Review by Christy Matte, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2012
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LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: The Magic School Bus: Oceans

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Dive deep into the ocean and learn about the creatures that live there

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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Pros: Fun range of information-packed games tickle kids' interest in learning about the ocean.

Cons: Some games are more educational than others, and information isn't always presented before kids are expected to use it.

Bottom Line: Ms. Frizzle packs tons of fun learning into this underwater game, which can help build excitement around marine study in the classroom.

Kids will have fun reinforcing their classroom learning and will most likely pick up some new information along the way. It's a great tie-in for lessons on marine life or food chains. Many of the mini-games also transfer into real-life play. Kids can play food-chain tag or sort animals by like characteristics. The students in the game are gathering information for a parent presentation, so kids may also enjoy creating their own reports. This is a great individual activity for kids to do at indoor recess, classroom stations, or even at home as a fun homework assignment.

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LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: The Magic School Bus: Oceans is a game that takes kids on a fabulous field trip under the sea where they can learn about ocean life, food chains, and different parts of the ocean. They begin with mini-games that earn fuel for the bus. They may need to identify an animal using only a flashlight, find animals with a specific characteristic (lives near the bottom of the ocean, has a dorsal fin, has tentacles), or show an understanding of a food chain. Once the fuel tank is full, the bus travels to one of the following locations: intertidal pool, coral reef, continental shelf, open ocean, or deep ocean floor. Players learn about the creatures that live in each location using tools such as an x-ray, camera, and magnifying glass. Once they've collected all of the information they need, they'll return to the fuel gather stage. Most of the game time is spent in the fuel-gathering stage. Unfortunately, the information kids need to properly answer many of the fuel-gathering questions isn't presented until they reach the ocean stages.

LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: The Magic School Bus: Oceans makes discovering ocean life and its creatures fun by baking the learning into games. Some of the mini-games are better than others, so kids may need to be encouraged to explore all of them. But the facts are well-integrated into the game, and it does feel a bit like you're on a diving expedition. Consider discussing the animals and concepts in the mini-games before handing devices over to the kids. Students will be more successful and it will help cement the information.

Overall Rating

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

Information is presented through a range of fun games, and most of the time kids can choose which games to play. The game cleverly ties the playing of a lot of mini-games to saving up enough energy to "travel" to the ocean.

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

Many of the wealth of facts are presented while playing the mini-games, some of which are better than others. Most of the games have multiple levels for kids to choose from.

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

Parents can access data about their child's progress through the LeapFrog Learning Path. LeapFrog has a wealth of information and resources for parents and educators on their site via their blogs, printables, and activities areas.

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