Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2012
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Barefoot World Atlas

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Visually stunning 3-D globe piques students' interest in world facts

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Teachers say (4 Reviews)
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1-5 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: World music, high-quality graphics, easy navigation, and the smooth voice of the BBC's Nick Crane make this an engaging reference tool.

Cons: There aren't any games or an organized rewards system for visiting different regions.

Bottom Line: Dive right in to world geography with a beautiful, interactive globe full of narratives and photos of different cultures and traditions.

For classroom use, Barefoot World Atlas can function as a geography supplement, with many pros and only a few cons. The animated 3-D world is visually stunning, and most kids will find at least a few images that will spark their interest in different areas of the world, including their own. The live facts about countries -- like time, weather, and average carbon dioxide emissions -- lend a sense of immediacy and globalization. Kids can quickly and easily compare their lives to the experiences of others.

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Paper atlas, meet the Digital Age with Barefoot World Atlas. Flip through and find animations and real-time data from around the world to bring facts to life. Kids spin or pinch a beautifully animated 3-D globe to find and zoom in on objects they want to learn about. Then, by touching icons, they can access high-quality photos and short descriptions, which they can read themselves or have read to them by BBC presenter Nick Crane. Starting points abound: Kids explore by region, highlighted feature, or country names listed on icons at the top left.

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It's easy to see students getting happily lost in 100 topics, including flags, animals, cultures, science, hobbies, landmarks, natural landscapes, and zany facts. Kids might even feel like they're really visiting other places. If you select a country's flag, you'll see the current conditions in that country, including time, distance from you (if you enable location-finding), and current weather.

Great detail: Barefoot World Atlas has a sizable soundtrack that changes to relevant music as you focus on different parts of the world. Also, kids can build a list of favorite countries, regions, or features by tapping the star icon. A major downside is its size. It's 1.67 GB -- ouch. Also, there's no game or any organized tracking system to encourage kids to continue to explore Barefoot World Atlas's loads of content. That said, the upsides way outnumber the downsides. 

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

With beautiful graphics, photos, high-quality narration, and fun facts, this reference app easily draws kids into learning. It puts kids in charge of their learning.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

By browsing the world, kids glean a sense of national and regional identities as well as their own global context. Tapping an icon triggers a brief description, audio narration, or, often, a photo.

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

Most of the educational material is narrated, so even younger kids can use Barefoot World Atlas. You can't keep track of where you've been, but you can bookmark your favorites.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Andy K. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Mather Heights Elementary School
Mather, CA
2
Pretty but Content and Engagement Falls Far Short

I would not recommend this as a teaching tool. In this age of media and technology, it takes more than a pretty interface to get the job done. Content is disjointed and limited: for example, California has two items to click "The Golden Gate Bridge" and "Los Angeles." A great addition would be Interactive scavenger hunts or games that bring purpose to clicking around the world.

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