Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2014


Easily accessible, kid-friendly database for the littlest researchers

Subjects & skills
  • Critical Thinking

  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (20 Reviews)

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Pros: Kids can practice researching and reporting on what they learn (with proper citations) across a range of interesting topics.

Cons: Individual student accounts could allow for online assessment and better tracking.

Bottom Line: Delightful, safe introduction to the world of research, databases, and reporting, with interesting articles and helpful teacher supports.

In general, teachers can use these databases to teach kids about research, reporting, and citing. Through this, you can present new topics while also introducing new vocabulary. Kids 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 (e.g., Go find out about the life of Dr. Seuss and report on what you learn). Older kids might enjoy more freedom to search according to their own interests (e.g., Within the Earth and Space topic, report on something that excites you).

Kids can write, draw, or talk about what they've learned. They can fill out printable worksheets, define key words, or share with their peers. Kids can also share their reflections on their research process ("First I started with animals, then I found that animal communication was really interesting and I clicked there…"). Most teachers are likely to have their own ideas for implementation, but if you're looking for ideas or inspiration, the pre-made lesson plans can help you in the creative lesson-building process.

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PebbleGo is a kid-friendly, searchable database that covers a variety of topics. Animals, earth and space, biographies, and social studies -- each sold separately -- are further divided into topics and subtopics. For example, the weather topic contains an investigation called "What are Clouds?" Every subtopic presents a five-part report with text, photos, videos, links to similar topics, printable assessment sheets, and a correct citation.

Kids can read on their own, or choose have text read to them. Each database also includes some simple games, an article of the day, a search field, and a poll related to article topics. For example, in the biographies database, there's a poll titled, "Which artist do you like best?" The teacher resource section/administrative account has comprehensive lesson plans, printable activity sheets, and some basic overall usage statistics (log-in frequency and popular articles).

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PebbleGo is a wonderful, fun introduction to the world of database research. Kids can search, learn, and explore in a safe, kid-friendly environment. The topics are limited to what the developers have written about, but they vary enough that most kids will find something of interest. And the multiple modes of presentation (text, photos, videos, etc.) should make it all easily accessible.

Kids won't log on with an individual account, and while this helps keep the site safe and private, there isn't a way to assess learning online or track kids' search paths. However, the printable assessment sheets offer a nice way for kids to demonstrate what they've learned. 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, may need lots of scaffolding from teachers. The games offer a nice diversion, yet feel mostly like afterthoughts: They seem like they're mostly to keep kids occupied with related educational material.

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Overall Rating

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

Kids can have fun exploring an area of interest with easy-to-access 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?

Kids can learn about topics ranging from biographies to animal communication. The articles are accessible for young readers; they can read on their own or listen. It's a novel approach to foundational practice with research and citation.

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 audio support make information accessible to kids with a variety of learning abilities. Great extensions round out learning. A tool for teachers to track and assess kids' research path would be nice.

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Graham E. , Media specialist/librarian
Media specialist/librarian
Beals Elementary School
Omaha, NE
Tremendous content for a student's first experience with databases.

Because our district has a license for all schools, we have had the opportunity to use all facets of PebbleGo for the last few years. Many teachers use this to supplement social studies learning as well as teach about specific holidays. We also focus a lot on animals in the primary grades and this fills in many gaps where a library collection may fall short. One additional benefit is that after my students are done with their research, many of them want to continue on with other subjects or the games within PebbleGo.

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