The printed version of Mad Libs has taken the prize for silliness for decades, and now the fun has gone digital. This app is an electronic version of this family favorite word game. Fill in the blanks with the requested type of word, then get ready to roar at the crazy story that results when your words are inserted into the story you’ve never heard before.
21 free stories to choose from
Interactive hints and word banks
Stickers, badges, and other awards for playing
Optional connection to the Game Center
Solo, partner or group play
Mad Libs is a very high-quality app. Designers did a great job of creating easy-to-use functions that simplify game play and support language arts skills and vocabulary development. Features are intuitive to use and find. Players can use the swipe gesture to move to the next screen or tap the button on the virtual keyboard, giving options for how to use the system.
Mad Libs has long been a favorite of many teachers because kids are always so excited to play. What student doesn’t love a healthy dose of nonsense? It’s a great way to dress up the otherwise dull and boring task of learning parts of speech and improving vocabulary.
The digital version of the game works exactly the same way as the printed version. Players are asked to fill in blanks with words of given parts of speech that eventually will be inserted into a story. The catch is that players do not know much about the story when they think up their words, so nearly any word they provide will lend itself to the game’s quirky humor. And students get loads of practice providing adjectives, singular or plural nouns, verbs, adverbs, and more. The app throws in a few benefits that the paper game does not, however. Each requested word includes the option for a definition of the part of speech and a list of suggestions to consider if your own creativity is running dry. This not only will help kids internalize their knowledge of English grammar, but it also makes it easier for younger students to play the game independently without constantly having to ask, “Now, what’s an adverb again?”
Somehow the craziness of Mad Libs never seems to go out of style. The game has been around at least as long as I have (we won’t say exactly how old I am, but I remember playing in the 1960s). Anything with that kind of staying power has to have lasting appeal. I also like that this version is set up for solo, partner or group play, just like the printed versions of the game. The suggestions are a very nice feature, as well, and will help most kids move beyond the very simple words that some are prone to using.
It’s hard to beat free and fun! Mad Libs is free to download and comes with 21 built-in stories that can be used again and again. Players will have hours of fun, and the app is perfect to occupy kids during waiting times or car rides. There are in-app purchases available to get more collections, and developers also indicate that they are adding additional free content.
For the most part, this app is trying very hard to be child-friendly. When users start up for the first time, they are asked to enter their birthdates, which the app uses to decide if kids are old enough to access the Game Center and the App Store on their own (13 is the magic number). The app remembers the last age entered, so be careful if there are players of different maturity levels. If the player has entered an age below 13 years, Game Center just keeps track of private statistics and the App Store and sharing features are protected by a relatively simple multiplication problem (such as 4 x 10). This app could use a more effective parent gate, and should protect the age entry screen so that parents do the entering to prevent mischievous kids from fibbing about their ages.
One big concern is that the “more apps” section that is located at the bottom of the story list screen is not protected at all. Tapping one of the other apps available for purchase will trigger the parent gate, but even if that question is not answered correctly, the app still attempts to open the App Store. The link, however, leads to a “page not found” error but the child can easily find themselves outside of the app and in an open browser.
NO 3rd party ads
YES in-app purchases (protected, but visible)
YES “more apps” (partially protected, but visible)
YES external links (partially protected, but visible)
Mad Libs, the word game that makes learning parts of speech worthwhile, is great fun for players of all ages and stages. There’s something timeless about nonsense, and this app hides significant learning beneath a layer of fun.