Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2014

Vocabulary A-Z

Vocabulary lessons a great resource for teachers, not for kids

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: Helps teachers easily put together creative vocabulary lessons for new word exploration.

Cons: All vocabulary activities are done offline -- complementary interactive content for kids would be a nice addition.

Bottom Line: Useful cross-curricular vocabulary resource for teachers includes classroom games and activities, but no digital content for students.

You can present activities as unique, standalone vocabulary units, or you can insert them into your existing units on any curricular topic. For example, if teaching about the French Revolution, a history teacher could easily include vocabulary activities that cover some of the content specific vocabulary to help scaffold instruction. The site has such a wide variety of available words that it would be easy to add a vocabulary dimension to most learning units.

Every list generates a 20+ page lesson plan with a variety of activities, including several interactive games and a variety of flash card types. You could photocopy flash cards for every student, choose games that are appropriate for your class, or make your own additions. Use the multiple choice question generator to build quick assessments easily. Be sure to look through the automatically generated lesson plans to find the activities that work best for you and your students.

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Vocabulary A-Z is a teacher's helper, not an online learning site for kids. The site generates lesson plans to help teachers introduce and reinforce vocabulary words. Teachers can make lists from the over 13,000 available words organized by category: parts of speech, arts, math, music, science, Common Core words, sight words, high frequency words, and more. Words are further divided into three tiers based on grade level: K-1, 2-5, 6 and up.

Once teachers have made a list of up to 24 words, the site generates a 5-day teaching plan in PDF format. Lessons explore word meaning and context through flash cards, fill-in-the-blank sentences, multiple choice questions, and analogies, among other word-related activities. Teachers can also generate multiple choice assessment quizzes, browse pre-made lessons, search for specific words, add their own words, or watch how-to webinars.

As a teacher resource, Vocabulary A-Z offers creative and unique ways to teach new words, doing most of the planning work for teachers. All teachers need do is compile a list -- they'll get all sorts of games and activities to use in class with their students. As a big plus, activities present vocabulary learning as not just about memorization, but about engaging and experimenting with new words. Often, activities also introduce related concepts, like a parts-of-speech exploration.

However, given the wide grade range covered and the relative consistency among lesson plans, not all activities will always be age-appropriate. First graders might have trouble understanding analogies, and 8th graders might tire of drawing pictures after a time. If teachers are looking for an online space where kids can explore vocabulary words, this isn't it. Nevertheless, it's still a useful tool for teachers. Digital features for students -- like word exploration tools -- as well as progress-tracking tools for teachers would be nice additions.

Overall Rating

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

Some offline activities may be more fun and engaging than others, though this depends on how teachers present material and which activities they decide to use.

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

The teachers' resources here lead kids in a variety of vocabulary activities, on words' meanings as well as context. Kids will use their new vocabulary in pencil-and-paper tasks, with flash cards, and in non-digital games.

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

Generates lesson plans that get kids to engage with vocabulary in a variety of ways, appealing to many learning styles. There's no online assessment or tracking for kids, but teachers can save their vocabulary lists.

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Crissy W. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Village of Barboursville Elementary School
Barboursville, United States
Great supplement to vocabulary instruction
This is an easy to implement vocabulary program that requires little preparation. I like that is user friendly and can be used weekly for a vocabulary routine. Additionally, it is not just words and definitions. The practice pages include analogies, sentence completion, and application to check for deeper understanding.
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