Common Sense Review
Updated September 2013

Word Joust for K-5

An honorable quest to conquer vocabulary
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 2
  • Each quest introduces 5 words.
  • In Cohorts, kids choose the word that matches the definition.
  • Labyrinth of Letters is quite challenging as many words are reverse diagonal.
  • Hangman is classic fun, but the cartoon victim is haunting.
Pros
Abundance of relevant grade-level words.
Cons
Re-use of the same definitions limits the transfer of word usage.
Bottom Line
Fun knight-themed games let kids enjoy playing and learning.
Amanda Bindel
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

The quest theme draws kids in. Fun games keep them playing.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Encountering the words in different games helps solidify learning, but memorizing the same definition for each encounter does not give much depth or transfer knowledge.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Games are intuitive, so not much help is needed. Excellent data tracking for mastered words and words still being learned ("apprenticed"), as well as for times and scores.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Since there's no way to have multiple users on each device, Word Joust for K-5 would work best in a 1-to-1 environment. Teachers can't customize word lists, but the words chosen are commonly encountered in grade-level reading and would be excellent practice for ELL. For general use, it'd be a fun daily or weekly exercise for kids to practice vocabulary and work their brains independently.

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What's It Like?

Kids become knaves in a medieval joust where they can enter quests and learn vocabulary from a list of 300 age-appropriate words, or train by playing games with the words they've encountered in their quests. Each quest includes five unrelated words. Kids spend a moment studying each word and definition, and are then tested with one of the games. Points decrease as time goes by, with fast, correct responses earning 15 points and slower responses earning fewer points, down to 5. Incorrect answers do not get a second chance.

Games include "Scramble" (unscrambling mixed-up words), "Troll Trickery" (matching word to definition), L"abyrinth of Letters" (a word search that is quite challenging), "Cohorts of Swords" (identifying the correct word as it crosses the screen), and "Hangman," which is played with a cartoon man being hung rather than a stick figure. In Training mode, kids can choose which game to play to practice words from their quest lists. Kids move up from infantryman to archer and so on. Mastered words and apprenticed words (those introduced but not yet mastered in the games) can be reviewed in Stats, and there's also a Global Leaderboard.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Word Joust for K-5 is a fun way for kids to practice word skills and develop their vocabularies. The mix of five games is varied enough that kids can practice different skills and use their brains in different ways. Kindergarten through fifth grade is a broad age range, though; third through fifth may be more appropriate for the challenge of the games and playing against time. Younger readers may get too bogged down with just trying to read the moving words and miss retaining the vocabulary. The words are compiled from lists of frequently used words in children's literature and American textbooks, including good, big, cow, far, jumped, stand, book, eyes, stopped, and laughed.

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