Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013
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X is for X-Ray (iPad)

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Cool alphabet-based visuals, plus a bit of science, history, and vocabulary fun

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • 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: Learn about everyday objects wth creative visuals, funny poetry, and written text.

Cons: Some of the X-ray interactivity isn't intuitive and may frustrate younger kids.

Bottom Line: X is for X-Ray is a beautiful way to bring kids to the intersection of reading with science, engineering, and history.

X is for X-Ray can be a good teacher-led whole class introduction to a lesson about inventing, engineering, or the physics of X-rays. Teachers will need to read (and perhaps synopsize) text-heavy portions of the app for younger students, but pre-readers can also simply listen to the poems and view the images. X is for X-Ray may also be an interesting way for kids just learning to use an iPad to practice swiping, tapping, and pinching on their own -- with rewarding visual results. After students have explored the app fully, teachers may want to choose a suggested activity, such as performing a science experiment, to extend learning.

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X is for X-Ray (iPad) is a beautiful alphabet book containing detailed descriptions, funny audio poems, and amazing, progressive X-ray images of 26 everyday objects that kids can interact with. The app covers a variety of information about each object -- its history, scientific information, fun facts, and some extension ideas for further exploration (some objects don’t have extensions). From viewing the internal engineering of a toaster to seeing the way bones shape a hand, X is for X-Ray gets kids investigating the parts that create whole objects. Kids swipe, tap, and pinch to view each photo as an X-ray, zoom it larger, spin it around, and view it in 3-D (with purchased glasses). It may take a few tries for kids to get the hang of using the tools, and some images are easier to manipulate than others, but overall navigation is fairly easy.

The amazing X-ray images combined with catchy audio poems and fascinating informational text make the learning experience on X is for X-Ray highly engaging and effective. Multimedia information about each object helps with retention by reinforcing learning in different ways. Interacting with objects to expose their insides will leave a lasting impression on students.

Overall Rating

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

X-ray images, witty poems, and information-packed text engage kids' sense of wonder, sense of humor, and curiosity about everyday things. Prereaders and readers both will find ways to engage.

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

One page per object explains all about each image, helping kids expand vocabulary and science and history knowledge -- although not deeply. X-ray-enhanced photos allow kids to see the inner workings of objects they're familiar with.

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

Lots of text makes this well-suited for readers; images and audio poems make it accessible for prereaders. You'll get great ideas for extension activities, but kids will need to use trial and error to learn how to expose the x-ray images.

Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Connie J. , Media specialist/librarian
Media specialist/librarian
Concordia College
Moorhead, United States
Not all items are worth x-raying
While some students may enjoy this app, it mixes juvenile poems with quite detailed information about the item being x-rayed. Advanced students may wish to skip the poems entirely and just read the text. Some of the items selected for x-raying are curious - there's not much to see on the inside of a piggy bank or an umbrella.
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