Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2014
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Discover Paris

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Superficial activities limit a journey to the City of Light

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Math
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K-2
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Pros: Guided landmark tours offer great insights about French history and culture.

Cons: Activities are too simplistic for grade-school students and do little to promote deep learning. Most features are only available through in-app purchase.

Bottom Line: While Discover Paris offers an amusing tour of Paris landmarks, its features and learning potential are limited, even in the paid version.

Teachers might encourage students to explore different Paris sites and make note of the historical facts they learn. Teachers might also encourage students to discuss why these sites are important to French people, and they might ask kids to design their own app and consider which landmarks in their own cities might be featured.

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Discover Paris takes users on a tour of major sites and historical monuments in Paris. The user's guide is a friendly owl who gently but firmly directs the game's action, giving users verbal introductions to great landmarks like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and then asking questions about the sites' historical and cultural significance.

Unfortunately, after just three site visits, users are prompted to pay to access the rest of the sites on the map. While it costs just $1.99 to continue the journey, it's disconcerting to pay without a sense of the price up front. Parents and teachers can create accounts that allow them to track students' progress, while kids can monitor their own progress through the sites on the main menu's map of Paris. Surprisingly, the app can't be used offline without an Internet connection, which might limit some users' access.

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While there's some great information offered at each landmark, other insights are limited or simply incorrect. (Most glaringly: At the Paris Opera, the owl guide indicates Beethoven never wrote an opera. In fact, he wrote one -- it's called Fidelio.) The activities at each site are superficial and repetitive -- like using a measuring tape to measure the Eiffel Tower or the obelisk at the Place de la Concorde. Between sites, users are prompted to squeeze a cloud to make it rain, close a treasure chest to "get" the sun as a reward, or move a seed into a dresser drawer. These activities have nothing to do with deep learning, and they seem a little simplistic for elementary school students who can readily read and spell.

Ultimately, the app seems to have been developed by thoughtful people who love French language and culture; unfortunately, the built-in activities do little to promote deep learning or lasting cultural appreciation. 

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Overall Rating

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

Users visit beautiful, historic sites around Paris and hear engaging stories about their significance. Unfortunately, activities at each site are a little simplistic for students in the target age range.

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

Although the owl's stories at each site are interesting, activities can be repetitive and lack meaningful challenges.

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

Parents and teachers can track students' progress, but there are few ways to record or encourage a user's progress through each site. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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