Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

Plan It Green: The Big Switch

Building sim integrates eco-friendly concepts into urban design
Common Sense Rating 3
  • Example of the game in real time.
  • Alerts and messages that guide game play.
  • Eco news of the day.
  • Rewards and tracking center in the mayor's office.
  • The place to learn more information and gather more points is the arcade.
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.
Jenny Tsai
Common Sense Reviewer
Reviewer
Common Sense 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.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

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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What's It Like?

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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Is It Good For Learning?

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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See how teachers are using Plan It Green: The Big Switch

Lesson Plans