Common Sense Media says

Kid-friendly definitions make site a great reference.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Promotes learning and creating new vocabulary words.

Violence & scariness

Kids can look up the definition of violent words (kill, murder, fight etc.). However, this is not the purpose of the site.

Sexy stuff

The complete dictionary offers definitions of sexual organs that are given in proper and straightforward terms.

Language

Vulgar curse words are omitted, however proper definitions of "bitch" and "ass" are included.

Consumerism

Advertisements encourage users to purchase Merriam-Webster items.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The definitions of drugs are written in a biased tone reminding kids that they are habit-forming and illegal.

Privacy & safety

Some concerns. The site does not ask for personal information and does a thorough job of preventing external links in areas of interest for kids. However, a "For Educators" does include a link to Merriam-Webster Online, which is chock-full of external links. If kids choose to submit their own word for the "Build Your Own Dictionary" section they are asked to include their name, age, and state.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 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. The only advertisements on site are promoting Merriam-Webster merchandise.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • reading
  • spelling
  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • analyzing evidence
  • defining problems
  • memorization

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

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.

Learning Approach

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

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.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • reading
  • spelling
  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • analyzing evidence
  • defining problems
  • memorization

Kids can learn how to spell, define, and discover the origin 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.

This Learning Rating review was written by Karen Wirsing

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What's it about?

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.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

WORD CENTRAL provides a safe place where kids can create their own dictionary, look up words, and play vocabulary games without worrying about online interaction from outside sources. Users can search for words directly in the search engine or alphabetically. Also, the "Thesaurus" and "Rhyming" categories offer lists of synonyms, antonyms, and rhyming words. The "For Educators" section is a bonus that provides a short history of the English Language, a list of book distributors, and links to more educational sites.

What's disappointing about this site is that the games are very few, there isn't a whole lot to do, and the site hasn't changed in years. With an update, the site could be spectacular.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about building vocabulary. When you come across a word you don't know, do you look it up? Ask someone what it means? Skip over it?

  • Families can also discuss how to stay safe online.

Website details

Genre:Educational
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Word Central was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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