Review by Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2014
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Geography by KIDS DISCOVER

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Interactive textbook teaches kids about the Earth

Subjects & skills
  • Social Studies

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Passages thoroughly cover the basics of geography and incorporate interactive elements such as visual tours of landmarks.

Cons: It fails to lose the textbook feel and doesn't offer accessibility features or support for struggling readers.

Bottom Line: Take a break from the traditional geography textbook, but provide your own supplements for struggling readers.

It won't replace a geography textbook or provide enough material to fill an entire geography unit, but it will serve as a strong introduction to geography basics. Its format makes it ideal for use in a flipped classroom, where students can read the text and go through the activities at home, and then come to class for a more in-depth discussion or activity. In a more traditional social studies classroom, you could incorporate the text into your regular lesson plans. Because the text has different chapters, you may also want to have students read individual chapters as part of a jigsaw activity, where each group reads a different chapter and then combines with members of other groups to share what they learned.

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Geography by KIDS DISCOVER is an interactive textbook that introduces kids to the basics of geography. Kids can explore seven chapters, an activities section, and a quiz. Chapters cover topics such as "Dividing Earth," which introduces latitude and longitude, and "And the River Flows," which discusses the importance of rivers. The chapters include traditional reading passages with some interactive elements, images, and animations mixed in. For example, kids may tap on a photograph to reveal more information or tap on a text box to reveal the answer to a question.

At the end, kids can complete four activities, which include directions for making their own north pointer and a short matching activity where they must determine time zones for particular states. Kids finish by answering five basic multiple-choice questions. They also can visit a list of suggested websites (accessible from within the app) or browse a selection of books on the topic (with links to their respective Amazon pages).

While it incorporates many interactive elements, allowing kids to tap for more information and take virtual tours of geographic locations, Geography by KIDS DISCOVER fails to lose the feel of a traditional textbook. The text-heavy chapters don't feature much sound and lack support for struggling readers such as narration, pronunciation of key words, or a glossary. Though the passages include a wealth of information and a great overview of the basics of geography, the concluding activities and five multiple-choice questions barely begin to cover the information contained within the text. While many kids will enjoy the conversational tone and interactive elements, teachers should consider this as only a supplement to deeper learning activities.

Overall Rating

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

Text-based design incorporates interactive boxes, videos, and movement to encourage kids to keep learning about geography.

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

Kids can access info about all aspects of geography, but final activities lack depth.

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

A tutorial gets kids started, but lack of narration and other supports keeps it from being accessible to some.

Common Sense Reviewer
Stacy Zeiger Homeschooling parent

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