Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2019

PebbleGo

Easily accessible, kid-friendly database for the littlest researchers

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
K–3
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (22 Reviews)

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Pros: The wide variety of topics and consistent format lets kids practice researching and reporting, with proper citations, what they learn.

Cons: Teachers can see the most popular articles, but there's no way to know how individual students are engaging with the material.

Bottom Line: Delightful, safe introduction to the world of research, databases, and reporting, with interesting content and stellar supports.

In general, teachers can use PebbleGo's databases to teach kids about research, reporting, and citing sources. For beginning researchers, give students a chance to explore topics according to their interests and come up with two to three fun facts to share with their classmates. As their skills mature, challenge kids to use the biography database to research three people they've never heard of, and play a guessing game with the facts they submit. For a more structured activity, have each student complete one of the report templates available on the site and put them together to create a reference wall for your current unit of study.
 
Students can do research on their own or in small groups, in the classroom or at home. Younger kids might benefit from more guided searches and specific assignments while older students might enjoy more freedom to search according to their own interests. Kids can also share their reflections on their research process and contribute to a class list of “pro tips” for using the site. Helping students develop effective research skills can be overwhelming, but PebbleGo’s colorful design, easily navigable topics, and just-right amount of information make the process less daunting for teachers and learners alike. 

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PebbleGo is a kid-friendly, searchable database that covers a variety of research topics in both English and Spanish. Five main modules -- animals, science, biographies, social studies, and dinosaurs -- are divided into topics and subtopics. For example, students can narrow their biography search to women scientists or their dinosaur search to long-necked titanosaurs. Every subtopic presents a five-part report with text, photos, media, links to similar topics, printable assessment sheets, and a correct citation. As kids navigate across the images, they'll hear the topic described. Each module also includes some simple games, an article of the day, a search field, and a question of the day related to article topics. For example, in the science database, there’s a poll titled, “What is your weather today?”

Kids can read on their own or choose to have text highlighted and read to them. The modulated speech can help students improve reading fluency, but since students can’t change the speed, some might find it too slow or too fast.  Teacher resources on the administrative side include comprehensive lesson plans, printable activity sheets, and some basic overall usage statistics that include log-in frequency and popular articles.

PebbleGo is a wonderful, fun introduction to the world of database research where students can search, learn, and explore in a safe, kid-friendly environment. The topics vary enough that most kids will find something of interest, and the multiple modes of presentation such as text, read-aloud, images, and videos make it all easily accessible. Kids don’t log on with individual accounts, and while this helps keep the site safe and private, there’s no way to assess learning online or track kids’ search paths. Teachers can use the printable assessment sheets to gauge what kids are learning, and the blog offers lots of creative ideas to make research engaging. 

Giving kids practice conducting research and then reporting on it is an important exercise; it’s something they’ll certainly do a lot in their academic lives. Younger kids, though, will likely need lots of scaffolding from teachers. The games, while engaging, may not do much to spark critical thinking. They seem more likely to keep kids occupied with related educational material than to immerse them in embedded research skills. Taken as a whole, however, the intuitive user interface and wealth of standards-based content make PebbleGo a solid engagement tool for foundational research skills.

Overall Rating

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

Students can have fun exploring many areas of interest with easily accessible information and a kid-friendly design. A few games increase the interaction factor. 

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

It’s a novel approach to foundational research and citation skills, and there's no shortage of material to pique interest and satisfy curious minds.

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

Videos, images, and text-to-speech make information accessible to a variety of learning abilities. Great extensions round out learning, though a tool for teachers to track and assess progress would be helpful.


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

Teacher Reviews

(See all 22 reviews) (22 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Katie A. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Carderock Springs Elementary School
Bethesda, United States
Encourages students to be independent researchers as they explore science and social studies content
PebbleGo is an excellent source to introduce note taking and research strategies at a young age. I have found that this website works well with all students, regardless of their reading ability, because it has spoken-word audio, text highlighting, pictures, and audio/video media. The wide range of science and social studies content allows the educator to find articles that go along with common core instruction. The wide variety of topics also ensures that each student will be able to find a topic of ...
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