Vocab Rootology

App review by
Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Media
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No-frills app helps build vocabulary by focusing on roots.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to recognize Greek and Latin roots, their definitions, and how they appear in words. Flashcards allow them to build their knowledge, checking off roots one at a time as they correctly define them. In the drill section, kids apply those definitions as they break down words by prefix, suffix, and root. Learning the roots of words can help kids boost their vocabulary and reading comprehension, but Vocab Rootology's unpolished design and focus on drills may not engage kids.

Ease of Play

Clear icons and tabs get teens started and help them choose the appropriate category and level of play. Teens should take time to read the instructions as they lay out the best method of study, which suggests studying the flashcards first and then going through timed drills. Because the drills option appears before the flashcards option on the main play menu, some teens may start with drills and quickly find themselves overwhelmed.

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Instructions and About Us sections encourage teens to move beyond the app and explore PrepInteractive's other content available through its Facebook page and other apps. Aside from the other PI apps, all promoted resources are free.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that teens will do some serious vocabulary building with Vocab Rootology. They won't find flashy graphics, cool sound effects, or even creative games; instead, the Greek/Latin roots take center stage. After teens complete timed drills, parents can track their progress through the report card feature, which lists their current level, a GPA, and performance based on four categories. Vocab Rootology can helps those kids who struggle with vocabulary. If kids can learn Greek/Latin roots it may help them define and understand vocabulary in texts they may be reading.

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What's it about?

VOCAB ROOTOLOGY offers a simple exercise -- studying vocabulary-based flashcards -- and then puts the content of those flashcards to use during timed drills so players can, as the instructions put it, "Drill, baby, Drill!!!" Flashcards cover four main categories: prefixes, suffixes, Greek roots, and Latin roots. As teens study flashcards, they earn experience points. Completing timed drills, organized by subject and level, also earns points. Both types of points help determine a teen's overall GPA and grade level, shown on the Report Card.

Is it any good?

With Vocab Rootology, developer PrepInteractive aims to help teens prepare for important standardized tests, such as the ACT, SAT, and GRE. This focus on academic success leads to a more serious app focused less on frills and more on academic vocabulary. Multiple levels keep teens from practicing the same words over and over again, and the report card feature encourages them to improve their GPAs as they continue building their knowledge of Greek and Latin roots.

An engaging tutorial instead of lengthy instructions would give the app a boost, as would audio options for auditory learners.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Pay attention to the roots kids are learning and incorporate words containing those roots into everyday conversation.

  • Instead of having kids quiz themselves, use the flashcard portion of the app to quiz them.

App details

For kids who love working with words

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