Pines to Vines - The Forest Biome

Amazing digital science textbook for a range of abilities

Learning rating

Community rating

Based on 1 review

Privacy rating

Not yet rated
Expert evaluation by Common Sense



Subjects & Skills

Critical Thinking, Science

Price: Paid
Platforms: iPad

Pros: Lots of learning options, five different reading levels, and interactive components inspire curiosity and engage kids.

Cons: No immediate feedback given for incorrect test answers.

Bottom Line: The price tag is a little high, but if you want a comprehensive resource to teach kids about forest biomes, this digital text delivers.

Use Pines to Vines ​- The Forest Biome in the same way you might use a traditional textbook to teach a unit about forest biomes. Kids can read chapters independently or in small groups and then complete the chapter or custom tests on their own. If the number of available iPads is limited, you can have kids take turns completing the tests. You could also use the app as a supplement to an ecology unit. Break kids into small groups and assign a different chapter to each group. Then have kids create an illustrated concept map, slideshow presentation, or poster that summarizes the content of their chapter.

The teacher resources option takes you to the developer's website, where you can download sample lesson plans, worksheets, and more.

Pines to Vines - The Forest Biome is a cutting-edge digital textbook. In the reading pane, text appears on the left side of the screen; as various keywords pass through an arrow in the middle of the pane, supporting media appear on the right. Kids tap green keywords to trigger the visual support and purple keywords to see and hear word definitions. Text highlighting and note taking are also available. The Map feature lets kids rotate a globe to see the locations of different forest biomes. Kids can also use the interactive glossary and create notes. A Tests feature allows kids and teachers to access chapter tests, create custom tests, and choose a reading level for each test. When finished, kids can email tests directly to their teacher.

Obviously developed with learning in mind, this innovative app takes digital textbooks to a new level. Six chapters cover topics in great detail, and kids can tap keywords to see supporting images and definitions throughout the chapters. Numerous features support learning, including text to speech, highlighting, and note taking. Kids can choose from five different reading levels that range from first through eighth grade, change text size, have the text read aloud, and record their own voices while reading vocabulary terms. An interactive map of forest biomes, a photo gallery, chapter tests, a glossary, a handful of videos, and a Dropbox sync option make Pines to Vines worth the hefty price tag. With so much info and so many different options, some kids may be overwhelmed when first starting out. Teachers would be wise to review the manual(accessible within the app) with students and practice some of the features before fully diving into the content.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

Lots of interactive elements and a fun, kid-friendly writing style keep kids engaged.


Chapter and customizable tests assess learning, but kids can't immediately see feedback. Comprehension questions, highlighting and note taking features, and an interactive glossary help kids study and retain what they learn. 


An incredibly detailed manual within the app helps users get started and learn about all the features and options. The developer's website has tutorial videos, an FAQ section, and downloadable teacher resources.

Common Sense reviewer

Community Rating

Customization Makes it Worth the Price!

The ability to differentiate to meet student needs within this app are spectacular! Each student can customize their own learning experience using features that allow them to set text size, the option to have text and questions read aloud, and dictate test essay answers. Plus they can choose from 5 different reading levels as needed to learn about the content! This last one was both exciting but a little confusing to me since the app reading levels are advertised in iTunes to range from first to eighth grade in difficulty, yet the level selection is listed as 1-5. I did a little tapping and found a detailed manual provided in the "Media" section of the app, which included a table that outlined how the five levels correlated to both Lexile Scores and grade levels. This manual was VERY helpful!
All of the tools that are typically available in an e-book app are available in this app as well, including the ability to bookmark, highlight, define, and take notes. Images, maps, and videos enhance the appropriate text, keeping students engaged and accommodating various styles of learning. Each chapter concludes with an online test, which again can be customized to a specific reading level. Questions are not only multiple choice and true/false, but also include labeling as well as short essay responses, with more essay questions at the higher reading levels. Upon conclusion, scored tests are submitted as a pdf file to the teacher via an email address that is entered in settings. The app will also sync with a Dropbox account to provide students with a scored copy of the test, which was the only way I saw for students to review their own tests.
I can understand why this app has won so many awards. The ability to differentiate for students along with it's multi-media content that is aligned to Common Core Standards makes it worth every penny of the price. As a technology specialist who works closely with teachers, my only concern with its use in a classroom is the lack of teacher lesson plans and activities. For the entire text, only three lesson plans are available as teacher resources and not many more activities. To a teacher who is using the app in lieu of a textbook to teach the curriculum in a 1:1 environment, I believe that this is a critical missing piece but something that could be easily remedied by the developers. I'll certainly keep my eye on the provided online resources to see if additional lesson plans and activities are added for this amazing app!

Continue reading

Privacy Rating

This tool has not yet been rated by our privacy team. Learn more about our privacy ratings