Review by Erin Wilkey Oh, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2012
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Britannica Kids: Aztec Empire

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Aztec history gets a bit closer with articles, puzzles, and more

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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5-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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5 images

Pros: Plenty of articles break down the basics of the history of the Aztec people.

Cons: Heavy on text, it misses opportunities to construct deeper meaning from artifacts and other objects of the era.

Bottom Line: Britannica Kids: Aztec Empire works fine for getting information, but kids can't actively engage with the material.

Articles are appropriate for middle-school students and will help them look up answers to questions. The puzzle games and the "brush-off" activity feel a little young, though. Without the ability to highlight, annotate, or curate text and media, kids can't really analyze and synthesize information or turn their understanding into research reports, for example.

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Britannica Kids: Aztec Empire opens a window on the history of the Aztec people, from their agrarian roots to their downfall at the hands of the Spanish. A main navigation wheel at the bottom center lets kids explore features: seven articles on topics from Aztec rulers to religion, a glossary of the Aztec gods, an interactive map, an image gallery that includes one video, four activities that use images ("Jigsaw Puzzle," "Magic Square," "Memory Match," and "Brush-Off"), and a quiz. Articles are clearly organized with headings and subheadings. Key words are highlighted and in bold, and a pop-up definition appears when kids tap a key word. The quiz is a random set of 10 multiple-choice questions about facts in the articles. Kids can save the results for future reference.

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With the articles, puzzles, photos, and maps, students have a variety of entry points into information about the Aztec people, who lived in what is present-day Mexico. However, despite some engaging activities, the bulk of information is in text. For example, there's only one video. A quiz requires kids to memorize facts but doesn't provide formative feedback. A more effective learning experience might invite kids to curate information from the articles and photos into some kind of report or project, so they could better understand and engage with the material.

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Overall Rating
3

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

The fascinating Aztec world gets unlocked for kids who are researching a school project or are simply interested in ancient cultures. The quiz and puzzle games are fun, and a treasure trove of articles includes beautiful photos.

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

Puzzles and photos are a good entry point for visual learners. More images and interactive features, like a highlighting tool, would help kids solidify concepts.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

Adding spoken text could help readers who need more support.


Common Sense Reviewer
Erin Wilkey Oh Common Sense Education

Teacher Reviews

4
(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Lisa B. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Hershey Middle School
Hershey, PA
4
Aztec Empire history presented with articles, media, & games

<p>A major strength of the app is the images. I love that you can click on them within the text and have them expand. There's also special section for pics and videos, which is slightly mislabeled since there's only one video. Middle school students love sharing what they find interesting. There's a share option for the pictures that auto creates an email with the image and a couple sentence description of the significance. The student would just have to enter the desired recipients email.</p>
<p>There are articles about many aspects of the Aztec life, culture, and history. There were some phrases that you could click on to see the word defined. Which makes the app more it accessible for younger audiences. The articles do not shy away from death, destruction, and sacrifice which is all part of Aztec more. There was a separate section for the Aztec Gods. The description include art found on buildings, pottery, or elsewhere that represent each of the God. The pronunciation guide or embedded audio file would have been nice; I've no idea how to string together the long combinations of letters that meet up the companies.</p>

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