Puku helps children 8-12 master vocabulary with Merriam-Webster, America’s most trusted dictionary

App of the Week

Puku is a fun and motivating vocabulary-building app for kids. The app features Puku, a virtual pet that grows and evolves as players master new words, in an engaging display that rewards progress. Designed for children ages 8-12, the app’s unique format offers ongoing, leveled vocabulary play and gives users the ability to quickly create and share their own word lists, populated with Merriam-Webster definitions.

Every player has a personalized learning experience guided by adaptive learning technology. The app responds directly to the users’ performance ensuring that learning is efficient and motivating: kids spend their time on new and challenging vocabulary and get immediate corrective feedback when a word’s meaning eludes them.   

Puku features a virtual pet that keeps kids engaged and motivated to learn. There are three ways to play Puku: ongoing, leveled vocabulary lists; custom categories, such as words about Food or Mythology; or users can create and share their own lists to match areas of interest or curriculum. Teachers can also take advantage of Puku to quickly create and share word lists with their students, all automatically populated with trusted, authoritative Merriam-Webster definitions.

 

 

Formats:

Available now on iPhone/iPad, and coming soon on Android

 

Primary Website:

https://merriam-webster.com/puku/about

 

Problem solved:

Puku is the result of a well-researched effort to understand the market and fill a gap. Parents told us that they struggled with how to help their older children (ages 8-12) with reading and vocabulary, citing the plethora of younger-focused tools and lack of products and content targeted to this age group. They also specifically decried the inability to align existing tools with class curriculum.

Puku solves both of those problems. The app is specifically created for (and tested with) older kids, has content of interest by category as well as ongoing leveled learning, and enables students and teachers to quickly and easily create their own lists, dynamically populated with Merriam-Webster’s trusted definitions.

In addition to taking advantage of our legacy in lexicography in new ways, Puku uses adaptive learning to ensure that every player has a personalized learning experience. The app responds directly to the users’ performance, ensuring that learning is efficient and motivating: kids spend their time on new and challenging vocabulary and get immediate corrective feedback when a word’s meaning eludes them.   

As important, the app is fun to play! It features a virtual pet that grows and evolves as players master new words, in an engaging display that rewards progress. Players are motivated to achieve new levels and see their creature evolve, and develop a sense of attachment and anticipation that leads to more play and more learning.
 

Target age range:  

Puku is primarily targeted to children ages 8-12

Supplemental Activities:

Puku is a vocabulary development app designed for solo play. Although this version of Puku was not designed specifically for the classroom, the app would fit nicely as a supplemental activity in most schools. For instance, it could be used as a supplemental solo activity during a literacy block or various types of free choice academic time including after school “homework” time.

 

 

Subjects addressed:

Puku is a vocabulary development app that helps players acquire grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases.

In addition to all the vocabulary already included in the app, teachers, other adults, and kids can all make and share their own word lists to practice words used in the curriculum. Since the app includes age-appropriate Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions, making and sharing these lists is as simple as selecting words and sharing the generated link!
 

Lesson time needed:

Puku doesn’t require any lesson time at all. Setting up a new player is quick and simple, a tutorial guides users through the intuitive play, and individual progress is tracked.
 

Pricing model:

Puku is free to download, and all users can play two grade-appropriate leveled lists as well as play unlimited lists that are shared with them. A subscription is required to play through all leveled lists, access category content, and create and share lists. In other words, a teacher can pay for one subscription and share all the lists they create with all students, even ones who only have the free version! Subscriptions are $1.99/month.

What makes Puku unique?

Puku provides an engaging vocabulary learning platform for kids 8-12, who are underserved by existing market tools that focus on earlier learning. Its unique combination of leveled learning, categories of interested, and self- or teacher-directed custom lists mean kids can focus on the areas that are right for them. Making lists is fast and easy as they are dynamically populated with trusted Merriam-Webster definitions written specifically for this age level.

Characteristics:

Learning new vocabulary words requires multiple exposures across different contexts. Puku takes players from initial exposure of new vocabulary to deeper learning and understanding through different types of quizzes. Adaptive learning ensures students spend more time on words they struggle with and immediate corrective feedback keeps players on track.

 

 

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