Enchanted Dictionary by Golden Communications LLC is one of those Apps that is a lot more than it appears at first. There are two versions of the App, and I was lucky enough to win the Enchanted Dictionary 4-6th Grade version, in an AppAble giveaway. (Thanks to AppAble and to Golden Communications LLC for your generosity) however all of my comments will also be applicable to the second version, Enchanted Dictionary 7th-12th Grade, as the Apps are identical apart from the pre-installed content. The Enchanted Dictionary allows users to select a list of words and their meanings to play a game. Once you hit Play, the definitions are scrambled and the student must drag the words back into the correct order. On one hand, the activity reinforces comprehension across the curriculum areas covered in the dictionary categories. On the other hand, it reinforces grammar skills. That was the potted guide, but let’s have a closer look at this App, and you’ll see why I love it so much.
- Words are grouped into subject categories and subcategories. There are over 650 words in the 4th-6th Grade version, and over 800 words in the 7th-12th Grade version.
- You can create your own categories, subcategories and dictionary entries, which means you can customise the app to meet the specific learning needs of your students.
- Even though the Apps are aimed at particular age-groups, the ability to customise the content means that they can be used with much wider age groups. I’m using the 4th-6th grade app with my son in Year 2.
- There are no in-app purchases, advertising, or social networking links. The only external link is a discreet link to the developer website for support.
- The scrambled words can be dragged around on the left of the page, giving the child a chance to experiment with word order before dragging them to the right to make the definition.
- There are no penalties for incorrect word placement. Incorrect word choices simply bounce-back to the left side of the screen.
- Simple controls and interface make this easy for students to use.
- The simple graphics mean the app is age-appropriate for all ages and there are few distractions from the task at hand.
Customising the App
- Creating your own entries – My favourite feature is that you can create your own categories, subcategories and word lists. I created a category, subcategory and a word/definition in seconds. How easy is this? The controls are so simple that Miss A, aged 9 was able to create her own list of dictionary entries under a new category and subcategory with minimal instruction. Check the help files for information on how to mark words (usually adjectives such as long, deep, narrow) that can be entered in any order.
- Limit Word Lists – Another way to customise the app is to limit the number of words and definitions to be practiced by selecting or de-selecting words in each subcategory list. All you need to do is tap on a word to toggle it on or off, and there are options to either select all the words in the list, or to select none. The latter option is really handy if there are just a few words you want to select in a long list. My 8 y.o.is looking at materials and their properties in his Yr 2 class. Some of the terms they are using, such as Opaque and Transparent, are already in the dictionary under Life Sciences, so he was able to play the game just using the words related to the topic.
The YouTube Video below shows the many features of the Enchanted Dictionary Apps.
- Homework Tasks: – My children often have interesting homework tasks realities to their spelling and vocabulary lists. Sometimes these are set, but some teachers are allowing children to use new technologies to complete tasks at their discretion (provided parents “sign off”). One of the tasks we are doing this week is to write definitions for each word in the word list. Instead of the “boring” paper and pencil task, it has been a lot more motivating for my son to type his definitions into the Enchanted Dictionary and then to play with them. Education-by-Stealth.
- Using it with other age groups: – Although the version I have is aimed at Year 4 to Year 7, that I can customise it means that I am able to use it with children younger and older than the suggested age range. I’m already using it with my son in Year 2, although I haven’t tried it with his younger brother in Year 1.
- I’d love a search function so that I could type in a word and see instantly if it was there instead of having to browse the categories. Still, the way that the App is organised into logical categories and subcategories means you can find things quickly and easily. The search feature would be useful for people who add lots of their own entries.
- A cut/copy and paste feature for entire entries would be good. I would have liked to simply copy the relevant entries in the Life Science section and paste them into my Materials and Properties subcategory. I was able to copy and paste the definition, which was a welcome feature, but the entire entry would have been a split-second faster. (Call me demanding….)
- A lock feature would be handy to prevent children from deleting information or from entering inappropriate content.
- Currently I can’t see how I can share my customised content between iPads. I know teachers would appreciate being able to make one set of customised content and then share it between class sets of iPads. Don’t let this put you off, as it takes very little time to enter custom lists.
- Punctuation would appeal to the grammar nazi in me. I can’t cope with the lack of full stops (or period marks) at the end of sentences. It would also mean that the App could moonlight as a fun homework activity for creating sentences from weekly spelling and vocab lists. Think of it: You could add the key word and then write a sentence using that word as a definition. Classmates and siblings could then solve the puzzle by rearranging the words to form your sentence.
I have to love an App that packs a double educational punch. Not only are children working on sentence building and comprehension skills, but they are building their vocabulary and subject-specific knowledge at the same time. The app is open-ended so that you can tailor it to the specific needs of your child/students, and it is easy enough to use that you can even set children the task of creating their own lists. It is suitable for children of all ages and of all educational ability, but will be particularly useful for students with speech impairments, learning difficulties and other special needs. In short, this is a gem of an app and parents and teachers will love it. Highly recommended.
Golden Communications LLC (goldencommunicationsllc.com)