Back when I started homeschooling I read a book talking about the vocabulary gap. It had a sample paragraph from a classic novel and then said if you needed to reread the paragraph to understand it, then you had a vocabulary gap. I remember going back and rereading the paragraph thinking, “Were some of these words meant to be hard?” Apparently they were. That is when I mentally thanked my 10th grade English teacher for making us learn SAT vocabulary words by writing out the definition and using each word in a sentence and then testing us on them forever. I want my kids to have this same vocabulary, but hopefully without the drill and kill. To do that, I’ve found a vocabulary game: Vocabulary Quest!
(This post is sponsored by Vocabulary Quest, it’s a fun computer game, come give it a try).
Why you need a good vocabulary game
We all want our kids to get into a good college.
One step towards that is doing well on SAT tests and ACT tests.
You could take an expensive class and spend hundreds of dollars to try and improve your child’s SAT scores.
You could get your child Vocabulary Quest, and improve through a vocabulary game that reviews the words and is fun.
That’s the first reason.
Next, let’s go back to that paragraph I read in the homeschooling book.
Did you know most newspapers are written about a fourth-grade reading level?
Or that was true when I was in high school over 20 years ago.
By contrast, many classical texts and older newspapers are written on a high school graduate reading level.
Now, you could assign your kids loads of books to read and give them vocabulary lists. I’ll tell you I’ve done that, and I can also tell you, it’s a fight sometimes.
OR. Now listen to me here.
You could get a vocabulary game, that your kids can play for 20 minutes a day, and they can practice their vocabulary in a fun way.
So how does this vocabulary game work
First, you go and buy it from Vocabulary Quest and then download it. You get unlimited users with your purchase, so if you’ve got a bunch of kids you want to work on their vocabulary you can download it onto multiple computers.
And yes, on their FAQ, they do say if you need to reset that download limit because you have more than 7 kids, they’ll help you do that.
Once you’ve downloaded it, and just so you know when I first downloaded it, my virus scanner said, “This is a new program, are you sure it’s okay?” I told them, yes, and they double checked it and then downloaded it a little bit later after double checking me. If that happens to you, it’s because this is a small company, and your virus scanner may not know it. I’ve had it on my computer for months now and there is nothing wrong with it.
Once you’ve downloaded it, you can customize your character. I don’t know why, but customizing yoru character always makes a game more fun.
Diving into Vocabulary Quest
From there you start leveling up your character as you learn vocabulary. I’ve got it installed on my computer so I could play around with it.
Here are my observations so far:
Always play the practice games before playing the competition. I know these words, but you aren’t given multiple choice when taking the final combat for each section (The newer version does let you choose between having a word bank in the final combat or the harder version without a word bank). You have to type in the word correctly on a timed test.
There are four different practice tests: multiple choice, matching (shown in the picture), crossword puzzle, and fill in the blank. I would practice until you can get 100% on the practice quizzes.
If you still want more practice, you can just practice typing the words over and over again.
The thing that hung me up was reading the definition, and thinking “I know of five different words that can fit that definition.” I strongly considered taking a picture of the words I was working on with my phone just to have a quick reminder.
With that, I can totally see how this program could be great for my memory too (But truly that word bank makes this game SO much easier!).
It would probably also help if I wasn’t trying to race through saying, “I already know those words,” but took the time to truly practice.
On a regular basis.
Things to know about Vocabulary Quest
This is timed. The levels are done with a timed test, and so if your kid isn’t going to react well to that, this is not for you.
For me, that’s good because it’s getting my daughter, who doesn’t like timed tests. Used to the idea in a low stakes way.
There are fantasy themes in this.
I know some families don’t do fantasy, if that’s you, this isn’t for you.
I LOVE the fantasy themes, it makes me smile. For my family, this is a HUGE benefit, because it increased interest in the game. Some people also might dislike the animation style, it’s very video gamey.
If you’re unsure, then try the demo at the bottom of the Vocabulary Quest homepage. It gives you a pretty good idea of what the game is like.
For me, all of those possible drawbacks are a plus, but I can see how either of those might be dealbreakers for your family (One family in my co-op for each of those potential problems).
Books to read once you’ve improved your vocabulary with Vocabulary Quest
Okay, this isn’t so much improving vocabulary, as it is, books to read once you’ve improved that vocabulary.