Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013

Earth Rangers

Kid conservationist's paradise with great images, vids, animals galore

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2-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Bring Back the Wild lesson plans are well-written with tons of inquiry and exploration.

Cons: Although they're not a huge part of the site, games don't really prioritize learning.

Bottom Line: Great ecology lesson plans and videos are rich with engrossing animal goodies, but the accompanying games don't teach much science.

Kids can also click the Got Homework Download to get a printable handout on each endangered animal with details about its habitat, diet, and conservation status.  What a great tool for kids to practice citing and synthesizing technical text. Because games don't really incorporate learning, they're probably best used sparingly in the classroom or as a reward for kids who have finished other tasks early.

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Earth Rangers is a website that encourages kids to participate in conservation efforts while teaching them about our world. It revolves around a fundraising campaign, Bring Back the Wild, where kids can raise money for a chosen animal on the site, but also contains lesson plans, videos, articles, and games. These activities explore ecological topics like invasive species, captive breeding programs, and water conservation.

From the Things to Do menu, kids can choose to play games, watch videos, discover animals, enter contests, and more. The Wild Wire Blog features all kinds of conservation content, including sections like "OMG Animals!" and "Take Action." Activities include "Get in the Habitat-Making Habit," a how-to for creating a butterfly, bird, or bat habitat.

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On the surface, Earth Rangers appears to be a way to get kids to raise money for conservation. But if you dig deeper, you'll find a wealth of thoughtful learning activities that address topics like conservation, natural selection, and biodiversity. Video clips are short and will grab kids' attention; they're best used if you want to show examples of animals and their behaviors. The Wild Wire Blog section is a great resource for scientific text that kids will actually be interested in.

They've gathered a really nice set of well-organized and fun ecology activities. Lots of them get at the true nature of science, allowing kids to figure stuff out instead of simply memorize facts. "From Pattern to Principal: Discovering Science Through Observing Patterns in Nature" offers three different ways for kids to go outside, gather data, and discover a pattern that accounts for that data. Video clips range from informational to silly. Kids will crack up when they watch “Funny Talking Animals.” It doesn’t teach them very much about conservation, but the goofy vids may get kids more interested in exploring the more educational parts of the site. Blog articles are short and to the point, very accessible for kids. For example, “Climate Change is a Challenge for Narwhals” clearly describes how humans have impacted these tusked whales. Games, however, have limited learning value. In "Eco Invaders," there's a “Did You Know” fact listed at the bottom that tells kids about invasive species, but the game itself just involves shooting weapons and hand/eye coordination. However, there's so much great content on the site that the games can be used as a fun bonus activity.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Goofy video clips are perfect for elementary and middle schoolers, and the fun games will suck kids in. Design is bright, with kid-friendly illustrations and tons of animal photos.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Great curriculum resources give kids a chance to dig deep and apply science concepts, and they can explore the site on their own to learn about favorite animals. Games aren't as strong; although fun, there's no learning baked in.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Phenomenal lesson plans provide quality learning activities to be done at home or in the classroom.  The website also is available in French.


Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Stephanie E. , Other
Other
3
Nice tool for promoting early eco activism.

Overall, I think this is a nice tool for exciting kids about protecting animals. I liked the videos and interesting facts about animals. I also like the digital badge system that this site uses to motivate students. I also like that students are able to use social media in a constructive manner. I would like to see additional ways for students to raise funds such as Instagram. It would also be great if students were able to earn badges after learning more about specific animals or even contributed their own research about them.

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