Common Sense


Tech to Build Vocabulary

Gaining new vocabulary is necessary for fluid reading and writing, and students need early, often, and sustained exposure to words that expand their horizons. These great apps and websites for vocabulary do just that, getting words in front of students in engaging ways, and giving students supports to understand definitions, uses, and meanings. Use these vocabulary tools to help students build word knowledge with the tech-enabled help of audio supports, flash cards, context, and clever gameplay. There are also resources for teachers to craft activities, lessons, and assessments to keep kids' vocabulary skills on track.

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Top Picks


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Beck and Bo

Drag-and-drop adventure great for learning new words in context

Bottom line: Your wee one will enjoy animating Beck and Bo's world while developing creativity and logic.

Endless Wordplay: School Edition

Rhymes, phonetic approach, silly animations help kids construct words

Bottom line: Good, holistic approach to the nitty gritty of constructing words.

Montessorium: Intro to Words

Well-crafted app lets emerging readers and writers develop reading skills through word building

Bottom line: Basic reading skills are developed through word building, word play, and letter-sound recognition.

Noodle Words HD - Action Set 1

Words become toys in this playful yet powerful vocab-learning game

Bottom line: The words are presented in such a fun way that many kids will play with this app numerous times, helping the words stick.

Oh Noah!

Comforting character makes second-language mistakes no big deal

Bottom line: Oh Noah! provides a solid start in Spanish while building self-confidence and relaxing kids through humor.


Schoolhouse Rock meets Tupac in this delightful hip-hop-based platform

Bottom line: Flocabulary has the goods: It's savvy enough to keep kids focused, and teachers will be tapping their toes to the unorthodox learning method.

ReadWorks Digital

Research-based site makes it easy to assign, differentiate readings

Bottom line: An effective digital reinvention of the trusted ReadWorks platform that makes it simple to distribute and track high-quality reading assignments.

Osmo Words

Versatile word game challenges across content areas and abilities

Bottom line: Fun game-like way to review spelling or content vocabulary.

Spaceteam ESL

Chaotic game offers silly yet novel way to practice English vocab

Bottom line: An irresistibly fun way for ELLs to practice high-frequency English vocabulary, but as an app it's a bit rough around the edges.

Word Dynamo

Word lists, games add fun and flexibility to dictionary experience

Bottom line: Word Dynamo is an easy-to-use vocabulary-building app that works with a wide range of skill levels.

Words With Friends EDU

Super-fun school version introduces preset list of academic words

Bottom line: Kids can have fun learning new words, though it'll probably take more to really cement these terms into vocabulary.

Word Runners - Touch Press Games

Clever combo of vocab and puzzle solving is a tad limited

Bottom line: Stories cleverly integrate reading comprehension and problem-solving skills within the engaging context of an adventure-themed puzzle.

Roots to Words

Baked-in vocab-building with Greek and Latin roots

Bottom line: Getting to the root of words creates a healthy vocabulary.


Scrabble meets Choose Your Own Adventure in a dueling of (s)words

Bottom line: While it could use more gameplay variety, students will enjoy this game's Adventure Time-inspired take on vocabulary and spelling.

World's Worst Pet - Vocabulary

Hip games help kids learn words they'll actually use

Bottom line: Learn the meaning of vocabulary words through fun games, and put it to good use as part of everyday conversation.


Deep, data-driven vocabulary tool challenges learners

Bottom line: Membean has the potential to push students and grow their vocabulary while providing teachers with data they'll love.

W.E.L.D.E.R. Swap

Mashup of Boggle and Candy Crush gets kids forming new words

Bottom line: Students, especially word geeks, will dig this strategic game, but it's unclear how much it'll impact learning.

Grade 6 Vocab Audios and Pics

Quirky cartoons, great audio features bring fun to vocab study

Bottom line: An okay tool for vocab study; look elsewhere for better progress tracking and more kid-friendly animation.

Ink Blott Underground

Strategic vocab game gets students digging into roots and affixes

Bottom line: This is a win for building vocabulary and word attack skills, but teachers need to provide context and additional instruction to make learning last.


Level up with gamified vocabulary study for middle and high school

Bottom line: While it's got room to grow, this is a tool worth considering for practicing vocabulary based on Greek and Latin roots.

Wordflex Touch Dictionary

Amazing interactive visual dictionary makes exploring words exciting

Bottom line: Dynamic, highly visual presentation makes learning new words exciting.

Smart, stylish site helps students commit new words to memory

Bottom line: It's a great, goal-oriented learning resource with the potential to turn vocab lessons into a fun challenge.

SAT Vocab by MindSnacks

Variety is key in charmingly effective SAT vocab app

Bottom line: Upgrading to the full version gets you great games and a thorough word list for SAT vocab prep.

SAT Word Slam

Creative SAT prep mixes humor with well-researched word lists

Bottom line: Laughing while learning proves effective for learning words in this witty vocab app.

Visual Thesaurus

Watch words branch out into intriguing, layered language maps

Bottom line: With such a great visual take on the depth of language, more ways to personalize the experience would make it even better.


Kids wrestle challenging words in fun, fighting-themed SAT-prep game

Bottom line: Tournament-style play motivates kids to stick with vocab practice.

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