Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2012
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Word Wall HD

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Cute, low-pressure games focus on multisensory pre-reading skills

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Teachers say (2 Reviews)
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Pre-K-1 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: The four games are distinct enough that most kids should find at least one appealing and engaging.

Cons: Drag-and-drop "writing" exercises aren't very interactive, and some kids may get bored quickly.

Bottom Line: Easy games serve pre-readers with a variety of learning styles, but it would benefit from more complexity and interactivity.

Teachers or parents can sign up for the (thankfully free) SmarTots service to keep track of kids' progress with the app. The virtual sticker collections should appeal to you and your students, and Word Wall HD could create some healthy competition among kids who want to collect stars (but have to complete games first to obtain them).

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Word Wall HD teaches early reading skills through colorful, creative games. Kids can choose from four games or two options to practice matching (via drag-and-drop) letters and words. The multisensory approach is based on the idea that kids should see, hear, play, and write to learn pre-reading skills. The games "See and Find," "Hide a Word," "Bubble Words," and "Jigsaw Words" are all similar to other game concepts kids may have already encountered online or off.

Kids can learn to build and recognize words through the use of word families (building many words using -am, -at, or -ug, for example) and sight words. When they succeed, kids get cute in-app stickers as rewards and a "word wall" on which to post the stickers and their favorite words.

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Word Wall's games are versatile -- easy enough for very young pre-readers to play, yet increasingly challenging for new readers further along the path to practice their skills in fun ways. As kids complete simple word-building puzzles, pull letters out of bubbles to spell words, find hidden words, and play a word-to-picture match game on Word Wall HD, they’re gaining pre-reading skills. Matching letters and word families in the Writing ABCs and Writing Words sections help kids identify words and patterns on their own. There are also cute stickers (who doesn't love stickers?) and a "word wall" for kids to collect favorite words.

Potential improvements: It would be nice to see more complexity and interactivity. For example, in the Writing ABCs activity, kids simply choose a letter and drag it onto a shaded version of the same letter; no writing (or even tracing) is involved.

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Overall Rating

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

Charming, colorful graphics should engage young players. Plus, the app should appeal to kids who have different ways of processing language; it uses a nice combination of learning approaches. 

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

The multisensory approach is based on the idea that kids should see, hear, play, and write to learn pre-reading skills. By mixing it up here, kids of all learning types should find success.

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

Kids are awarded stars for each round of a game they complete, so they can track their own progress. Teachers or parents can sign up for SmarTots to track kids' progress.

Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Kim P. , Media specialist/librarian
Media specialist/librarian
North Fairview Elementary School
Topeka, KS
Improve vocab, but beware of "free" hints

<p>This is a game of word association.</p>
<p>Words could be synonyms, antonyms, go together like a compound word, or have any type of association.</p>
<p>That is part of the challenge.</p>
<p>You must take a "wall" of words and decide what best matches.</p>
<p>For word game lovers, it will be an addictive game that they can't put down!</p>
<p>This app will help with problem solving as well as critical thinking and vocabulary building.</p>

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