Pros: The colors used in kids' drawings populate throughout the interactive story.
Cons: The moral of the story is compromised by a lack of grace at the end.
Bottom Line: This novel use of a new technology is bound to delight readers of all ages.
Arloon's The Tortoise and the Hare could be used as part of a language arts curriculum, in a unit about fables or with a theme related to the moral, or it could be used in an art class. Teachers could have students color in both pages themselves or have students work in pairs, with one coloring one character and another the other. For young elementary classes with 1-to-1 devices, this would make an impressive demonstration for student-led parent conferences, giving kids a chance to show parents their artistic skills and how they can use the devices.
Arloon's rendition of The Tortoise and the Hare is a digital retelling of the classic fable that utilizes augmented reality (AR) as a way to enhance readers' experience with the story. Users start by downloading and printing a set of coloring pages from the Arloon website. From there, students can color the images as they please. When opening the app, after choosing a language and starting the book, users are directed to scan the pages they've colored, selecting each character and scanning its page. The app offers direction in lining up the pages correctly, and -- voila! -- the pages come to life in three dimensions, showing each page's color scheme. The colors students picked -- on the flowers, trees, insects, tortoise, and hare -- are featured throughout the illustrations of the book.
While reading, kids have a few spots where they can interact, tapping an icon on the screen to move on to the next part of the story. Kids can also view the story with the illustration's default coloring, if they don't want to color and scan the pages themselves.
It's important to know that Arloon's The Tortoise and the Hare is more of a novel use for AR technology than a strong learning tool. The story itself isn't as interactive as it could be, and the text is in cursive, which won't favor accessibility for all kids. Though the fable is often taught to younger kids, the vocabulary used can be higher-level. Teachers may need to do some pre-teaching or scaffolding to help students along; vocabulary includes terms such as "proposed" and "indignantly."
That said, the augmented-reality tool works impressively well, albeit only with colors light enough to leave enough contrast between the black lines of the drawings. The instructions provided aren't clear on this fact -- black or dark browns won't work. Teachers may also want to address the story's ending with students. While the final lines deliver the lesson, "Never laugh at those who are slower than you," the illustrated tortoise is laughing and pointing at the hare, not modeling a forgiving spirit or an appropriate response to victory.