Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2013
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Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic, Jr.!

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Dig into math concepts in three fun games, but no progress reporting

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K This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Short segments of play and the overall theme and design are ideal for young players.

Cons: Limited levels of challenge means little depth to the learning experience.

Bottom Line: Builds on kids' interest in the hit series to develop mathematical thinking.

In a one-iPad classroom, teachers could use the games in Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic, Jr.! to introduce the concepts of addition or ordering. Or they can use it as a station for kids to explore those concepts. In a 1:1 classroom, kids can use the mini-games for practice, but there's no assessment component. After students use this app, try the activities in the dino games -- weighing on a balancing scale or building a simple bridge out of blocks -- in the classroom and relate the hands-on work back to what kids learned in the digital games.

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Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic, Jr.! includes three fun games that require sorting, estimating, and pre-algebra skills. No reading skills are needed, and no login or account required. While there's not much connection with the television series Dinosaur Train beyond the characters and Jurassic setting, kids who enjoy the program will likely be excited to see the familiar characters. Kids need to help the dinosaurs in Troodon Town get ready for the Classic in the Jurassic, Jr. by building a bridge for the dinosaurs to cross, balancing food on a scale so the dinosaurs can chow down, and sorting dinosaurs by size to put them in the right houses. Kids drag their fingers across the space between two cliffs to find the number of logs they'll need for the bridge. They then use early algebra to figure out the right combination of logs to fit the space. To feed the dinosaurs, kids place food on a balance scale to make sure the dinosaurs get the right amount of food. When the scale is properly balanced, the dinosaur can eat. Kids arrange dinosaurs by size and then place them in the right houses. Then, kids can arrange a sticker scene that they can view online with a code. Most kids will complete the three games pretty quickly and may not want to return to it many times after that, since there's no variety or increasing difficulty levels.

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This app isn't about counting or recognizing numbers like so many math apps geared for younger kids, but it gets kids thinking mathematically. It is non-reader friendly, with verbal instructions and multiple chances to get the right answer. There's no tracking or reporting of what skills kids are learning or in which parts of the games a kid may be having difficulty; adding some tracking and reporting would improve this app.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Kids who love Dinosaur Train likely will enjoy the games, which incorporate characters from the PBS show.

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

Three activities prepare kids for early math, but there's not a lot of depth in any of them. The games offer the same activities repeatedly.

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

PBS Kids offers many learning resources for parents and preschoolers via its website. The app doesn't need much instruction. Directions are all verbal; no reading skills are required.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

1
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Featured review by
August D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Ridgewood Elementary School
Eureka, CA
1
Sluggish user interface and choppy animation detract from this simple, early math skills game.

Classic in the Jurassic, Jr. may offer early math skills appropriate for young learners, such as sorting and measurement, but it’s clunky nature makes it frustrating and uninspiring to use. The setting and characters offer some appeal to children familiar with PBS Kids’ series, Dinosaur Train, but it’s likely to lose even the biggest fan’s interest quickly due to poor execution. Moving objects around the screen often requires multiple attempts, and even then can be inaccurate. Also, although the narrating dinosaur should be helpful at guiding non-readers through the games, the voice overs are slow to respond to player actions. I appreciate the attempt to introduce early math skills to preschool/early kindergarten students in a scaffolded way, but much like the game’s dinosaur characters, this app is destined for extinction.

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