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Pros: Kids can freely explore weather with adorable characters that react to changes in conditions like temperature, wind speed, and more.
Cons: Progress can't be saved or tracked.
Bottom Line: A fun, cheerful way for kids to explore weather while appropriately touching on more serious issues like safety.
In the classroom, MarcoPolo Weather is a great tool to use as part of a learning center. Allow kids to freely explore and follow up with a class discussion of their observations. Create a word wall of vocabulary that kids learn. The parent section has excellent ideas for extension activities that can be used as part of a weather unit: For example, have kids keep a journal of local weather conditions for several weeks.
MarcoPolo Weather is a digital sandbox tool that emphasizes exploration and open play. Kids tap a play button to enter the main screen, which includes an avatar and animated animals in an outdoor forest scene. Kids can select one of the nine weather conditions or tap to adjust the temperature and/or wind speed. They can drag interactive objects onto the scene, including clothing and accessories, two other avatars, fruits, flowers, vegetables, a tent, snowballs, and more. They can also change the display from day to night.
Through free play and exploration, kids can manipulate temperature and wind conditions and create weather scenes with nine different weather conditions: sunny, partly cloudy, cloudy, rain, thunderstorm, snow, blizzard, tornado, and hurricane. Each condition includes a narrated description and allows kids to observe how the condition affects their avatar and the environment. For example, when kids choose the tornado, they learn its pronunciation and its definition. A siren goes off, the avatar jumps into an underground safety area, and as the tornado sweeps across the screen, leaves blow around and the ground gets torn up. A parent section includes a description of the app and settings, as well as extension activities related to weather.
Colorful characters, fun sound effects, and lots of interactivity will engage and delight young learners. Kids can learn how weather conditions affect the environment while building key science vocabulary. There's tons to explore and lots to learn, and there's a great mix of explicit instruction and kid-directed exploration. More features to track students' progress -- or even just systematically review what they've learned -- would improve an already-great experience. Overall, MarcoPolo Weather is a fun, fascinating way for kids to explore an important science topic.