Friday, March 30, 2012

Barefoot World Atlas

Barefoot World Atlas was created by Touch Press and is an interactive 3D globe. This app boasts narration by geographer and BBC TV presenter, Nick Crane and illustrations by artist David Dean and it packs a lot of info in. I'm telling you all this to soften the blow of the price tag - it might be worth it... Price: $7.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPad.Requires iOS 5.0 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: This app is a pretty cool and offers up tons of information about the world. Kids will love the interactive nature of it as it makes it way more interesting than if they were handed an atlas book or books about countries. There's really a "discovery" aspect to this app. I also like that all the text can be read aloud to you so that a beginning reader can also learn some new facts. There are some words that are linked to definitions, which is helpful to learn some new vocabulary. It would be even better if it highlighted the key words that could be repeated to help keep the focus and even reinforce pronunciation (e.g. country names or animal names)  - there's a lot of text, which can be overwhelming for younger kids. The illustrations are kid friendly and the app also includes many photographs as well. As a reference tool, the information here is appropriate for young elementary aged kids and this app is a great way to engage them in a topic they might otherwise find boring. Rating: 4.5/5 (aim for around 8 years)

Balance: There is sooooo much information here. Kids can get lost in it and lose focus or they just might lose interest because they don't really have a purpose and thus don't know what they should be looking at. The app is pretty easy to use and it contains a couple of overall menu's - you can choose what region, country, or feature. It might be more helpful to break it down even further - menus for animals, food, etc., so that kids can focus in on a topic too.  As is, I view this app more as a reference tool, but to take it to that next step of being more of a teaching tool, any features that could help focus or in a way, limit the information they access at a given moment, would help. Rating: 4/5

Sustainability: Again, there is so much information here that kids can keep coming back and discover something new. What I find lacking is a goal or purpose. It'd be great if there were some prompts or activities that could help guide the kids to specific information. Things like, "Where would you like to go on vacation?" Or "Discover five new animals" - just very general prompts for searching. I really think this would help enrich their experience. Rating: 4/5

Parental Involvement: This is an app where I think parents might be more likely to assume that if their child is using it, they must be learning. There is no doubt that this app contains great educational information. But I really caution parents - because there is so much information, so much to click through and see - kids may not actually absorb the information as much as they could be. This is definitely an app where I would encourage parents to take an active part - they might actually learn something too. Rating: 3/5

Total: 15.5 out of 20 = 4 stars

Disclosure - I received this app for free for review purposes.

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