Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2012
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American Presidents for iPad

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Well-rounded, interactive history and presidential textbook

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Grades
6-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Mix of primary sources and secondary sources offers lots of options for history classes.

Cons: Text can run a bit long in some categories, just like in a real textbook.

Bottom Line: Valuable history resource makes maps, speeches, documents, and facts easily accessible.

You can use it for whole-class instruction on specific periods or presidents. Show kids the map visuals of the colonies, or how the U.S. changed with the Louisiana Purchase and other expansion. The app gives handy access to the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constutition, important presidential speeches, the election process, and election results, which are all relevant to classroom discussion. Plus, you can let kids check their own understanding with the quizzes included.

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American Presidents for iPad is an app containing a timeline from 1789 to the present, focusing on major U.S. events and presidential terms. You can scroll through, tap on events, or click cartoon images of the presidents to get more details. Presidential pages include 1,500-word descriptions and photo galleries. Extras include eight quizzes and a map showing the growth of U.S. territory. You can also use simple menus to view the text of important documents and speeches. And if you want even more presidential deets, external links suggest further exploration on sites like Wikipedia and Real Clear Politics.

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American Presidents for iPad presents a ton of historical info in an integrated and clean format. Kids will like the cartoon illustrations, which are supplemented by high-quality photos and paintings that give a realistic view of presidential life. However, longish, dry sections of text below these images are less engaging. The timeline format is easy to use, and it's helpful to see major events alongside presidential terms. Showing the amendments on the timeline along with the text of important documents and, in particular, presidential speeches, is a great touch. The interactive maps are helpful, and the easy access to all this info is valuable for teaching research. Overall, it's like an interactive history textbook that contains so much info that it would be way too heavy to carry in traditional book form -- but it doesn't go too far beyond what a real book can do.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

The cartoon caricatures of the presidents might interest kids, but most of the info here comes from dry blocks of text; not so engaging.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Info on the presidents goes deeper than the usual brief biography; kids can visualize history's people and events using the timeline and interactive maps.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

An information screen shows how to play, which is pretty intuitive. Quizzes are scored, but no data is saved for each user.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Stefanie S. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
3
Good but ot my favorite for presidents

We liked the app and did use it for the intended purpose, to learn about presidents, but much preferred the interactivity, graphics, design, sound, and quirky facts that we were looking for from the Disney American Presidents app.

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