Website review by Ana Beltran, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2022

Vocabulary A-Z

Handy, time-saving vocab lessons offer varied practice

Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 6 reviews
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Grades
K–5
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts

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Pros: Auto-generates activities for word exploration. Reports support real-time decision-making.

Cons: Teachers will need to discern which games are age-appropriate.

Bottom Line: This resource, while not necessarily innovative, helps streamline the planning and delivery of vocabulary lessons.

Vocabulary A-Z offers online and offline activities for spelling and vocabulary practice, including game-based activities that get students building key phonics skills. 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 matter in a science lesson, a teacher could include vocabulary activities that cover some of the content specific vocabulary. The site has such a wide variety of available words that it'd be easy to add a vocabulary portion to most learning units. 

Teachers can design their own lessons or assign something premade. Since everything is customizable, it's easy to differentiate. Printable resources can be used for the whole class, during small group instruction, or to target individual students. These printable resources include lessons plans, word lists, activities, worksheets, and assessments. Vocabulary A-Z offers different worksheet formats, making the content accessible for a range of readers and writers. The game-based activities lend themselves perfectly for centers or independent spelling and vocabulary practice. These can even be assigned as homework. The auto-generated parent letters walk families through accessing games from home. There are a range of games and activities to choose from, some focus more on vocabulary, while others emphasize phonics and spelling. Be sure to look through the auto-generated lesson plans to find the activities that work best for you and your students.

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Vocabulary A-Z has lesson plans and worksheets to help teachers introduce and reinforce spelling and vocabulary. 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: tier one includes basic words, tier two includes frequently used words, and tier three is composed of specialized words. Teachers can either browse the alphabetical lists, search for specific words, or add their own. 

Once teachers have made a list of up to 30 words, the site generates printable and digital resources for studying. The printable resources include a five-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. It also generates a multiple-choice assessment. When assigning digital activities, teachers can choose what students work through, opt for auto-sequenced activities, or let students choose. Choices include phonics, spelling, and vocabulary activities. The gamified practice includes incentives; students earn points for completing online assignments which can then be redeemed for to customize students' avatars, rockets, and backgrounds. Teachers can manage students' logins, create groups, control incentives, and see reports that show student activity, assignment results, and progress. Teachers can also browse pre-made lessons, watch how-to webinars, and download sharable parent letters. 

As a teacher resource, Vocabulary A-Z offers unique and varied ways to teach new words, while doing most of the planning work. All teachers need do is compile a list then they'll get all sorts of games and activities to use in class with their students. One big plus is that the activities present vocabulary learning as not just about memorization, but about engaging and experimenting with new words. Often, activities will introduce related concepts, like a parts-of-speech exploration. Adding another layer of appeal, the games reinforce phonics, spelling, and vocabulary. The games, while rudimentary, are simple to navigate and offer built in supports, like on demand instructions, making them a good option for independent practice, learning centers, or homework. 

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 5th graders might tire of drawing pictures after a time. Although students can access help while practicing online, some game just feature limited to instructions rather than meaningful feedback to clarify concepts, build meaning, or help kids become unstuck. This could encourage random guessing, possibly frustrating learners. Nevertheless, Vocabulary A-Z still a useful tool for teachers because it streamlines planning, providing tailored digital and printable learning games and resources while surfacing data from student online activity. Reports offer insight on student growth in grammar and mechanics, vocabulary and word work, and comprehension. This info can easily be used to create groups, design future instruction, and communicate progress with families. 

Overall Rating

Engagement

Some activities will be more fun and engaging than others; games are a nice break, but not very playful. Teachers can effectively vary activities, and tailor words to content.

 

Pedagogy

Students gain knowledge of words' meanings as well as context. Activities range from pencil-and-paper to collaboration tasks to digital games.

Support

Teachers differentiate through lesson customization. Auto-generated activities save tons of time. Data reports, instructional supports, and how-to webinars aid instructional changes.


Common Sense reviewer
Ana Beltran Other

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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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