Visual Thesaurus

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Visual Thesaurus Website Poster Image
Cool word maps add depth to language -- for a small price.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn new vocabulary words and find out whether a word is a noun, a verb, an adjective, or an adverb; how it's used; how you say it out loud; and its synonyms and antonyms. It's also possible to search for words in English and five other languages. Kids may need some help figuring out what each part of the word map represents, but, generally, the site isn't difficult to use. Visual Thesaurus offers an approachable, eye-opening take on language use, and its interesting extras make it worth the small price for word lovers.

Positive Messages

The site encourages learning and exploring language usage's more intricate details.

Violence

Aside from word searches for terms such as "murder" that turn up gory synonyms, there isn't anything graphic or inappropriate on the site.

Sex

Kids can find definitions for words such as "sex" and "porn" but have to leave the site to find anything more inappropriate.

Language

Users can choose from four filter levels to remove profanity; profanity, slang drug terms, obscenity-related terms, slurs, and blasphemous words; or all words that "may be considered offensive or inappropriate for children," or they can opt for an anything-goes filter that removes nothing.

Consumerism

The site requires a subscription, which costs $2.95 a month or $19.95 a year.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Without language filters enabled, kids can search for and find terms such as "stoned" and "cocaine" and get clinical definitions.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Visual Thesaurus is a language-learning aid that does require a paid subscription. Users can choose to share their word lists with other users or make them private, and they can comment on each other's lists. But you can't friend or directly contact other users through the site, so, generally, kids' experience should be safe. The definitions kids find during searches will be enriching. However, be aware that kids also can instantly search for additional information on any term by clicking the mouse and the Control key, and the links that come up may or may not be for kid-friendly websites.

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What's it about?

VISUAL THESAURUS can help kids see the relationships among different words. Type in a word, and related words will branch off from the term. Colored dots indicate whether the word is a noun, a verb, an adverb, or an adjective; example sentences illustrate usage. Kids also will see antonyms and synonyms and can comment on each other's word lists. The site says it currently offers more than 145,000 English words and 115,000 meanings; registration ($2.95 a month or $19.95 a year) is required beyond the 14-day free trial.

Is it any good?

Visual Thesaurus illustrates word definitions in a more vibrant way than many books can. Searches provide mapped-out versions of a word, showing links to synonyms, antonyms, and other information. Kids get a visual look at how words relate, including helpful information on word type and how it's used in a sentence. Grammar junkies should love the site; other kids may not be drawn to it on a daily basis. However, the Visual Thesaurus definitely can serve as a classroom resource or tool to help kids hunt down individual word definitions while, as a bonus, subtly reinforcing other grammar and language concepts.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what new words your child found out about on the site. Are there other school subjects your child would be interested in looking up online?

  • (Check out our School Performance Tips guide to see how technology can help your kids be academically successful.)

  • You can post comments on the site about other users' lists. What kind of comments would be positive or helpful to post? What kinds of things shouldn’t you say?

  • Although kids can comment, they can't friend each other through the site. Why might that be safer than websites that let you connect with other users you don't know in real life?

Website details

For kids who love Words

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