Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2014
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Homes by Tinybop

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Explore homes -- and cultures -- around the world in exquisite detail

Subjects & skills
Skills
N/A

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • World Languages
  • English Language Learning
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K-3
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Impressive interactive elements and details engage and empower kids.

Cons: Controls and navigation can be a bit tricky.

Bottom Line: Offers a delightful and accessible way for kids to learn about the world's cultures.

Teachers could use Homes by Tinybop to kick off a unit on other cultures or on homes, letting kids explore and develop their own questions for learning. The app would be useful for a class of ELL students or a dual-language classroom because of the number of language options available. With tags turned on, kids can easily change languages and learn a bit of vocabulary in English, Spanish, French, German, and Chinese. Students could then choose a different region to research, either individually or in small groups. They could write about the people they think live in each home or discuss how their homes are similar and different. Teachers could also use the home tours with a mini-lesson on inference, showing kids how they can infer things from what they observe in each home. The Dashboard includes a handbook with more ideas, and the News section includes some lesson plans.

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Homes by Tinybop is an interactive tour of homes around the world, in which kids see how other people live, eat, sleep, and play. It's all a discovery process with no instructions, so kids are free to explore on their own. Starting from a world map, kids choose to explore a home in the United States, Guatemala, Yemen, or Mongolia. They can view the home from the outside, or get an x-ray-like view of the interior and then enter and explore each part of the home by tapping where they want to go. Kids see the types of foods the people who live in the homes eat, and even get to prepare some of it. They can explore bathrooms -- some aren’t inside! -- and see how laundry is done. Kids can explore freely, or teachers can use the handbook in the Dashboard section for background information or to reveal some of the interactive elements.

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Kids learn about cultures around the world, seeing what homes look like, inside and out, and what the people eat. They can make inferences about the people based on what they see in the homes -- how the residents spend their free time, how they do chores, and the conveniences they enjoy. The handbook offers more detail about the homes, the culture, and the architecture as well as thought-provoking questions. Using the tags in different languages, kids can also practice learning another language or simply developing their vocabulary. 

The message -- there are many ways to make a home -- is lovely. The cultural education kids get is important. The fun and surprising interactive features are engaging. But it's the attention to detail that amazes! Subtle background noises hint to what's going on around each home -- for example, sirens and honking cars in the Brooklyn brownstone, chirping crickets and singing birds in the Guatemalan adobe home. Interactive features seem almost endless -- wash dishes, read books, play with toys, sew clothes, prepare food, play records, use the bathroom, and more. It's not perfect, though. Controls are a bit tricky, especially for little hands, so kids may miss some of the fun and learning trying to figure them out.

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Overall Rating

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

Despite some tricky controls, kids can explore and discover on their own or with hints from the handbook. Interactive features are fascinating and fun.

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

Without direct instruction, kids learn what life is like in other parts of the world. They explore and interact, as they learn about the world's people, what they eat, and how they live.

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

Dashboard includes an impressive handbook and manages accounts for multiple kids across all Tinybop apps. Languages can be customized from 50 options.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Margaret A P. , Other
Other
The Agnes Irwin School
Rosemont, PA
Students can travel the world and learn a bit about homelife around the globe

I like that this app is open-ended and encourages students to touch, interact, and explore. I appreciate the way that students can "pull back the curtain" to things like how the electricity and water flow and look inside the homes as well as explore the gardens, animals, and area outside. The integration of the camera, to create real reflections in the mirrors and allow students to decorate with their own photos is also a great feature which can start discussions about family, heritage, and traditions. I wish there was a way for students to dive deeper into the cultures of each place within the app after their initial explorations and it would be great if they added more cities. There are some great prompting questions in the handbook, accessible via the settings in the app, to guide classroom discussions and help students learn more about architecture, utilities, and household activities in each place. I think this is a valuable classroom tool when students are learning about geography and cultures around the world.

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