How I Use It
I use Plants HD with my 2nd grade unit about life cycles. It's a great app to reinforce concepts we're studying and also provides deeper understanding. The app has different sections related to the life cycle so I ask students to interact with each section on different days. For example, there's a section about seeds, another about dispersal, a third about germination, etc. Each section has a stack of related high-quality photos with captions. Sometimes with EL students I ask them to focus just on this part of the app. Each section of the app also includes traditional text written in paragraph form. The text is challenging for some of my students, but there is a "read to me" feature. I would say that the text is probably right on for 3rd grade. It's not long, but some vocabulary is challenging. There are also fun facts presented 1 sentence at a time in a larger font, so this is also an area that's more accessible for younger readers. Finally there's a quiz which I ask students to complete at the end of their time interacting with each section. The questions are arranged in increasing order of Bloom's taxonomy, which I think is a helpful feature. In addition to these different sections about plant life cycles there's a game. The game is pretty simple, just drag and drop each stage of the life cycle into the correct order. I ask my students to take a screenshot when they've completed it. The app gives them an indicator if they have the pictures in the incorrect order but there are no hints as to what is incorrect. Adding this feature might be helpful.
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 more accessible for younger students. Something that might be interesting is to add in a section to determine what happens during the life cycle if key requirements (water, sunlight, etc) are missing.