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Barefoot World Atlas
Pros: World music, high-quality graphics, easy navigation, and the smooth voice of the BBC's Nick Crane make this an engaging reference tool.
Cons: There aren't any games or an organized rewards system for visiting different regions.
Bottom Line: Dive right in to world geography with a beautiful, interactive globe full of narratives and photos of different cultures and traditions.
For classroom use, Barefoot World Atlas can function as a geography supplement, with many pros and only a few cons. The animated 3-D world is visually stunning, and most kids will find at least a few images that will spark their interest in different areas of the world, including their own. The live facts about countries -- like time, weather, and average carbon dioxide emissions -- lend a sense of immediacy and globalization. Kids can quickly and easily compare their lives to the experiences of others.
Paper atlas, meet the Digital Age with Barefoot World Atlas. Flip through and find animations and real-time data from around the world to bring facts to life. Kids spin or pinch a beautifully animated 3-D globe to find and zoom in on objects they want to learn about. Then, by touching icons, they can access high-quality photos and short descriptions, which they can read themselves or have read to them by BBC presenter Nick Crane. Starting points abound: Kids explore by region, highlighted feature, or country names listed on icons at the top left.
It's easy to see students getting happily lost in 100 topics, including flags, animals, cultures, science, hobbies, landmarks, natural landscapes, and zany facts. Kids might even feel like they're really visiting other places. If you select a country's flag, you'll see the current conditions in that country, including time, distance from you (if you enable location-finding), and current weather.
Great detail: Barefoot World Atlas has a sizable soundtrack that changes to relevant music as you focus on different parts of the world. Also, kids can build a list of favorite countries, regions, or features by tapping the star icon. A major downside is its size. It's 1.67 GB -- ouch. Also, there's no game or any organized tracking system to encourage kids to continue to explore Barefoot World Atlas's loads of content. That said, the upsides way outnumber the downsides.