Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2012
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Plants HD

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Dig into germination, pollination, and more about plants' life cycle

Subjects & skills
  • Science

  • Critical Thinking
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: The app features beautiful photos and fun facts about the plant life cycle and related topics.

Cons: Some vocabulary may be a stretch for younger students first learning about plants.

Bottom Line: Plants HD is an interactive, text-heavy primer on the plant life cycle.

Placing seeds in a cup and watching them germinate; bringing different seed-bearing fruits, flowers, and other plants into the classroom to compare the diversity of seeds; and doing other hands-on activities with seeds and plants will greatly enhance the lessons on Plants HD. The direct ways you will use Plants HD will vary depending upon the grade level in which you are using it, as well as how much basic plant information and vocabulary your students already know. For younger students and kids new to the plant life cycle, teachers may want to first demonstrate the game in which players organize the icons that represent each step of the cycle and use it as a teaching tool, then work through some of the sections and quizzes together. Independent readers and those already introduced to the basics of plants will likely be able to use all parts of this app on their own and mute narration to increase the effectiveness of this app both as a science resource and a Common Core Standard-based exercise in reading informational text.

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Plants HD is a science app that helps kids learn about the life cycle of plants and other facts about topics related to plants, such as bees. To use, simply tap on one of the seven icons: Plants and trees, flowers, germination, pollination, fruits, seeds, dispersal. Then listen to or read the informational text and look at beautiful related photos. Some one-sentence fun facts ("It takes 50 leaves to create enough energy to make an apple") also appear at the bottom of the screen that kids can tap through to read. Three levels of quizzes test kids' retention. You can turn music and text narration off or on. Plant HD's overall effectiveness and fun could be improved by adding some extension activities, such as instructions for offline activities like planting seeds or plant identification.

Students can gain a basic understanding of the plant life cycle, appreciation for the beauty of plants, and some fun facts using Plants HD. Younger kids within this app's recommended age will need a teacher's guidance, as some of the vocabulary (for example, hypocotylaggregate fruitstesta) is far beyond that of an early introduction to plants. The game in which kids must place images of the plant life cycle in order is particularly helpful to understanding it, although expecting younger kids to complete it without assistance or an already solid knowledge of the plant life cycle isn't recommended. While quiz questions can be challenging and do not include voice instruction, kids can continue to answer until choosing the correct one. On the downside, it is possible to just keep clicking the multiple-choice answers rather than making educated guesses to arrive at the correct answer. Still, Plant HD's good information and beautiful photos build on each other to help kids conceptualize the entire life cycle of plants and what it means to nature and humans.

Overall Rating

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

Even though Plants HD doesn't include activities kids may consider tons of fun, it presents the life cycle of plants in a memorable way and reinforces the lesson with engaging photos, an organizing game, and quizzes.

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

As a science resource, Plants HD is solid, although some of the more complex plant vocabulary included may be a stretch for younger students. The app is quite text-heavy but narration is included, except for quiz questions.

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

You can turn music off or on, and there's a "read along" option for beginning readers. Some offline, real plant-based extension activities could be a valuable addition to Plants HD.

Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 3 reviews) (3 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Jennifer A. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Montclaire Elementary School
Los Altos, United States
Helpful for Plant Life Cycle Study
Overall I like the app. I think it's an entertaining way for students to interact with the science concepts outside of our science book. The app is straightforward and simple. It's not a groundbreaking app but I think it's right on target to be successful at what it was designed to do. It's easy to understand, the photos are excellent and the material is relevant and appropriate for primary students. Many science apps I've looked at are written at a middle school level so I appreciate this app being mor ...
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