Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2015
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MapMaster - Geography game

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Speedy, addicting gameplay builds basic geography knowledge

Common Sense says
Teachers say (3 Reviews)
$avg_user_learning_rating
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Grades
5-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Intuitive features, instant feedback, and social features make gameplay fun -- and a little addicting.

Cons: While there's a lot of info on offer, it's not explored in much depth.

Bottom Line: A solid, entertaining way to explore and test kids' geography knowledge.

Use Mapmaster for exploration or review in a middle school or high school social studies classroom. Challenge kids to explore landforms and famous places in different parts of the world. Have kids pick the games that match the continents, regions, or landmasses you're studying in class. If kids have Google accounts -- like if you use Google Apps for Education at school -- have kids sign in to their Google accounts and play against each other in multiplayer modes. Keep in mind that there are both timed and untimed versions of the app's core game; pick the game that best fits your students' needs.

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MapMaster is a geography quiz and study app. From the main screen, users encounter six buttons: Pinpoint Game, Time Attack, Study Mode, Multiplayer, Achievements, and Leaderboards. Three of those buttons lead to game options: Pinpoint Game (where users drop a pin on a site on a map) and Time Attack (which is the Pinpoint game, but timed) are the two main games, and users can play against other people online via the Multiplayer menu. Each game lets users sort which geographic features or sites they'd like to be tested on: Choices include national capitals, U.S. cities, famous places, and landmarks. And each game requires users to drop a pin on the required site. Users earn points for dropping the pin as close to the correct site as possible (and, in the Time Attack game, as fast as possible). In Study Mode, users can explore the same information on their own, tapping each possible location and then viewing the landmark's Wikipedia page through the in-app browser. The Achievements and Leaderboard menus are only available to users who sign into their Google accounts to play; these display the user's overall results while playing solo and against others.

Users can sign into Google to play against their friends and record their scores in a more public leaderbord. Users must sign in to join external leaderboards and play multiplayer games, but users can play solo in the app without signing in.

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MapMaster is pretty straightforward: This is a geography trivia quiz game, pure and simple. Teachers looking for deeper cultural understanding should expect to extend students' knowledge from here; beyond the Wikipedia article links, there's not much more information to offer context for why these cities, notable sites, or geographic features are notable. That being said, this is a great way to help kids build core geography knowledge. The main difference between the two central games is that one is timed and one is not; this is a nice feature that can help a range of readers and learners find the challenge that best matches their abilities. It's also nice that games get harder as kids progress through them: Pins have to be dropped closer and closer to their correct location in order to register as a correct response. 

The way the categories are organized -- by continent, by geographic feature, or by landmarks -- can help kids concentrate on one thing at a time, making this a suitable companion to a particular unit in a geography or social studies class. These games may remind teachers of a certain age of the map game from the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? television show. Just like that real-life race, this is a fun, challenging, and amusing way for kids to boost their geography knowledge.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

It's great that speed and accuracy are both rewarded, and kids will easily figure out how to tap, pinch, and zoom to move the map and drop the pin. Social features let kids compete with friends and compare all-time high scores.

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

There's learning potential here for the basics: Quizzes are nicely tough and varied. The instant links to Wikipedia are helpful, though teachers should encourage kids to delve more deeply to gain richer cultural understanding.

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

The Help menu is easy to use and the settings are intuitive. After each play, a list of the sites from the last round appears, showing which ones you got right and wrong.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Denise W. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Fairview Elementary School
Roanoke, VA
3
Realistic approach to identifying locations on a map.

I think it has a lot of potential as a stand alone application but I wish it offered more information and facts as part of the game. The game is good and it keeps score and allows to review answers, however that is as far as the game goes. It is also only offered on android, which limits the uses in many school districts. It is engaging and the repetitive nature of the game lends itself to basic knowledge of location. It is easy to use and allows for different difficulty levels, multiple players and tracks incorrect answers.

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