Word Sundae

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Word Sundae App Poster Image
Family fun with familiar, but flawed, word builder.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn spelling, vocabulary, and reading skills as they search for words among a bunch of letters. Kids must problem-solve and think flexibly to figure out how the letters in front of them can be combined to make words. Special bonus tiles and letters with different point values can motivate kids to try harder to make that perfect, high-scoring word. The words a playing partner makes -- whether it's another human or the computer -- can help kids see possibilities they may not have considered and may introduce them to words they've never heard. Though not perfect, Word Sundae is a cute way for family members to play with word construction, so long as everyone understands the rules and scoring first.

Ease of Play

Navigation is a snap, but with no hints for kids having trouble making words, playing could be a challenge. The weighted scoring system also isn't very clear and can cause confusion.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Word Sundae is a Scrabble-style game aimed at young kids. Two modes of play let two users play against each other or one play against the computer. Before starting a new game, the user indicates her level -- whether it be preschooler, school-age, or grown-up -- which affects the scoring system: Younger kids have a big advantage in racking up points.  There's no help for when kids get stuck, so younger kids especially may need to work with a grown-up. Though users enter names to create player accounts, they don't have to enter a real name.  For details about the kind of information the app collects and shares, read the privacy policy.

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What's it about?

Make a WORD SUNDAE with letter-labeled ice cream scoops. Play against the computer or with a partner and indicate whether each player is a preschooler, an older kid, or a grown-up. Each round presents 20 (mostly) high-frequency letters, including many duplicates. Players take turns making two- to five-letter words. Special tiles give more points for letters or whole words or grant extra turns. The scoring system is deliberately rigged to award more points to younger players. After five rounds of five turns each, the player with the most points wins.

Is it any good?

This Scrabble-like game is a nice, basic platform for some good old competitive word-building fun, but there are flaws. The ice cream theme, animal avatars, weighted scoring system, and limited letter choice work well to make the game seem appealing to younger kids. Yet without built-in help, preschoolers -- most of whom don't read independently yet -- will be hard-pressed to form more than a few simple words. The young target age is inconsistent with many of the words the computer generates when you're playing solo against the computer; for example "airt," "boral," and "miter" are probably not in most preschoolers' vocabularies. Also, the computer sometimes generates first names, such as "Joe," which is usually not allowed in this type of game. The weighted scoring system is a nice idea, but its logic isn't clear, which could make older kids feel a bit cheated. Flexibility in word length for older players would stretch the challenge and creativity as well. If an adult explains these features before playing, however, it could be a way for siblings to use a device together while practicing verbal skills.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about and play games together. Use the game as an easily portable bonding experience.

  • Encourage kids to look up word they don't know, especially if they play against the computer and see lots of novel words.

  • Talk about patterns in written English that can help kids build words -- for example, (almost) always pairing a "q" with a "u"; knowing when it's time to use a vowel; changing the first letter to make rhyming words; and so on.

App details

For kids who love multiplayer and word games

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