Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2015
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The Earth by Tinybop

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Explore challenging concepts with beautiful, interactive free play

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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5 images

Pros: Beautifully designed, interactive graphics engage and inspire curiosity.

Cons: If experienced without support and guidance, kids could miss out on some great learning opportunities.

Bottom Line: When used in conjunction with the handbook, this interactive model is a good way to help teach kids about Earth.

Start with the teaching handbook, "The Earth Handbook." There are some great tips for guiding students as they explore this mostly self-directed learning experience. Use this app as a support tool when teaching kids about Earth. It could be a fun way to introduce a unit: Have kids work in pairs to explore as much of the app as possible in a given amount of time. Come together as a class and discuss what kids learned. Use this as a starting point for creating a KWL chart about Earth. Give kids time at the start or end of class to keep exploring the app. Update the chart as kids continue to explore.

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A large image of Earth appears on the screen, and kids can simply begin tapping to learn all about our planet. A geological time scale appears above Earth, and kids can swipe the scale to learn the names of various eons. Kids can access a menu along the left side of the screen at any time. This menu allows them to navigate to different learning content. The colorful graphics and fun sound effects are enjoyable, but some kids would benefit from a narration of the vocabulary.

This interactive model teaches kids about Earth's history and its ever-changing landforms. They can learn about processes that shape Earth's surface, including weathering, erosion, and deposition. They learn how these processes change Earth and contribute to the formation of landforms such as mountains and sand dunes. Kids can also explore fascinating features such as hot spots, stalactites, and stalagmites. They swipe and tap to learn about Earth's layers, and they can create volcanic eruptions and mild earthquakes.

It’s important to know that, though this type of sandbox-style learning offers amazing opportunities for powerful learning, many students will need some scaffolding and support to help this happen. It's important to reinforce with kids that most of the processes that change Earth's surface occur over millions of years. More advanced concepts, such as fault lines, are also included. It helps that the graphics are kept at an age-appropriate level. For more structure, a teaching handbook is available to download from the developer's website.

Overall Rating

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

The beautiful graphics are engaging and give kids lots of opportunities for interaction.

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

This kind of unstructured, free exploration play can be a great way to learn. The option for more in-app guidance could help kids who might struggle or need more direction.

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

Adults can enter and track users on the dashboard. The free, downloadable handbook is a great resource for discussion questions and more detailed information about Earth.

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