App review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2013
Word Joust For K-5
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Word Joust for K-5

An honorable quest to conquer vocabulary

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Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 1 review
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Grades
2–5 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, Critical Thinking

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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.

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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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.

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.

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?

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

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?

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 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?

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.


Common Sense reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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Featured review by
Lisa B. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Alexander Valley School
Healdsburg, United States
Little engagment -- just memorize a few vocabulary words
I stopped using the app after trying it out for two weeks. The app has a great name and I was hoping it would be more interactive. However the app just gives the child 5 vocabulary words with definitions. After that they give a definition and they have to click on the word it goes with as it goes across the screen. So basically the student needs to memorize the word for about 1 min before they have to use it. I think boring old flash cards would be better!
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