Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2018
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Me: A Kid's Diary

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Unique take on self-exploration relies on prompts to guide reflection

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Arts
  • English Language Arts
  • Health & Wellness

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Character & SEL
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.
2–5
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Pros: Lots of creative prompts get students thinking about who they are and exploring new ways to express themselves.

Cons: There's no open-ended creation; might introduce privacy concerns if students share a device.

Bottom Line: With plenty of ways to express and document their thoughts and more, this app can help students learn something new about themselves.

Teachers can use Me: A Kid's Diary as an exercise in self-expression. Students will practice thinking critically about their own thoughts, dreams, likes, and dislikes while growing more used to expressing themselves. Teachers can have students expand on the app's prompts through extended writing or art projects. Or, students can collaborate and combine prompts, creating a comprehensive, multimedia narrative explaining who they are. For an exercise in perspective-taking and research practice, have students create a diary for someone else, like a historical figure. They may not be able to answer all the prompts, but they sure can have fun, get creative, and be motivated to learn about someone famous by trying. For a STEM spin, turn some prompts into a data gathering and visualization activity: Have all students answer the same set of questions and make a class report using bar graphs, percentages, and other reporting tools.

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Me: A Kid's Diary by Tinybop has students reflect on and document who they are through drawings, photos, writing, and more. Students start by fashioning and naming their avatar and choosing their favorite color, both of which become the background for their unique identity map full of iconography. Tap on any of the floating bubble icons to open a prompt. Question marks ask students to type answers to simple questions, like "This is my age." The pencil icon opens a drawing activity with prompts like "Draw your school" or "This is a drawing of the human body." Multiple-choice questions such as "If I were an animal, I would look like this" offer a range of answer choices. A microphone asks students to speak their answer to prompts like "When I grow up, my job will be..." And the camera icon asks students to take photos to show, for example, the weather outside. Floating islands have questions that all relate to a common theme and explore specific areas of identity. There's an island for home, school, feeling angry, and feeling happy, for example. In addition, students can answer questions about family and friends, and build a tree for each by creating avatars for everyone they want to include -- even pets. There are unlimited slots for creating new diaries, and teachers can access the parent dashboard by providing their email address and creating a passcode.

A diary for the smartphone and tablet era, Me: A Kid's Diary utilizes a device's many functions to help students create a multimedia representation -- text, GIFs, audio, photographs, and drawings -- of who they are. Unfortunately, there's no blank canvas, or way to create custom prompts. But there are hundreds of prompts that go beyond straightforward questions like age (though they have those too). Questions like "This is what makes me sad" or "I dream about..." inspire students to think more deeply about what makes them tick. And with multiple modes of creative expression, Me: A Kid's Diary makes sure that everyone can share in a way that's comfortable for them. As more and more prompt bubbles float onto the screen, the layout can get a bit busy and cluttered. It'd be nice to see different options for viewing the prompts and responses. There's space for unlimited diaries in the app, so multiple students can create their own, but there's nothing that keeps a user from opening whatever diary they want. In a classroom setting, this may create some privacy concerns if students share a single device.

On a related note, the developer's privacy policy clearly states that all information kids enter in the app stays locally in the app. All the same, teachers should be aware that there are many questions that ask kids to share personal information, including age, where they live, family members, and more. This could be a good opportunity to talk about privacy in the digital world, and about making thoughtful decisions about how, when, and where it's appropriate to share information about yourself.

Overall Rating

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

Creating a personal, visual map of oneself could be an infinitely engaging experience. The cute style, sometimes silly prompts, and multiple ways to respond to prompts make it all the more interesting.

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

Students practice self-awareness, self-expression, and creativity. The diverse selection of prompts help kids feel empowered to document who they are, but it's lacking open-ended creation.

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

The diary quickly gets cluttered, making it hard to review the data students enter. Though creating a diary is mostly clear, there's no support for those who need assistance because of language barriers or different learning abilities.


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