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Free Rice

Website review by
Elizabeth Crane, Common Sense Media
Free Rice Website Poster Image
Learning and ending hunger, a few grains of rice at a time.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 56 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about social responsibility and world hunger while testing their core subject knowledge with fun, simple games. While the default activity is English vocabulary, it's easy to switch to other subjects, including geography, science, math, art history –- even SAT prep. The surface-level topic coverage keeps the games fun, which keeps you playing -- which means you're donating more rice. On every page kids can learn more about the countries on the receiving end and about other opportunities to help end hunger. Free Rice successfully combines learning with social responsibility in a way that's positively addictive.

Positive Messages

The site explicitly combines learning with social activism. Each correct answer in the endless quiz donates real rice -- ten grains per answer -- to the UN World Food Program.

Violence

Violence is not an issue on this site.

Sex
Language

Words like "inimical" (hostile) and "omasum" (a cow's stomach chamber) show up, but swear words are nonexistent.

Consumerism

There are no ads on this site. Ad-like links are provided to sponsoring entities like the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and World Hunger Relief. There are also links to their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

No drugs here. The questions in any category make no reference to alcohol, drugs, or tobacco.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that for every correct answer to this site's endless quiz, ten grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Program. It's addictive, it can spark competitiveness -- "I can donate more rice than you can!", and bragging -- "My vocabulary score topped out at 42!" Neither children nor adults are immune to its lure.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of an infant, 5, 11, 11, and 14 year old Written byThe Random Reviewer January 15, 2011

Perfect for all ages

It is the perfect website that my 5 girls can enjoy together though not all of them can play it gives a feeling of acomplishment to have been able to donate ric...
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written bybrown_eyed_girl June 28, 2010

OK if you don't click the ads by accident

Not sure why CMS says there are no ads as there are clear ads for $13 iPads, clothing stores, and stock trades all linking to junky websites prominently display... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old April 12, 2010

Fun at first, then gets boring

When I first heard about this at my computer class at school, I played it, but sometimes it can get boring because sometimes, they use the same stuff over and o... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 29, 2010

Awesome!

I love this website! It's such a great idea: Answer questions and fight world hunger!

What's it about?

It's fiendishly simple: the screen presents the viewer with a vocabulary question. Click on the correct answer and FREE RICE donates ten grains of rice to the UN World Food Program. A graphic on the side shows bowls of rice as they fill and accumulate. That's it. Except that now there's another word on the screen, a harder word, so you click on the definition for that one and watch as the score improves. By the time the participant checks out the other topics available -- geography, French, multiplication tables -- dozens of words have been defined and multiple bowls full of rice have been donated.

Is it any good?

The site's stated goals make it plain. Free Rice exists to provide free education and help end world hunger. Period. Somehow they manage to make it fun in the process. Kids like the game format and respond well to the challenge of improving their scores. Parents will want to play it themselves for the mental stimulation. And all the while, every correct answer drops another ten grains of rice into some hungry person's bowl.

Interestingly, the site's FAQ does more than answer typical questions. It presents issues that might be raised about hunger, about the nature of learning, and why the site even exists. The sponsors who pay for the donated rice are listed and linked to, and questions that a thoughtful adolescent might ask -- like how much rice does it take to feed a person for a day -- are addressed. There's more to chew on here than just rice. At the time of this review, Free Rice had donated over 96 billion grains of rice -- and improved the minds of countless people along the way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the meaning of world hunger and what they learned on this site. Be prepared for conversations about different artistic styles, or sentences peppered with words like "scoff" and "chastise." As vocabulary improves, confidence grows, and dinner table conversation may never be the same.

  • Are there any shelters close to you where you can donate canned food? It's important to know that hunger isn't something that only happens in far-off places.

Website details

For kids who love giving back

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