Improve Vocabulary with the Merriam-Webster Puku App for Kids

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Disclosure: I’m partnering with Merriam-Webster to share this information with you. All opinions are my own.

For years, my kids and I have used the Merriam-Webster app to look up new words. But recently, Merriam-Webster launched Puku, a new vocabulary app specifically for children ages 8 to 12. It’s a gamified way to learn and practice new words, their meanings, and their spellings! This gives my children and yours a fun new way to increase vocabulary and subsequently improve reading comprehension.

Puku vocabulary building app for kids

The Importance of Improving a Child’s Vocabulary

Vocabulary not only is foundational for reading comprehension but it also gives kids the language for thought, allowing kids to express themselves orally and in writing. Which is why an app like Puku is so important.

Children learn new words through conversations, developing an oral vocabulary. As parents and caregivers, we add in reading books out loud to our children which continues enriching a child’s knowledge of words. As they grow, we play vocabulary games and include other vocabulary-building activities

Why do we do this? Because the more words children know, the better. Knowing words, having a larger vocabulary, improves cognition and literacy skills in particular.

Teachers and parents, if you have children or students ages 8 – 12, help them build their vocabulary with the Puku app.

Because it’s a great opportunity to improve a child’s vocabulary.

What Is the Merriam-Webster Puku App for Kids?

The Puku ad-free app can be downloaded for free with many fun vocabulary activities to explore. However, the richness, at least in my opinion, comes with a paid subscription of $1.99 a month.

With a subscription, you can customize the words to your child’s age so they can play leveled word lists that grow with them. As players learn the words, the words will increase in difficulty. I love this feature because it’s customized to exactly where your kids are.


Not only that, but kids with a subscription also can play vocabulary games in a lot more categories. From Science to Fashion to Holidays and Mythology, there are so many categories of words to explore.

Both in the free and subscription version of Puku, if players get an answer wrong, the Puku app lets you know. In the example below, I choose the wrong word for the definition. The Puku app shows me the correct answer so that I can learn from my mistake.

The same feedback applies to correct answers, too. Puku lets you celebrate by growing the virtual pet worm. Cute, right?

What Is My Favorite Thing About the Puku App?

But the best thing about Puku, what both my tester and I love the most is to create your own customized word lists.

My tester found it to be PERFECT for learning her weekly spelling list from school. Here’s why it was so helpful…

  1. You really get to know the words.
  2. You practice spelling the words.
  3. You pick the best definition and are subsequently quizzed on that definition and word combination.
  4. The game tells you if you get an answer wrong and what the right answer is.
  5. The game encourages you if you get the answer right. (The little robot worm grows!)
  6. This feature is useful when learning content area words, to prep for tests, or just to study any vocabulary list.

Improve Vocabulary with the Merriam-Webster Puku App for Kids

How do you make your own lists?

First, players add the words to a new “create your own” word list.

After spelling the word, like the word “ingredient” show below, players are given a choice of Merriam-Webster definitions. Select the definition that either best correlates with a vocabulary list from school or that makes the most sense to you.

Once you have your completed word list, it’s time to play and practice.

Puku gives players two fun activities –spelling and definition/word matching. You can see examples in the two words below (“catastrophe” and “deter”).

And before you know it, you’ll have learned all the words on your list! In a fun, gamified way.

What a valuable tool, right?

Improve Vocabulary with the Merriam-Webster Puku App for Kids

It’s not always easy to find ways for kids ages 8 – 12 to learn new words. The Puku can help your children build their vocabulary, improve their spelling, express themselves better, and deepen literacy skills.

With whom will you share this app?

To download Merriam-Webster’s Puku app, visit the Merriam Webster website.

Improve Vocabulary with the Merriam-Webster Puku App for Kids

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