After evaluating online feedback from the education community and testing the app in my classroom for two weeks, I can recommend Chicktionary as the best word game app for iOS and Android. Relative to other vocabulary-building apps, Chicktionary offers more engaging gameplay and appeals to a wider age range. Teachers can use this app as a fun supplement to traditional spelling and vocabulary assignments. Read on to find out more about how the app works and what qualifies it as a cut above other word games.
My students and I had no trouble diving right into the game, no tutorials necessary. Chicktionary makes it easy to learn the game’s object and features through gameplay. My only complaint is the rather lengthy ads that players must endure in the free version.
While Chicktionary challenges students to expand their vocabularies and practice their spelling, its independent pedagogical value would be much enhanced with an in-app dictionary. To get the most out of the app, teachers will need to pair it with an assignment.
In-app support is readily accessible through a well-organized help guide that includes an option to contact the app’s maker. The creator’s website also has a game support section with contact information.
I started the review process by downloading two vocabulary/spelling apps: Chicktionary v. 2.06 and The Opposites v. 1.0.1. Chicktionary is available for all iOS and Android devices for free. The Opposites is available only for iOS and costs $0.99. I installed both apps on my iPhone and iPad and put them on my classroom iPads. For two weeks, I had my 7th-grade English students use the apps for 10 minutes each day. I then evaluated the apps for their entertainment and educational value as well as their ease of play.
According to Soap Creative, Chicktionary’s creator, the app is a word game in which players solve spelling puzzles to advance across the farm. Players must arrange seven chickens with letters on their bellies in various ways to create a specific number of words. For example, in one level, a player might have to assemble five four-letter words and four six-letter words out of the available letters to progress. Chicktionary bases itself on the empirically backed notion that active learning facilitates verbal learning. As Reading Rockets points out, technology is especially valuable for vocabulary building in that it creates opportunities for interactive word play and can foster a “lively interest” in words. The app’s seamless blend of gaming technology and learning allows its true objective — building spelling and vocabulary skills — to be essentially undetectable to students.
Upon opening Chicktionary, students can choose from three forms of play: quick play, journey, and classic. Quick play challenges students to spell as many words as they can before the time expires. Journey mode allows players to progress across the barnyard as they complete puzzles of increasing complexity. Classic mode, arguably the most challenging, requires players to come up with a large number of words to complete a level in an unlimited amount of time. In all forms of play, valid word entries are displayed in an egg crate at the top of the screen. When players misspell a word or create an entry that is not a word, the game rejects it. This also ruffles the feathers of the letter-bellied chickens, who make their distaste for error known by clucking loudly. When players reach an impasse, they can use golden eggs to cause letter clues to appear in the egg crate. Players can earn golden eggs by spelling more words than required by the level or by purchasing them within the app.
I see Chicktionary as an entertaining alternative to traditional classroom vocabulary and spelling practice. To maximize the app’s pedagogical value, however, I recommend that teachers supplement gameplay with an assignment. For example, I had my students take a screenshot of all the words at the end of the level and define the ones they didn’t know. I also found it helpful for students to work in pairs, as they seemed to learn from each other as well. One of the app’s strongest selling points is that its appeal transcends age groups. The game is essentially as difficult as you make it — players have control over the type of gameplay and the number of hints they use. On the other hand, once the golden eggs run out, and the player can’t think of any more bonus words with which to earn them, the eggs now cost money. Likewise, the game is not so juvenile or so cerebral that it precludes certain age groups. Chicktionary’s addictive qualities can appeal to anyone from third grade on. I’m confident that most of my 7th graders would have needed 12-step programs had I not limited their daily gaming time, and I must own that I found myself playing Chicktionary outside of class on more than one occasion. With such compelling gameplay, students quickly forget the ulterior educational purpose.
Also a word game, The Opposites is one of Chicktionary’s leading competitor apps. Like Chicktionary, The Opposites builds vocabulary skills but does so by having players pair words with their antonyms. The Opposites falls short, however, in its fun factor and ho-hum graphics. In its defense, though, The Opposites has received its fair share of praise — its average user rating is 4.5 stars out of 5 on the Apple App Store. My students still enjoyed it, but the gameplay wasn’t near as immersive as Chicktionary’s. Another downside to The Opposites is that it’s currently only available on iOS devices. Other Chicktionary Reviews Chicktionary has received positive reviews across the board. In its review, Graphite praises Chicktionary for its entertaining gameplay and unconventional spelling practice. Similarly, in the Apple App Store, Chicktionary has an average rating of 4.5/5 stars for all versions. Lastly, Time magazine named Chicktionary one of its Top 25 iPad Apps for Kids, noting its addictive gameplay and educational value.
For ages eight and up, Chicktionary is the best word game for the classroom setting. The app’s beautiful graphics and delightfully engaging gameplay cause players to forget that they’re honing their verbal skills all the while. The app’s appeal and difficulty adapt to almost any grade level, placing it a cut above other word puzzle apps. Anne Moody Elliott graduated with degrees in English and Education from Bryn Mawr too long ago to warrant specifics. After teaching high-school English for several years, she returned to Penn State to complete a master’s degree in English. She now teaches 5th-, 6th-, and 7th-grade English in Lancaster, PA. When she is not crusading to save the English language from text-message butchery and prose limited to 140 characters, she enjoys kickboxing, freelance writing, and spending time with her two Greyhound rescues. Even after 10 years together, she still insists her husband is the Mr. Darcy to her Elizabeth and always will be.