Common Sense Review
Updated February 2014

National Geographic World Atlas

Traditional reference tool gets digital upgrade but could do more
Common Sense Rating 3
  • Spin the globe to find places.
  • View basic information about cities and countries.
  • Add pins to save and categorize cities.
  • View four different types of maps.
Interactive map and four different map styles allow kids to quickly find any location in the world and see it in multiple ways.
Paragraphs of information only describe countries, not cities or other geographical regions.
Bottom Line
It offers a little more than a traditional atlas and may prove easier to navigate, but it won't offer much excitement.
Stacy Zeiger
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

Beyond spinning the globe, there's really nothing to hook learners on the content.

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

Multiple map designs and basic overviews of countries help get kids interested in learning more.

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

Kids will find little support in how to use the features, but they're pretty easy to figure out.

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

Teachers with interactive whiteboards or projectors in the classroom will find this atlas particularly useful as part of a whole-class discussion. You can share a particular part of the world with students, marking key locations as part of a history lesson or sharing information about a country in a foreign language class. It would also be a handy tool for framing the setting and background of a piece of literature in an ELA classroom.

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What's It Like?

Kids open National Geographic World Atlas to reveal a spinning globe that places the world at their fingertips. From there, they may choose from four different map styles, zoom in to find a favorite place, or use the search feature to locate a specific city. A location detector also helps kids pinpoint exactly where they are on the globe. Once kids have found a place, they can read facts about the country and capital city, as well as view local weather information and an annual temperature chart. Kids can also place pins on the map, color-coded by categories such as places they've visited, places they wish to visit, or a customized description. Aside from the ability to zoom in and out, quickly find places by searching, and pin locations, the look and feel of the app doesn't differ much from a traditional atlas.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Kids can quickly zoom in from a large-scale map of the world to a more localized map, allowing them to build critical part-whole relationships. The pinning feature -- though not very robust -- is probably the app's best offering. With it, students can make their own connections to places on the globe by creating custom, color-coded pin lists. However, the app lacks in-depth information about cities and geographic regions, which means kids may quickly decide to search elsewhere.

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