Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2016

Four Little Corners - An interactive storybook app about friendship

Simple story about shapes showcases problem-solving and inclusion

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Grades
Pre-K-1 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Clean, crisp, and simple design is aesthetically pleasing and manages to arouse compassion.

Cons: Story is very short, and limited interactive features don't allow much room for growth or continued exploration.

Bottom Line: This cute little story could be a nice launching pad for big discussions about friendship, tolerance, and acceptance.

Four little corners is most powerful when used as a way to spark students' thinking about some important messages. Help them relate to both the circles and the square. Think about the problem the characters face and the ideas they have for solutions. Ask why cutting the door is the best solution. How did that change the rules for who could enter the house? Ask kids to share times when they have persevered, even through failures. Lead some small group discussions about the larger themes of tolerance, acceptance, and friendship.

Read the For Parent's guide in the app's settings menu for more discussion ideas. Ask students if they have ever been in a situation in which they were the square. How about one of the circles? How did it feel? How did they handle the problem, and how did that solution make them feel? Which other solutions might have been possible? Refer to the story at strategic times when kids may find themselves in relevant situations in the classroom.

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Four little corners is a story with a message. One square plays happily with a bunch of circles. When the circles are called to go inside, the square is the only one who can't get through the circle-shaped door. Square tries various things to change its shape, and the circles suggest that Square cut off its corners. Finally, they realize that the best solution is to cut the door into a square so that Square and the circles can fit -- and everyone plays together happily again. Each page has a small amount of text, which is read aloud, and each has a few interactive features.

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Reading Four little corners is a pleasant experience: The text is minimal and straightforward, the animations are simple and sometimes clever, and the soundtrack captures the different moods at each stage. There's certainly a worthy message; however, kids may need additional input and guidance to ensure that the message does not fly over their heads. Each page has some potential for interaction, though students' ability to affect the action on the screen is quite limited and sometimes even distracting.

Because the story is so short and has limited interactive features, it doesn't have much room to grow and may not have staying power. The usefulness and appeal of this app could depend on how much teachers want to encourage reading the story as a launching pad for some important group discussions. This super-simple, direct story delivers a double set of nice messages: persevering to solve a problem and tolerance, acceptance, and the importance of being yourself.

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Overall Rating
4

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

Even though they're only simple shapes, the story makes a bunch of circles and a square into appealing and relatable characters. It's unclear, however, how many times students will want to revisit this very simple app.

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

Follow the square and circles as they work their way through solving a problem. The major themes of friendship, inclusion, and tolerance likely need additional, outside support from a grown-up.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

The app's For Parents section has a helpful reading guide to spark conversation. Kids can read themselves or be read to in a variety of languages.