Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2015
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Bones

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So-so study tool teaches bare bone basics

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

Take a look inside

4 images

Pros: Easy-to-browse images and simple quizzes help kids test their knowledge.

Cons: Basic, low-tech diagrams offer minimal interactive elements.

Bottom Line: A decent study tool for basic anatomy, but pop-up ads and inconsistent navigation distract.

Use Bones as a review and study tool when kids are learning about human anatomy. Keep in mind that only about 35 bones or groups of bones are covered, making the app best suited for middle school and early high school years. Have kids work in small groups to review the locations and pronunciations of the bones. Then kids can test their knowledge by taking a quiz, but make sure to specify the parameters of the quiz so you can compare students' scores. As an extension activity, have kids create their own sketches of a skeleton and label all of the bones they learned about.

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Bones is just what it sounds like: a tool for studying the bones of the human body. The main menu is divided into the following pages: Bones, Quiz, Search, Lessons, Videos, and Settings. The names, pronunciations, and diagrams are in the Bones section. Kids can choose from a side menu that lists all of the bones (or, in some cases, groups of bones) and view a diagram that shows the selected bone in red. The diagram can be zoomed in or out and rotated, and it includes the general location of the bone within the body. Each bone diagram also includes a speaker icon (that kids can tap to hear the pronunciation) and a link to more information (which takes kids to Wikipedia). In the Quiz section, kids can take scored quizzes to assess their learning. In the Search section, kids can search for particular bones using tappable diagrams (referred to as charts) or an index, or by typing a bone name into a search field. In the Lessons section, kids can read three short entries about key facts, general organization, and general functions of bones. The Videos section has explanatory video clips about terms that come up in visits to a physician, and the Settings section allows kids to choose settings for the quizzes including number of items, answer type (multiple-choice of fill-in-the-blank), and quiz order.

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Kids can learn the names and locations of more than 35 bones and groups of bones, as well as the basic function and organization of bones. It's extremely helpful that kids can tap to hear the pronunciation of each bone, and the diagrams clearly illustrate locations of the bones. Kids can test their knowledge by taking either a multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank quiz. If they get it wrong, instant feedback is provided in the form of the correct answer, which is appropriate for a topic that involves straight memorization. The video clips are somewhat interesting, but they stray from the topic of anatomy and focus incongruously on patient interactions with a physician. Additionally, the diagrams are a little frustrating; once you search for a bone, you cannot go back to the diagrams. Instead, the app restarts at the home page. 

Overall, this is a good science resource for kids who just need to know the basics, but it needs more features and smoother navigation to be a go-to tool for the classroom. Adding some more interactive elements, a complete skeleton, and more realistic diagrams could improve the learning value.

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Overall Rating

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

Kids can interact with the diagrams by rotating them and zooming in and out, but the diagrams are low-tech, unrealistic, and not very interesting.

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

Diagrams show locations of bones, and a sound button provides the pronunciation of each bone. Kids can take quizzes to test their knowledge. A full, labeled skeleton and more realistic diagrams could be useful.

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

The clean, simple design makes navigation a snap, but there are some frustrations with moving back and forth within a section of the app. The developers have a wide variety of science videos on their YouTube channel.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Jonathan F. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School
Washington, DC
K-8? Don't bother.

The "Bones" button within the app provides a page for each bone that pronounces its name, shows a picture, and provides a link to a Wikipedia article about it. Hearing how to pronounce the name is useful, but the picture would have been more useful if it were a real medical image instead of what appears to be a retro-style charcoal drawing. K-8 teachers might not be thrilled to discover that what appears to be a self-contained app actually routes students to the their device’s web browser to display a Wikipedia article. With sentences like, "Towards the middle on the anterior surface the deep concavity of the nasal notch is the limiting feature," we estimated the reading level to be above high school. If you're searching for specific bones, you may find the text search feature of limited use. The terms “finger, “pinky,” “nose,” and even “cranium” yielded no results, although “cranial” does. The visual search came the closest to being useful for K-8 purposes. You can tap a bone and learn its name. The downside is that pinching and spreading gestures for zooming did not work smoothly, so it’s hard to tap the bone you want. We often ended up selecting something by accident while we were attempting to zoom. Also, once you tap a bone, you need to hit the “back” button before you can tap another one. That takes some of the joy out of the exploration. The video feature was the most disappointing. It lead to a series of videos entitled “Doctor, Doctor” that discussed medical things but didn’t necessarily discuss anything about bones. That was the case, at least, with the two videos we tried. In sum, the app provided little useful content for students our age, and using the app was not especially intuitive.

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