Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

Intro to Geography - North America, by Montessorium

From Canada to Cuba, learn the shapes, names, and flags of N. America
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 2
  • Kids can learn to identify the locations, shapes, and flags of North America's nations.
  • Concise written and verbal instructions guide kids through each activity.
  • Flags add a colorful and cultural element to the map studies.
  • The Road Map shows player's progress.
  • As kids progress, they are required to recall more countries in different ways.
Pros
Clear maps, organized presentation, and lots of repetition promote solid recall.
Cons
Map activities lack human interest elements, such as culture-based icons, photos, or topographical info.
Bottom Line
Kids become familiar with maps of North America as they learn about its countries and flags.
Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

This attractive app can be engaging for kids who stay focused on the beautiful maps and colorful flags. However, kids who need more interactivity than just tapping and swiping, and more visuals than maps and flags, might become bored.

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

The multiple activities that require kids to recall the names, shapes, locations, and flags of North America in different ways promote memorization and retention. There's not a lot of depth, just basic map and flag facts.

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

Clear, focused verbal instructions and brief informational paragraphs offer explanations for each activity. More progress information would help parents and teachers know which countries kids have mastered.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Use Intro to Geography - North America as a map memorization resource for students learning about North America. It may be a good idea to supplement this app with more hands-on learning to bring the maps to life. For example, post pictures, visit websites, and provide picture books that include information and images related to the countries' cultures and landscapes, or make small paper flags that kids can color and glue to popsicle sticks to create a North American countries flag display. Discuss the vast differences in the countries of North America in culture, climate, and cuisine -- from icy Greenland to steamy Guatemala and everywhere in between.

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What's It Like?

Intro to Geography - North America, by Montessorium is designed to help kids learn the names, shapes, locations, and flags of countries within the North American continental region, including Central American countries and island nations. Kids hear verbal instructions for each activity -- all of which involve memorization and recall of facts -- and follow a progress road map to unlock succeeding activities. Tap the first puzzle piece on the road map to begin. A map of one portion of North America appears along with colored icons representing three countries. The narrator says, "Can you place the countries?" Kids then move the icons for each into the puzzle-like map. When they're done, three more countries appear. Other activities include matching a country to its name and drawing lines to match a flag to a country, as well as more variations on each puzzle map matching, such as a full map challenge with all North American countries.

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Is It Good For Learning?

If you're looking for an app to help students memorize North American nation names and placement on the map, this is an excellent option. This is not the app to choose, however, if you're looking for detailed information about each country; it doesn't include statistics or facts about population, topography, capital city names, culture, or climate. The activities help kids conceptualize the whole-part relationship between the continent of North America and the countries within it. Kids can learn which countries border each other and which are the largest and smallest countries, discover island nations, and even experience a tiny bit of culture by viewing the flags. Still, the learning experience would be greatly improved with the addition of some photos and a bit of information about life in each nation, as well as more interactivity and some hands-on extension activities. Because visuals are limited to maps, country names, and flags, these loosely Montessori-inspired activities are best suited for use with kids in mid- to upper-elementary grades. As it stands, Intro to Geography - North America is a very narrowly focused (but effective for its purpose) geography app.

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