Courtesy of Merriam-Webster

Merriam-Webster's Vocabulary App For Kids Encourages Learning With A Virtual Pet

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Thanks to Merriam-Webster, vocabulary building just got a whole lot more fun with a new app called Puku. Indeed, Merriam-Webster's new vocabulary app gives kids a fun and rewarding way to learn new words by enabling them to grow their vocabulary along with an adorable virtual pet.

Named for the virtual pet it features, the Puku app encourages users to "grow" their new pet by mastering new words. As players complete accomplishments and reach new milestones within the game, Puku the pet evolves as a means or rewarding players for their work and keeping kids engaged and motivated.

Merriam-Webster shared in a press release that players can choose from ongoing play or leveled vocabulary play when playing Puku. What's more, the app offers custom collections of vocabulary words such as Food, Holidays, Books, and Mythology, allowing kids to play off word lists associated with their specific areas of interest. Players can also create and share their own word lists within the game, enabling kids to also use the app to practice vocabulary words they're being taught in school.

"The Puku app provides an engaging and rewarding learning experience that is tailored to kids’ needs and interests," Damien Yambo, Merriam-Webster's director of educational products said in a statement. "Puku can help children practice the vocabulary they're learning in class, but kids can also play Puku to better understand the books they're reading for fun."

Courtesy of Merriam-Webster
Courtesy of Merriam-Webster

Designed for children ages 8 and up, Puku can help kids learn thousands of new words in a way that is both efficient and motivational, according to Yahoo!. When players stumble over a word, the app provides corrective feedback regarding the word's definition. Best of all, parents can trust that Puku will present their kids with only age-appropriate Merriam-Webster definitions.

The Britannica Group, which owns Merriam-Webster Inc., has characterized the new vocabulary-building app as an effective way to use technology to aid children's learning outside the classroom.

"Games are one of the ways that technology, used effectively, can help enhance learning inside and outside classrooms," Karthik Krishnan, global CEO of the Britannica Group, said in a statement. "The launch of Puku following the recent launch of Guardians of History, our interactive voice experience, showcases Britannica's quest to blend modern-day technology, science fiction, and gamification concepts to continue to inspire curiosity and the joy of learning in new and engaging formats."

Officials at Merriam-Webster shared in the press release that they were driven to create Puku in an effort to provide children who may have already grown their vocabulary beyond what's covered in entry-level apps with new learning tools. "We wanted to create a tool for kids who have outgrown entry-level vocabulary apps, and also for parents who are frustrated with the limited resources available to help their older children study words they are learning in school," Lisa Schneider, Merriam-Webster's chief digital officer and publisher, said in a statement.

For the moment, Puku is only available through the Apple app store for iOS users although an Android version is expected to be available shortly. You can download the app here and introduce your kid to the adorable Puku.