Review by Jenny Tsai, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2013

Plan It Green: The Big Switch

Building sim integrates eco-friendly concepts into urban design

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Teachers say (2 Reviews)
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3-6 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Promotes latest innovation in energy efficiency and interweaves educational content into play.

Cons: The pace is slow and can be challenging for students with literacy difficulties.

Bottom Line: Game pace is slow, but it packs in a lot of relevant and rich learning content.

Teachers can use it to enhance a unit on the environment or urban planning. This is a great bring-alive activity for students if teachers are looking for a computer lab activity to complement the lesson on the topic. It can also be used as an extension activity for students who are interested in learning more about the topic. Students can play the game for homework and turn in a written reflection on their experience of building the city and what they learned as part of the game.  An assignment related to playing the game can also be used as an extra credit or make up assignment in the classroom since the learning modules are comprehensive and self-contained. 

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Plan It Green: The Big Switch is an online simulation game that integrates environmentally friendly concepts with urban design. The game is designed to increase nonfiction reading, planning ahead, and strategy. The game is reading-intensive, with eco-friendly facts popping up upon advancement of play. Outside of building the city, players can engage in quests and arcade games for more points.Kids can connect to the game via Facebook, but the social component of the game does not activate until level 5. 

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Plan It Green: The Big Switch is full of useful information about the environment, featuring in-game pop-out facts, videos on landfills and mushroom extinction, and relevant current events related to the environment. The game also includes practical advice on recyclying and minimizing trash. Teachers will appreciate the depth of information built into the game. Overall, the game feels like an interactive version of the environmental/urban planning section of an encyclopedia. 

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

The pace of the game is somewhat slow. The currency recharge also is slow, and it takes a long time to accumulate coins to create new buildings. Furthermore, it's hard to understand your progress. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

There's a lot of ecology information built into the game. Kids will learn how to maximize limited resources to build the ideal sustainable city.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

The game is reading-intensive and may be difficult for kids with lower reading comprehension. At times, it's difficult to understand how you're doing in the game.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jenny Tsai Reviewer

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
James D. , Other
Other
3
A good FREE alternative to SimCity

Plan It Green helps students explore some of the elements of a successful and sustainable city. Obviously the emphasis here is on environmental factors (which may or may not dovetail with everyone's curriculum). It's a good way to approach urban planning and design for students who have likely had other opportunities to learn about environmental issues before in other contexts.

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