Common Sense Review
Updated November 2013

Pines to Vines - The Forest Biome

Amazing digital science textbook for a range of abilities
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 5
  • Choose from six options on the home page to begin learning about forests.
  • Kids can tap to read and hear definitions as they read the chapters.
  • Kids can use the interactive map to find different forest biomes.
  • Chapter tests assess knowledge.
  • An interactive glossary supports learning.
Pros
Lots of learning options, five different reading levels, and interactive components inspire curiosity and engage kids.
Cons
No immediate feedback given for incorrect test answers.
Bottom Line
The price tag is a little high, but if you want a comprehensive resource to teach kids about forest biomes, this digital text delivers.
Debbie Gorrell
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Lots of interactive elements and a fun, kid-friendly writing style keep kids engaged.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Chapter and customizable tests assess learning, but kids can't immediately see feedback. Comprehension questions, highlighting and note taking features, and an interactive glossary help kids study and retain what they learn. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 5

An incredibly detailed manual within the app helps users get started and learn about all the features and options. The developer's website has tutorial videos, an FAQ section, and downloadable teacher resources.

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

Use Pines to Vines ​- The Forest Biome in the same way you might use a traditional textbook to teach a unit about forest biomes. Kids can read chapters independently or in small groups and then complete the chapter or custom tests on their own. If the number of available iPads is limited, you can have kids take turns completing the tests. You could also use the app as a supplement to an ecology unit. Break kids into small groups and assign a different chapter to each group. Then have kids create an illustrated concept map, slideshow presentation, or poster that summarizes the content of their chapter.

The teacher resources option takes you to the developer's website, where you can download sample lesson plans, worksheets, and more.

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What's It Like?

Pines to Vines - The Forest Biome is a cutting-edge digital textbook. In the reading pane, text appears on the left side of the screen; as various keywords pass through an arrow in the middle of the pane, supporting media appear on the right. Kids tap green keywords to trigger the visual support and purple keywords to see and hear word definitions. Text highlighting and note taking are also available. The Map feature lets kids rotate a globe to see the locations of different forest biomes. Kids can also use the interactive glossary and create notes. A Tests feature allows kids and teachers to access chapter tests, create custom tests, and choose a reading level for each test. When finished, kids can email tests directly to their teacher.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Obviously developed with learning in mind, this innovative app takes digital textbooks to a new level. Six chapters cover topics in great detail, and kids can tap keywords to see supporting images and definitions throughout the chapters. Numerous features support learning, including text to speech, highlighting, and note taking. Kids can choose from five different reading levels that range from first through eighth grade, change text size, have the text read aloud, and record their own voices while reading vocabulary terms. An interactive map of forest biomes, a photo gallery, chapter tests, a glossary, a handful of videos, and a Dropbox sync option make Pines to Vines worth the hefty price tag. With so much info and so many different options, some kids may be overwhelmed when first starting out. Teachers would be wise to review the manual(accessible within the app) with students and practice some of the features before fully diving into the content.

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