What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the Dictionary.com app provides sophisticated dictionary content with intuitive menus and navigation. It's a semi-hip reference (as hip as a standard dictionary can be) for kids as young as 9 (with assistance) all the way to adults. Complete dictionary entries give a full experience including geographical, biographical, historical, and scientific terms. As with any good dictionary, definitions for sex, drugs, and curse words give useful objective information, not dramatization or glorification. Users can post word entries to Facebook or Twitter, or send via SMS or email. The free app includes banner ads at bottom. The app participates in the mPOINTS rewards system, where users complete tasks to earn points to redeem for gift cards, contest entries, or charitable donations.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- reading comprehension
Thinking & Reasoning
- making conclusions
- part-whole relationships
- thinking critically
- academic development
Engagement, Approach, Support
Daily updates can give kids ideas. The rewards system prompts them to search. The Nearby feature could be fodder for research and analysis. The Share feature gives them access to social media, email, and SMS.
You get no games or direction on how to read entries. The Recent and Favorites sections allow some customization and continuity.
It doesn't include any extensions or links to the companion website. The interface is intuitive and easy to navigate.
What's it about?
Dictionary.com has two easily interchangeable modes: dictionary and thesaurus. The search box with voice recognition button (microphone) is present at the top of all pages. The main page lets users choose and read daily (and previous) updates, view recent searches, and access saved words. Links to referenced entries are an obvious but lacking feature, and illustrations are mentioned but do not seem to be present.
Is it any good?
Dictionary.com is a pretty darn convenient way to improve spelling, vocabulary, and knowledge with modern bells and whistles not possible in a traditional book format -- voice recognition, daily updates, favorites, and search history. "Hot" words ("How the prefix 'Franken-' took on a life of its own"), Question of the Day ("What is the plural of virus?), and Spanish Word of the Day might hook older kids. Quite good but not perfect voice recognition ("babble" gave "Babel") solves the age-old problem of not knowing how to spell the word you want to look up. Dictionary.com destroys similar apps like Merriam-Webster (Android version) in downloads, ease of use, and overall functionality. Unfortunately, there are no built-in games and no interactivity outside of basic social sharing and relatively engaging and well-done daily updates.
Families can talk about...
Prepare a list of favorite words, then read definitions and see who can blurt the corresponding word fastest.
Play dictionary games. Choose a difficult word and send one player out. Have other players make up definitions and write them down, along with the correct definition. Have the player come back and guess the correct definition.