Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2013
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US Geography With Flat Stanley HD

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Fun slingshot game brings some action to learning U.S. states

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Teachers say (2 Reviews)
$avg_user_learning_rating
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Grades
2-4 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Cleverly turns a typically rote memorization activity into an engaging exercise.

Cons: Lacks audio instructions, and the word jumble puzzle gives kids the answers before they've even tried to solve the words.

Bottom Line: Enjoyable game is best suited for kids who know a little bit about U.S. geography already.

Use Learn the States With Flat Stanley to reinforce lessons on the 50 states. It's best if students have a basic knowledge of where some states are before starting to play on this app, but once the basics are introduced, this app is a perfect practice and memorization companion for kids. This could be a good one to use with pairs; for kids who are struggling readers, working with a buddy who is a strong reader will allow them to enjoy the activity as well.

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Learn the States With Flat Stanley is a U.S. geography app that helps kids practice matching state names to their shapes on a blank map. Students also learn a little bit about each state's unique cultural features while playing the shape/name matching game. The app splits states into seven regions, and each of those regions has an identifiable name: West, Northern Rockies, Southern Rockies, North Central, South Central, North East, South East.

In the spirit of the original school activity in which kids mail a paper Flat Stanley to far-flung places, Learn the States asks kids to send a cute little aviator Stanley image via "airmail" to each state. Players aim an on-screen slingshot -- loaded with Stanley -- by swiping their finger backward on the screen, pointing it at the map toward a requested state, and then letting go, sending Stanley flying. If he hits the right spot on the map, kids get a star under the region, are asked to spell the state name, and then can view more information about that state on a page with photos and information specific to that state. Specifics include an image of each state's flag, bird, flower, and unique facts, helping kids grow not only in geography knowledge but also cultural understanding. Kids can also tap on a state to see its capital city. Sending Stanley flying to fill in state names is an interactive way to transform the sometimes dull geography requirement of memorizing states on a map into a fun game.

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This quirky, fun game can help students learn and recall the location of U.S. regions and individual states. It provides immediate feedback for kids if they aim at the wrong state, listing the name of the state where Stanley erroneously landed as well as highlighting and naming the correct one. It also provides some interesting trivia and symbol information for each state. The spellling game may provide too much support in that it displays the written name of the state kids are spelling. Head-scratcher. And while the overall design is great, the Northeast states may frustrate kids -- even if they think they're aiming properly, Stanley may land in a nearby smaller state simply because of the smaller margin of error in those tiny spots on the screen. Still, this is a fun way for students to learn some of the basics about U.S. states.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Flinging Stanley via slingshot toward each state on the map adds a dash of excitement to the rote activity of state identification. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Kids get immedatiate feedback after they fling Stanley; if they hit an incorrect state, its name and the correct state's name appears. The state info they learn is relevant to their understanding of the U.S.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

No verbal instructions, only written. It would be better if the spelling game asked kids verbally to spell the state, so they couldn't see the name already spelled in the instructions.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Sean A. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
District 75 Central
New York, NY
4
Fling your way towards a knowledge of the 50 states

It's a lot of fun, but the flinging Stanley aspect can be daunting for students (or adults) with limited manual dexterity. This is especially true when you get to states like Rhode Island. I really like though how you can expand on student knowledge, because it gives extra facts about each state like the state bird, state motto, capital, and landmarks.

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