Review by Amanda Finkelberg, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2012
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Britannica Kids: Ancient Rome

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Images, maps, and games somewhat overshadowed by heavy text

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Social Studies

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
5–8
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Pros: Articles are well-written and pop up difficult vocabulary words.

Cons: Not much chance for critical thinking, as it's mostly articles and pictures.

Bottom Line: Britannica Kids: Ancient Rome is an uncomplicated reference tool for looking up facts and vocabulary.

Teachers looking for a kid-friendly reference tool might find Britannica Kids: Ancient Rome helpful, but it's best used as a supplement to more involved activities. You do get a few fun activities that encourage kids to spend more time interacting with the material. For example, a satellite map of the world lets kids explore Ancient Roman landmarks and historical locations by tapping tags to see images. A multiple-choice review quiz includes questions like, "What does the emperor Caligula's name mean?" and "What were the Roman household gods called?" Unfortunately, kids get no constructive or informative feedback on quiz results -- that's up to you.

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Britannica Kids: Ancient Rome contains articles adapted from the Britannica Student Encyclopedia on ancient Rome. Articles are broken down into subsections, and key concepts are highlighted with pop-up definitions. Articles, which are concise and digestible, cover topics from "The Rise of Rome" to "Art and Architecture" to "Roman Mythology." Each one has illustrations and highlighted keywords, which pop up definitions when they're tapped. Kids can turn any image into jigsaw or sliding puzzles and map landmarks on an interactive map to get a more realistic sense of the Roman Empire's size. Seventy-five color images of gods, architecture, and other aspects of Ancient Rome enliven things a bit, and there's a video showing scenes of Roman landmarks.

The Play menu lets you interact with the content in fun and familiar ways. For example, in addition to the puzzles, kids can "brush off" sand to reveal an image, then name the image. They can also test their memories with an Ancient Rome image concentration game.

Britannica Kids: Ancient Rome is a handy reference tool, and kids can read a wealth of historical information, but there's little support for students to make connections to events in their own lives. It's also heavy on text and light on interactivity. More features that allow kids to bookmark articles, highlight and annotate text, or connect to more rich multimedia content would be ideal.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

You can't get lost: The slick navigation makes it easy for kids to explore a range of topics. The large amounts of text could turn off some kids, but the images and just-for-fun puzzles will boost their interest.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Content is written mostly in the same form. Multimedia components are limited, although the interactive map helps kids connect history to their lives. Kids could more actively process information if they could annotate or highlight it.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

It's not a complicated tool. Still, audio support would make the materials more accessible to kids with diverse learning needs.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Lynn S. , Other
Other
The Montclair Kimberley Academy
Montclair, United States
A pocket encyclopedia on ancient Rome...but not much more

The Britannica Kids: Ancient Rome app is well organized and easy to use.

The heart of the app is a collection of articles on a variety of topics relating to ancient Rome, including the Republic, the Caesars, gladiators, art and architecture and mythology. These articles are well written and go into more depth than one would expect for a phone app.

Key words are linked to definitions, but there are no links within the articles to direct the reader to additional information within the app ...

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