Children need dictionaries just like adults—perhaps even more so. As they learn the language and are exposed to new words, having a reliable resource that can present the meanings of new words in a way that is appropriate for their age is a must. Not only do they learn new words, they also develop research skills and confidence in their ability to comprehend the world.
You can find all sorts of dictionaries online, but only a few are structured specifically for children. What makes a dictionary a... "dictionary for kids?" Good question. You want to look for ones that are age-appropriate and use language accessible to young(er) readers. Here are a few that fit the bill.
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Word Central uses the Merriam-Webster dictionary to provide results. If a user misspells a word, the dictionary offers suggestions for the correct spelling. It also suggests words that may have multiple interpretations. For example, a search for "scientist" yields a number of results, including "Earth scientist," "social scientist" and "political science."
Each definition also offers a link to an audio file of the proper pronunciation of the word.
Kids can browse... the dictionary or find games on the Word Central site to challenge language and spelling skills. The site also offers a "daily buzzword."
In addition to its dictionary, the Word Central website includes a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary, making this site even more useful for students.
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This dictionary is geared towards young learners. It is designed to be browsed rather than searched, and in this way, it behaves more like an encyclopedia than a dictionary. Each entry has an illustration and a definition or explanation of the word. Many entries include links to more information.
The words in the Little Explorers dictionary range from extremely common ("hair") to relatively obscure ("Queen Alexandra's birdwing butterfly"—which is the largest butterfly in the... world, according to Little Explorers). The site offers multi-language versions including French, English-Dutch, English-German, English-Spanish, English-Swedish and English-Japanese, among others.
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Kids.Wordsmyth is a full-featured dictionary with entries that include pronunciations, animations, synonyms, photographs and word etymology. Children have the option to search at three different levels: beginner's, children's and advanced.
The beginner's level is the most fundamental, focusing on a simple primary definition. It is called WILD, an acronym for Wordsmyth Illustrated Learner's Dictionary, and it is structured for K-3 readers.
The Word Explorer Children's Dictionary... is for the upper elementary grades, while the Comprehensive Dictionary-Thesaurus Suite is available in three reading levels from elementary to advanced.
Wordsmyth also offers several varieties of search, including browse, search filters that focus your search by filtering out entries that don't fit your specified criteria, reverse search and A-Z word parts kids can search by roots and affixes.
Wordsmyth offers a subscription option, and some features of the site are restricted to subscribers.
The site hosts a few different types of quizzes, so kids can use it as a practice tool as well.
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The Kids.Net.Au website guides young children in searching for words that begin with a specific letter, providing examples for every letter of the alphabet. It also provides a traditional search field the children can use to search more than 100,000 words. Each day, new random words are featured on the site to expand a child's vocabulary.
Kids.Net.Au also provides an encyclopedia and thesaurus that work in a similar manner to the dictionary.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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The BigIQkids online dictionary defines any word a child enters, demonstrates the use of the word in a sentence and provides an audio of the correct pronunciation of the word. Each listing also includes synonyms and antonyms and several games and tests available to the child.
Children can also create their own spelling and vocabulary word lists on the website. Once the list is formed, the site generates spelling and vocabulary games and practice lessons for the words on the list.