Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2014
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One Globe Kids - All Friends

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Engaging stories, activities introduce kids to peers around the world

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies

  • 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.
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Pros: Stellar teacher guides offer lots of classroom connections that bridge disciplines.

Cons: Some kids talk very quickly in the story sections.

Bottom Line: A smart, thoughtful way to learn about the lives of kids around the world.

Teachers can have kids read different stories, record their voices in dialogues, and practice counting in different languages, and then share their experiences in class. Teachers can also use the lesson plans in social studies, science, and ELA classes to explore topics and themes that emerge throughout the stories.

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One Globe Kids - All Friends is an app that explores the lives of kids around the world through stories and games. Users pick one of eight kids from five countries: Haiti, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Burundi, and the United States. They then can choose to read that child's story, select "tell me about yourself" to engage in a dialogue, learn phrases or count to 10 in the child's native language, or read more facts about the child's hometown. Each story features vignettes that illustrate what's different about each kid's life and culture (like a family wedding reception in Haiti that's cut short when the electricity goes off) and what kids across cultures might share (like loving to read). 

Teacher sections of the app offer a discussion guide for each country, lesson plan ideas, and classroom activities that draw directly from each unit and build on topics that arise in the stories.

Another app from the same developer, One Globe Kids - Friends Around the World, uses the same content and activities and can be downloaded free. Within that app, one kid's story is free for viewing, while the others are available for in-app purchase at $1.99 each. One Globe Kids - All Friends includes the teacher guides; One Globe Kids - Friends Around the World does not.

Each story lets kids listen while they read and, in some cases, lets kids make choices about what the narrator should do next. (For example, Floor from the Netherlands asks, "Which craft should we make for Queen's Day?" and kids pick a keychain or a pencil case.) The language-learning and dialogue sections also make good use of the device's capabilities: After recording their own answers in a dialogue section, kids see their avatar's image next to the featured kid's image, and their recorded voice is played back in a mock dialogue. Most kids will get that this isn't a real conversation, but it's a fun, smart way to engage kids' imaginations while teaching them about empathy. 

Teacher sections extend the lessons with behind-the-scenes looks at the making of each story, and lesson plans that examine such topics as electricity, water, and transportation. It's impressive that the serious issues kids face in developing nations are on display here, and they're featured with warmth, detail, and sensitivity that can helpfully engage young learners.

The developers are also sensitive to kids' privacy. Although kids can record audio and play back their dialogue with the children featured in each story, those recordings stay on the device and can't be shared. Similarly, kids can upload photos for their avatars, but those images stay local to the device.

Overall Rating

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

Great images, interesting stories, and lots of ways to explore and interact make this a consistently engaging way to explore the world's cultures.

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

Activities and stories help kids explore the lives of kids around the world. Teacher sections provide additional info about the stories, while lesson plans examine topics like electricity, water, and transportation. 

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 device's built-in accessibility features work well here, and the teacher tools helpfully extend the app's activities into the classroom. Kids in the videos talk extremely fast, which might be challenging for some kids.

Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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