Review by Polly Conway, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2012

Word Central

Enhance vocabulary with games, daily definitions, and wordy activities

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K-5 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: The Build Your Own Dictionary is a fun exercise for kids, and the games are simple and helpful.

Cons: An update and more games would give this site what it needs to be outstanding.

Bottom Line: Although there's not a ton of content here, the word-related games and activities are fun and can enhance kids' vocabularies.

For such a sparse site, there's actually a lot for teachers here. The For Educators section provides a short history of the English language, a list of book distributors, and links to other educational sites. You can review the site's description of the way words enter the dictionary and start a class discussion on the topic. What words do you use every day that didn't exist ten years ago? For example, Google, texting, etc. Ask students to invent their own words, along with definitions. Add them to the Build Your Own Dictionary; for a follow-up, ask kids to incorporate all the new words into a short story or poem.

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Word Central is an educational site that offers a full children's dictionary, word games, and daily buzzwords. The exercises included on this site give kids an opportunity to better their vocabulary and to learn about the origin of language. Word Central does a great job of catering their definitions to a younger audience and has clearly placed effort on providing appropriate terminology. A "Build Your Own Dictionary" section allows users to create their own words, parts of speech, and definitions. Users can also search for words directly in the search engine or alphabetically. Also, the Thesaurus and Rhyming categories offer lists of synonyms, antonyms, and rhyming words. 

Interactive crossword puzzles and games serve to expand kids' vocabulary on Merriam-Webster's Word Central. Kids spell words that are read aloud to them in games such as "Alpha-bot." "Robo-Bee" provides cute clues and definitions kids can use to solve word puzzles. Educators will find a short list of reference books for extending reading and vocabulary acquisition from the same mother publisher.

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Kids can learn how to spell, define, and discover the origins of words through interactive games and studying the dictionary. A different buzzword is offered every day, along with a short history lesson about the language it stems from. Interactive word games help kids learn the definitions and spelling of homophones. Ample opportunities for reflection help kids learn from their mistakes.

Budding wordsmiths can amp up their vocabulary with this site, which is cute and charming enough to please younger kids; older kids might feel too cool for "Alpha-bot" and "Robo-bee," helpful as they are. What's disappointing about this site is that the games are very few, there isn't a whole lot to do, and it hasn't changed in years, aside from the the daily word. With an update, Word Central could be spectacular.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Word-loving kids will enjoy the interactive Merriam-Webster crossword puzzles and games. While there aren't very many games, the ones available are charming enough, and kids will love adding to the Build Your Own Dictionary.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Kids learn vocabulary definitions and spelling through repetition and practice. A spelling game offers different levels of difficulty for players and gives hints if words are too challenging.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

Words are read aloud to kids in some games, and Robo-Bee provides cute clues and definitions. Educators will find a short list of reference books for improving reading and vocabulary from Merriam-Webster.


Common Sense Reviewer
Polly Conway Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Adrienne D. , Early childhood provider
Early childhood provider
4
Cool for School. Helped with Rhyming for Preschoolers.

My overall opinion about this product as a teaching tool is it is very useful. The students enjoy using it and it is a great tool to any STEAM program. I also like that it helped and is currently helping my students enhanced their love for words and their vocabulary. I also like that the website has a sound tool and will pronounce every word for the students so they can hear the syllables in the words.

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