Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2014
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The Voyage of Ulysses

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Explore kid-friendly games and activities on an Odyssey home to Ithaca

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
4-8
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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5 images

Pros: High-interest overview introduces students to classic themes and oft-referenced characters.

Cons: The story’s there, but there’s little poetry left in this version of Homer’s epic.

Bottom Line: Even without poetic language, interactive adventures engage kids in the classic story’s details and themes.

With the read-aloud narration, dramatic soundtrack, and gorgeous graphics, The Voyage of Ulysses could almost serve as a movie to watch as a class. Teachers could explore the interactive elements or have student volunteers explore each page. It's designed for kids age 9-11, but older students would still appreciate the simplified language and engaging images explaining this literary classic. This could be a great supplemental tool for high school students who struggle with the language in a more dated English translation. Teachers could also use the app to introduce a unit on mythology or to supplement a study on excerpts from The Odyssey, with students exploring solo, in small groups, or as a whole class. Finally, teachers may want to recommend the app to Percy Jackson fans, who may love it.

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The Voyage of Ulysses is an interactive storybook that lets kids explore the major episodes of Homer’s Odyssey. The story starts with a brief introduction to Homer before kids discover the text and an interactive map of the ancient Mediterranean world. Kids can read along chronologically, starting with the Trojan War. They meet the Lotus Eaters, the Cyclops, Aeolus, Penelope, Circe, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, Calypso, and the Phaeacians' ships before finally returning to Ithaca. Kids will feel like they’re sailing with the ship’s crew, hiding in Polyphemus's cave with Odysseus, or weaving and unweaving with Penelope. 

Navigation is simple, advancing forward or back with the bottom navigation bar. Kids can tap the question mark to read commentary and more detail from the original epic. They can also use the map icon to travel directly to specific adventures, represented with graphics of the characters.

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This isn't a complete curriculum; no vocabulary or checks for understanding are included. Instead, it’s more of an interactive book adaption of parts of the epic poem. Kids will be hooked by the interactive elements, discovering and experiencing the adventures as if they are the hero. The interface is simple, but sometimes that simplicity is limited. The only language options are English or Italian, and the only narration options are “Read to Me” or not. It might be helpful to have more language options, making this an even better fit for ELL students.

Though the writing isn't as poetic as a complete translation, kids will understand the story, appreciate the themes, and begin to recognize some of the myths. While this app is no substitute for reading the Odyssey in the original Greek or in translation, it’s a great introduction to the epic poem’s story, characters, and spirit.

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Overall Rating

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

Kid-friendly translation and mesmerizing illustrations bring the story alive for a young audience while maintaining the heart of the myth.

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

Kids are empowered to explore the story in any order and act out key moments, discovering and experiencing it as if they were the hero. Deeper interpretations and information are available within the app.

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

Navigation is straightforward and intuitive. On-screen cues entice kids to explore the interactive elements on the page.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Eric W. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
West Ottawa High School Campus
Holland, MI
Fun, basic version of the story with interesting visuals and a pretty sound track.

This was a fun overview of The Odyssey. It begins with a brief history of the Trojan War, hits all of the major stops on Ulysses'/Odysseus' journey home, and concludes with Penelope testing her husband to make sure he is who he says he is.

The graphics and sound are interested and well-conceived. One small complaint, sometimes the sound effects of the animations made it hard to hear the audio version of the text. Some of the animations made it hard to read the words, too.

I'm surprised it offers a second language besides English. Maybe more surprised that this second language is Italian. The population in my school would benefit more if it offered a version in Spanish.

I really liked the accessibility of the text. The language was clear without being too simple. The story was told in enough detail for struggling students to benefit.

It was also nice that each screen told a key point from the story but also included a pull-up window with additional information with more detail or historical context.

It's also nice that students can listen/read the story in order or navigate a map of the ancient map to choose a specific chapter.

My kids liked the way the story was told, too.

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