Roots to Words

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Roots to Words App Poster Image
Focused drills for vocab building; no bells and whistles.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn more than 150 Greek and Latin word roots and countless words built from those roots. Understanding roots will help kids decode unfamiliar words and expand their vocabularies. Root categories include Numbers, Quantity, Shapes, Directions, Comparison, Time & Distance, See 'n Speak, Not or Against, Body and Life, Movement, People, Feelings, Life Cycle, Anatomy I, and Anatomy II. Roots to Words doesn't provide any gameplay or visual elements to hold kids' interest, but it does offer solid drills for building vocabulary skills.

Ease of Play

No instructions or tutorials are included, but interface is intuitive.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Roots to Words is a vocabulary-building tool that teaches word roots. When kids have an understanding of roots, they can decode many unfamiliar words. The drills provide a great way to prep for ACT/SAT. Kids choose from 15 categories of roots and can reset each category once all four levels of wordplay are completed to allow play by another user or to replay themselves. There are no user accounts and no personal information is requested from kids. No ads, gimmicks, or visual enhancements distract from the learning focus.

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What's it about?

Kids start by selecting a category from a list of 15, including such basics as numbers and shapes and more advanced anatomy terms. Instead of getting a list of roots to review, they first use problem-solving and logic skills to figure out the root, given its definition and three partial words that should contain that root and the words' definitions. For example, the root meaning against with the word parts _biotic, _thesis, and _pathy should lead kids to the root anti. Each category includes five to 10 roots. In part two, kids put together roots and word parts from a word bank to create the words matching given definitions. Each root has four levels of words to decode. Hints are available by tapping the question mark. No scores are tracked, and incorrect choices get unlimited chances.

Is it any good?

Roots to Words is effective vocabulary practice that's fun for internally motivated learners. The design is pretty simple, and there's no time to beat or scores to keep. Some kids may not find this kind of activity motivating enough to keep playing on their own, although some will find the thrill in figuring out the words. Some words will be familiar; some are quite challenging; and some will prompt a head slap as finding a root in a familiar word makes the meaning click. The approach of figuring out the root rather than just reviewing a root list helps with retention, and when all four levels are done, kids can review the list of roots from that category. All in all, kids may need some encouragement to spend time with Roots to Words, but their vocabularies will benefit.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Encourage kids preparing for SAT/ACT to spend time practicing with Roots to Words to build a strong vocabulary foundation.

  • Play a game using word roots. Make up a word using a root and have your child guess the meaning based on the root, then switch and let your child make up a new word.

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love words, reading, writing

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