App review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2019
Montessorium: Intro To Geo
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Montessorium: Intro to Geo

Map memorization drills offer comprehensive but monotonous coverage

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Grades
3–8
Subjects & Skills
Social Studies, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Clear presentation of a vast collection that includes the location, name, shape, and flag for every country in the world.

Cons: Information about each country is minimal; without context or human-interest tidbits, learning might not stick.

Bottom Line: This is a great database of basic information about the world's countries; the repetitive drills will work for some kids and circumstances, but not others.

Teachers can use Montessorium: Intro to Geo to help students memorize names, shapes, locations, and flags for countries around the world. The app doesn't offer any supplemental information about the countries beyond what's introduced in the memorization drills. Teachers will likely want to extend learning with photographs, videos, text, audio, or hands-on activities that explore the culture of different countries. Unfortunately, teachers can't choose which countries students will see in the app, but the presentation order is always the same, so if teachers play ahead of their students, they can pick some countries to expand upon. If teachers have a large world map in the classroom, students can mark off countries they've learned as they progress through the app.

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Montessorium: Intro to Geo is an iOS geography app for elementary and middle school. Its big collection relies on basic drills and repetition to help students learn and memorize country names, shapes, locations, and flags. After choosing a continent, students are presented with a group of countries. The narrator says, "Can you place the countries?" and students must place each country in its spot on a larger map. A variety of similar activities follow and build on memorization and recall in successively more difficult circumstances. Activities include tapping and dragging countries to their correct location, drawing lines to match countries, names, and flags, and coloring in each country's flag from memory. When students complete a whole set, they get a mark on their progress map and move on to a new set. The default is for students to work with a set of six countries at a time, but teachers can change that number in the settings menu.

Montessorium: Intro to Geo offers easily accessible drills for learning the names and locations of countries around the world, but with such a large scope, it risks feeling overwhelming. The loosely Montessori-inspired activities are methodically organized around repetition and successively build fluency with information students have just memorized. This approach feels neat and organized, and does a great job of naming and placing every country. Students can learn which countries border each other and what their relative sizes are, discover island nations, and even experience a tiny bit of culture by viewing the flags. But the drill approach isn't for everyone, and with hundreds of countries to cover, Montessorium: Intro to Geo feels cumbersome and tedious. A bit of extra cultural information -- such as photos, typical food, climate, and so on -- about each country could help alleviate that feeling and would be a nice addition. It may also frustrate teachers that there's no way to choose which countries students learn about, no way to look for a particular country on the map, and no way to go back to review countries that have already been covered. And sometimes the presentation is awkward, such as countries waiting to be placed on the map that are hard to find on the screen. Overall Montessorium: Intro to Geo is a decent choice for a narrow set of learning objectives, and is best used in small doses.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Students who like geography will enjoy learning about so many different countries. There's some variety that can help keep them interested, but the activities are repetitive; anything more than small doses feels tedious.

Pedagogy

Through drag-and-drop repetition, recognition, and multiple-choice questions, students can learn the names, shapes, locations, and flags of all the countries in the world.

Support

Students easily track progress as they make their way through different countries. The developer's website offers some extension ideas.


Common Sense reviewer
Mieke VanderBorght Researcher

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