Website review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2014

Vocabulary A-Z

Vocabulary lessons a great resource for teachers, not for kids

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Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts

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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


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.


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.


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.

Common Sense reviewer
Mieke VanderBorght Researcher

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Featured review by
D C. , Homeschooling parent
Homeschooling parent
Too bad they made changes
Not as good as the Spelling City version. All was going smoothly with transition until they changed the practice test element. My students did the practice test daily before games. Previously, they could then quiz on the words they missed. Then they changed it. Our test averages were 95%-100% prior to the change. My student's grades plummeted after that. After change, 75%, with two tests needing to be retaken (even lower than 75%). Quarterly average went from a consistent 98% down to 90% (only ...
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