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Britannica Kids: Aztec Empire
Pros: Plenty of articles break down the basics of the history of the Aztec people.
Cons: Heavy on text, it misses opportunities to construct deeper meaning from artifacts and other objects of the era.
Bottom Line: Britannica Kids: Aztec Empire works fine for getting information, but kids can't actively engage with the material.
Articles are appropriate for middle-school students and will help them look up answers to questions. The puzzle games and the "brush-off" activity feel a little young, though. Without the ability to highlight, annotate, or curate text and media, kids can't really analyze and synthesize information or turn their understanding into research reports, for example.
Editor's Note: Britannica Kids: Aztec Empire is no longer available.
Britannica Kids: Aztec Empire opens a window on the history of the Aztec people, from their agrarian roots to their downfall at the hands of the Spanish. A main navigation wheel at the bottom center lets kids explore features: seven articles on topics from Aztec rulers to religion, a glossary of the Aztec gods, an interactive map, an image gallery that includes one video, four activities that use images ("Jigsaw Puzzle," "Magic Square," "Memory Match," and "Brush-Off"), and a quiz. Articles are clearly organized with headings and subheadings. Key words are highlighted and in bold, and a pop-up definition appears when kids tap a key word. The quiz is a random set of 10 multiple-choice questions about facts in the articles. Kids can save the results for future reference.
With the articles, puzzles, photos, and maps, students have a variety of entry points into information about the Aztec people, who lived in what is present-day Mexico. However, despite some engaging activities, the bulk of information is in text. For example, there's only one video. A quiz requires kids to memorize facts but doesn't provide formative feedback. A more effective learning experience might invite kids to curate information from the articles and photos into some kind of report or project, so they could better understand and engage with the material.