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Word Tag: Epic Adventure Game
Pros: Vocabulary activities build on previous ones to provide a variety of ways for students to interact with new words.
Cons: Lots of gaps between learning content, which feels secondary to the adventure elements. Teachers can't input word lists.
Bottom Line: Students may find the game fun, but teachers will need to supplement with other vocabulary activities and may object to the focus on tagging.
Use Word Tag: Epic Adventure Game as a fun supplement to other vocabulary activities. With its focus on gaming, this app may work best as an option for students who have some downtime and need to fill it with something lightly educational. Since students play with their own profile, it may be easier if they each have their own device. Teachers could consider having students play in pairs or small groups (each with their own profile and device) and setting up some friendly competitions to encourage motivation for learning vocabulary words. Teachers may consider reviewing the game's word lists and incorporating those words in off-screen activities too.
Word Tag: Epic Adventure Game is a free app that aims to teach vocabulary words to elementary- and middle school-aged kids. Simple, word-related activities are interspersed throughout a virtual gaming world. Students explore different settings as they collect word stencils and cans of spray paint so that they can "tag" the words on a wall. They also complete tasks related to using those words in context. For example, in one task students have to collect stacks of magazines hidden throughout the game setting and then choose the correct word to finish a sentence. Beware of the street cleaners, which will take away all the spray paint cans. As students play, they collect stars, which they can use to buy items in multiple virtual stores. Keep playing to level up to different settings, and review collected words at any time from the main menu. Students can invite other players to join them in the virtual space to play together. A single download can support up to four player profiles. Five levels of difficulty determine the words students interact with; when creating a new profile, indicate the player's birth year to place them in the appropriate difficulty level. There's a teacher guide on the developer's website, though it contains mostly promotional information.
Studying words to increase vocabulary can be dry and tedious, so Word Tag: Epic Adventure Game gets credit for trying to make it fun. The game is rich and full of complexity -- and features great graphics. Unfortunately, there's so much game going on, it can take kids quite a while to get to the vocabulary part. And when kids get there, the vocabulary-related activities tend to be short, rote, and superficial. For example, learning activities ask students to simply read the word's definition, or pick a word from a list of four to complete one sentence. Then kids are back in the game mechanics, looking for the next multistep task to complete. It's a plus that word activities build on each other -- first the definition, then using in a sentence, and so on -- which is a nice way to introduce and reinforce new vocabulary. That's a start, but teachers shouldn't expect it to be enough. Another aspect to be aware of is that with the theme of graffiti tagging and avoiding the street cleaners, the game seems to glorify rebellious activity, which may rub some the wrong way. If there were more word-related activities embedded into the game, if kids could control the spray painting to help learn the words, and if teachers could input words they're teaching, Word Tag would be an even stronger free option.