Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2016
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Showbiz Safari

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Entertaining life science intro with limited learning and play

Subjects & skills
  • Science

  • Critical Thinking
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Pros: Straightforward gameplay, colorful interface, and fun features keep students playing.

Cons: The game is a bit simplistic, lacking more plant/animal information and extension materials.

Bottom Line: Humorous movie posters keep students engaged but would benefit from more in-depth content.

Teachers can use Showbiz Safari as practice for early elementary school students who are learning about plant and animal characteristics, as well as to teach about the diversity of plant and animal features and habitats. It is best combined with other related lessons. 

The app can be used with students who finish other work early or as part of a life science learning station. For added fun, teachers can print the finished movie posters from within the app, reinforcing students' learning.

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In Showbiz Safari, students help a walrus movie director cast animal and plant actors in movie roles. There are three genres to choose from: Spooky, Comedy, and Action. The director presents a criterion that the actor for the role must have, and it's up to the student to decide if each candidate meets the requirement. For example, does it live in water? Does it have fur? Students give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down to each candidate based on the director's requirements, and those with a thumbs-down are eliminated from the next round. Students narrow down the list of actors to one winner through three rounds of choices. At each choice stage, students can tap on the animal or plant to learn more about them, including where it lives and different physical characteristics.

Once the correct actor has been chosen for the movie, a movie poster is drawn up, which students have the option to print; this option can also be turned off in the settings. Players can then choose to cast another movie or go back to the main screen. Students can revisit each actor's set of movie posters whenever they like.

Showbiz Safari is an engrossing, interactive way for young students to learn about the diversity among animals and plants. In between the fun, it focuses on identifying animal and plant traits such as legs, fins, roots, flowers, fur, habitat, and so on. Once a plant or animal has been cast as the star in a movie, students can look through the Actor Roster to revisit movie posters and read a bit of information about the living organism.

The app can be a productive way to practice early reading skills. However, since there is a fair amount of reading, some struggling readers may need extra assistance.

Overall Rating

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

Young kids are drawn in right away with the cute and colorful animation and the compelling theme of casting a movie. The amusing movie posters are an added bonus.

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

Players learn traits of plants and animals through reading and then help cast movies by selecting plant and animal actors based on requested traits.

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

Some basic guidance is given as students play the game, but very little outside help is needed for those who are good readers. The game could be improved with deeper extension activities.

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