Website review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2022

Merriam-Webster

Games, articles, word play make for more than just a dictionary

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Grades
3–12
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, English-Language Learning

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Pros: Trending articles cleverly use current events to highlight new vocabulary.

Cons: No teacher tools, and with ads and lots of features, students may get easily distracted.

Bottom Line: This is a great reference site for students to casually play around with language, test their knowledge, or explore to discover something new.

Besides using Merriam-Webster as a reference tool, teachers can guide students to explore the guides, articles, and games. Set up a friendly competition to see which student (or small group) can correctly name the most dog breeds. Test students' knowledge of different forms of government. Students can stay on top of current events by reading some of the trending articles and digging deeper into the cultural or political event being referenced. Subscribe to get the word of the day, or check out the weekly vocabulary lists for kids. Teachers can then challenge students to incorporate the new word or words in as many ways as they can. And, usage guides for grammar, punctuation, and commonly confused words and phrases are a great reference point for teachers to help students use language correctly. The word games on Merriam-Webster could also be a good option for bellringers or to fill gaps of time during or between lessons. Note that there are ads, which is always a consideration for the classroom.

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Overall Rating

Engagement

Looking up definitions has limited potential for excitement. But lots of extras like word games, timely articles, and silly word play help spice things up.

Pedagogy

Clearly students can learn the definitions, origins, and pronunciation of words -- as well as synonyms and antonyms. Articles and games challenge students' grasp of the English language.

Support

This is mostly a reference site, so not many learning supports. But, it's easy to navigate. An audio button lets users hear words out loud. Create a free account to save game scores.


Common Sense reviewer
Mieke VanderBorght Researcher

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