Title: The World’s Worst Pet
Publisher: Curriculum Associates, LLC
Subject Area: Vocabulary, English language aligned with the Common Core
Summary: Four games that introduce students to over one thousand Tier Two words. Activities follow a narrative and include a reward system.
Ease of use: I believe a child could use this with minimal to no help at all. The game provides instructions before each mini game. Instructions include a demonstration and the opportunity to replay the instructions. The interface is very intuitive with clear objectives and instructions. If you use a word incorrectly or don’t follow the directions, the game prompts you to try again and provides a hint. For example, one game asked for the opposite word of sweetly. When I used joyful, which is a synonym not an antonym, I was given the definition of sweetly to help me find the correct answer.
Skill Set: I believe the game is targeted at 9-12 year olds. The student must possess basic vocabulary skills.
Program Design Features:
Control of Pace: Yes Individual Use: Yes
Reviews/Help: Yes Use with Pairs/Small Groups: No
Ability to Backtrack: Yes Printer Use: No
Levels of Difficulty: Yes Test/Record Keeping: Yes
Physical Interface: Yes Add-on Option: Yes
Speech Features: No Scaffolding: Yes
Program Comments: The objective of the game is to teach students Tier Two words (words that they may not come across in everyday vocabulary) through a series of games. Each game has a theme, for example, weather, music, etc. The first game provides the student with a sentence and then a list of words. You’re instructed to pick the word that best fits the sentence. The second game provides the student with one word and asks you to find the synonym. The third game asks the students a question and asks them to pick the words that best answer that question. The last game gives the students a word and asks them to pick the antonym.
Problem Solving Skills: Choices/Multiple Answers, working backwards, identifying relationships, interpreting data, stimulate imaginative thinking, using trial and error, ability to transfer skills and knowledge to contextual situations, transference of skills
Fun Factor: In my opinion the game is fairly entertaining, or at least at first it is. It’s difficult to create an engaging game about vocabulary so I applaud the effort. The game takes the flash card approach but uses narratives, gamification, and interesting graphics in order to make the experience enjoyable and memorable. I think we can all agree that this game is better than your average flashcards. These words are more likely to stick because students aren’t just memorizing them. They’re using them in a fun and engaging way. The game does have replay ability, especially if you don’t earn all of the ‘pupcakes’. There is also a timer and the opportunity to earn badges.
My main concern with the game is that you could potentially win without having learned the words at all. For example, you could win by guessing because there don’t seem to be any consequences for using the incorrect word.
Supplementary Materials: At the end of each level, the game provides a writing prompt and encourages students to use the words they learned within the essay. This is not implemented in the game, but I could envision teachers incorporating that into the lesson. It is an excellent way of providing supplemental material.
Follow-up Activities: Since the game already provides supplementary material, there are not any that I would recommend. However, I found myself wishing that a game like this existed while I was studying for the SAT or GRE. Learning vocabulary words, especially for a standardized test, is incredibly frustrating. Like I mentioned above, memorization does not actually help a student absorb and integrate that vocabulary into daily life and is therefore not an appropriate learning tool. Yet, it remains the most common when learning vocabulary and languages.