of the app). Kids swipe left and right for other available words.


Graphics are crisp, navigation is intuitive, and the fully formed, coherent audio feature is great for teens who struggle with reading or have other learning challenges. Entries also feature spot-on definitions and parts of speech, sometimes left out of competing products.

Even with all these great features, nothing's perfect. As with other VocabAhead products, settings don't always seem to work, and the cartoons or "short stories" are sometimes a bit questionable, as in the case of the word uxorious, (meaning excessively devoted or submissive to one's wife): "... No one knew why [Glen] spent so much time doting on her because she wasn't really a nice person and certainly wasn't attractive." Yeah, it illustrates the definition, but the message is troubling.

Overall Rating

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

Design is nearly flawless. Cartoons and audio teach while entertaining, but saving favorites is not quite enough to keep kids fully engaged. The quizzes in the iOS version are a boost.

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

The multimedia approach reinforces learning and is particularly important for kids with auditory or visual learning styles. More activities and better customization options could extend learning.

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

There's no tutorial, but navigating the app is fairly intuitive. Some extension activities would give the app a boost.

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