The Free Dictionary by Farlex
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Free Dictionary by Farlex -- though not slick or sleek (basically wiki-style) -- may be the best all-around dictionary app for content and functionality available in the app stores. The free version has banner ads at the bottom and Google ads embedded into entries with links, but these can be removed with a $1.99 in-app purchase. 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 them via SMS or email.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- reading comprehension
Thinking & Reasoning
- asking questions
- making conclusions
- part-whole relationships
- thinking critically
- academic development
- personal growth
- asking questions
- conveying messages effectively
Engagement, Approach, Support
Games, a daily word, news, and more pull kids and adults in, though the layout could use design improvements and a bit of color.
The breadth and depth of content is amazing, as are the options for display, search, and language. Kids with different learning styles should find a way to learn vocabulary here.
Fourteen world languages, translation, audio, and main-page controls make the app very accessible.
What's it about?
Right off the bat, THE FREE DICTIONARY BY FARLEX can be toggled into 14 of the most common world languages, not to mention translate for individual searches. The Customize button allows users to toggle 12 main-page daily updates. At the top, users type words into the text box for word searches or expand for advanced search options, bookmarks, settings (such as larger fonts), and sharing.
Is it any good?
This may be the most comprehensive, well-cited, fun, crammed-with-content dictionary app available in the app stores. Elementary-school-age kids will want to play the games, and everyone will find something of interest in the daily updates (though they're written at the upper-elementary level). With the ability to customize daily content, change font size, and access simple word games and cartoon graphics, The Free Dictionary by Farlex is appropriate and engaging for kids of almost all ages.
In addition to being fun, the app will help improve spelling, vocabulary, and knowledge through complete, adult-level dictionary entries that include part of speech, audio, multiple definitions, translation, origins, and thesaurus entries. The app pulls dictionary (including legal, medical, financial) and encyclopedic content from numerous respected sources such as McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, HarperCollins, the Farlex clip-art collection copyright Princeton University, and Wikipedia, and provides citations for each search. Design is not as slick as it could be, but it's worth the trade-off. The only feature lacking is built-in voice recognition, but the device-level recognition works amazingly well (Stephanopoulos came up lickety-split).
Families can talk about...
Read a daily feature together at mealtime or during car rides (with the passenger reading, of course).
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.