Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2013
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Dinorama

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Fun, entrepreneurial sim encourages kids to make smart money moves

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
2-5 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Addictive gameplay keeps kids engaged in an ad-free app.

Cons: There's no option for multiple accounts, and there’s no help menu.

Bottom Line: Dinorama is a safe and fun way for students to learn real-world financial concepts.

Teachers can use this great simulation game to teach lessons on entrepreneurship and money management, although the overall lesson might be how to multitask. The design may look childish and geared toward younger kids, but the challenges and skills are geared toward older kids (or even adults).

You can't set up multiple accounts or players, so two kids can't share a device and play their own games at different times. With COPPA compliance and no in-app purchases or ads, it's appropriate for classroom use.

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In this simulation game, kids develop their entrepreneurial spirit as they run a dinosaur theme park. They have to multitask to address the ups and downs of their business -- on stormy, slow days as well as sunny, busy ones -- while keeping the animals and their customers happy.

They take care of their dinosaurs by feeding and cleaning up after them and maintaining their cages. They make decisions about attractions, like a photo booth or a cafe, to buy for their park, what to feed the dinosaurs, and how to invest their money. If the animals aren't well-fed, they run away. If the paying visitors' needs aren't met, they leave. If the park doesn't offer the attractions people want, they don't visit.

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In this fun, project-based learning experience, students practice decision-making, learn some economics, and see the consequences of their actions. They also learn some subtle lessons about making wise choices. When they feed their dinosaurs junk food, for example, they get silly immediately, but then they're tired and hungry again very soon. Sometimes, the junk food is less expensive than the wholesome food, too, forcing kids to make a forward-thinking decision. Kids also see that some additions bring in more money, while others offer no added value. When they hire the tour guide, kids can learn some dinosaur facts, if they can rest long enough to read the dialogue.

Instructions are minimal. Some concepts are explained when they're introduced, but if students are distracted (and with all that's going on, they could be), they could miss the explanation, and there's no way to access it again.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

It's so fun that kids (or adults) might not realize they've been playing for hours.

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

Kids learn many important life skills about decisions and economics, but everything moves at such a busy pace that teachers may need to plan some reflection or debriefing time to process what's being learned.

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 interactions are intuitive, and brief instructions introduce new gameplay aspects. Otherwise, there's little direction or help offered.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Michelle N. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Lebanon Senior High School
Lebanon, PA
4
An addictive and engaging lesson in responsibility and entrepreneurship!

An updated take on the lemonade stand, Dinorama is a fun (some would say addictive) way to teach students the basics of running a business. Dinorama feels like an educational mashup of the Sims and Tamagatchi pets, making this a great app for younger students, or students who are young at heart. Initially, students become engaged in taking care of their dinosaur and the general upkeep of their attractions. As students spend more money on keeping their dinosaurs fed and happy, the urge to expand their business (and make more money) becomes increasingly strong. Students soon begin to showcase their wealth and of course, their menagerie of dinosaurs. The drawback to this app, other than cost ($1.99, though sometimes you can catch it for free) is that it is solely individual. Unless students have access to a tablet or phone, the app is not ideal for mainstreamed education. *Side Note: Due to the graphical interface of the app, ESL students quickly catch on to the app tasks.

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