Common Sense Review
Updated June 2012

Word Wagon - by Duck Duck Moose

Charming objects and animals turn spelling into play
Common Sense Rating 3
  • Levels 1 and 2 include shaded boxes to show kids where to match letters.
  • Progress is only recorded during each play session.
  • Levels 3 and 4 include longer words with more difficult letter combinations.
  • Kids can choose to work on words by categories, such as animals or number, or all at once.
Pros
Colorful images are paired with words, spelling hints, and fun rewards.
Cons
Kids hear the same introductory story each play session, and the app doesn't track user progress between sessions.
Bottom Line
Word Wagon is fun to use with students at various spelling skill levels.
Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Engaging, colorful, whimsical animations and solid educational content that's easy to grasp while still being fun for the youngest readers and spellers.

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

Kids learn to spell through matching, a rewards system, and increasingly difficult levels that ultimately remove all visual and audio clues and leave them to spell words on their own.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

For each word they spell, kids earn a sticker. Every three correct spellings earns them a chance to play a connect-the-stars constellation game. The app doesn't keep track of progress from session to session. 

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers may want to make a list of some of the more difficult sight words included on this app and introduce them to students before they play on Word Wagon. Since there's no progress tracking and kids start from scratch on each level every time they play, this app is likely most fun and least frustrating as an occasional supplement to other early spelling activities that are more organized and progress-oriented. Or consider making your own simple chart- or card-based progress tracking system for kids to use in conjunction with Word Wagon. This way, kids get the opportunity for repetition in spelling the included words, as well as a beginning exercise in record-keeping.

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What's It Like?

Word Wagon - by Duck Duck Moose is a phonics and spelling app designed for pre-readers or emerging readers. Letters within words are initially pronounced as the letter name, then phonetically. As a little mouse and bird bop along, kids can tap any items -- such as vehicles, colors, or animals -- that pass by on the bottom of the screen and move letter boxes into place to spell them. This colorful app includes four levels on which kids can either see the silhouettes of the letters in place or try to spell the word without any such hints. For each word they spell, kids win an animated sticker for their virtual sticker book. Correct spellings earn them a chance to play a connect-the-stars constellation game. Word Wagon does not keep track of progress from session to session.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Kids can learn about letters, phonics, and spelling with Word Wagon. Teachers or kids can choose one of four progressively more difficult levels: letters, phonics, and spelling of short and longer words. As words are completed, the narrator spells them phonetically and the corresponding letters are shown with highlights around them. The app includes 103 words (44 Dolch sight words) in topics such as animals, transportation, and food. Some sight word choices, like shoe and tractor, include phonetic combinations that aren't well-suited to beginners on this app because it may be confusing when the narrator separates the sounds by combinations that they may not yet know (pronouncing "er" when highlighting the "or" in tractor, for example). Still, the option to choose Levels 1 through 4 makes Word Wagon a good fit for kids at different skill levels. The colorful sticker-collecting feature and the bonus constellation game are fun and rewarding.

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