Teachers can set up an account with the student's name, which will then be used in the games. Only one student account can be active at a time, but it can be deleted to add a new one. Teachers can also customize a student's reading level and set a time limit for play -- 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or 45 minutes. Teachers can find myriad uses for the app in class. If working with an individual student, use the game to practice personal narrative writing; let the student play for a few minutes before reading the narrative of the dinosaur's day together as a model text. From there, have the student write their own personal narratives without the app's scaffolding. With your whole class, you can use the question spinner to help kids develop open-ended questions. For independent play, have kids choose one dinosaur or fossil to research and present to the class.
Dino Tales is an educational game teaching kids about dinosaurs while also helping them develop some descriptive writing skills. Using their dino avatar, kids will roam around the island, discovering and hatching eggs and keeping their dinosaurs fed. They'll learn facts about each dinosaur by generating their own questions, playing around with the dinosaurs, and reading books about their adventures. Kids can feed and play with the dinosaurs, moving them with finger controls or painting them in different colors; throughout the game, kids collect different awards for their discoveries. The dinosaur guide, Darwin, answers questions, too, that kids customize from a scrolling list of words. Once they've hatched a dinosaur and explored with it, they can read the story of its journey, choosing the best words to customize their tale.
Despite a robotic-sounding dinosaur narrator and awkward controls, kids will enjoy learning about dinosaurs and playing with language in this rich, layered world. To navigate their dinosaur around the world, kids will have to use some directional arrows rather than just guiding them with their fingers on the screen. The latter seems like it might be more intuitive; as it stands, navigation can be a bit tricky and may frustrate some kids. Some better hints around navigation -- without becoming too prescriptive -- might also help. Also, the Darwin character's voice is very obviously computer-generated. Nevertheless, the varied activities -- creating questions, discovering treasures, painting dinosaurs, reading stories, and investigating the island -- can keep kids entertained, engaged, and learning.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.
With prompting and support, read informational texts appropriately complex for grade 1.
By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 2–3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of “how-to” books on a given topic and use them to write a sequence of instructions).
With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.
Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).
Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
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