I’m a big fan of using educational apps in the classroom. The students LOVE using iPads, so they can work independently on iPads while freeing me up to focus on individuals or small groups. When I was contacted byBright World eBooks to review their first app, Ocean Forests, I jumped at the chance to test it.
As soon as I logged in, I was pleasantly surprised by the graphics and sound effects (I recommend turning off the music, but leaving other sounds on). It took me right into an underwater scene where I could choose to read, explore, or play a game. I decided to opt for what I’m sure my students would have picked– the games. There were two to pick from, a matching game or a skill/timing game. But here’s the best part– the games were based on information the students would have learned exploring the other parts of the app first! They were complicated enough that my own background knowledge alone wouldn’t have been enough to solve all of them, which means students would have to go back and do the learning portions in order to be successful in the games. I’d call that a win!
So after learning my lesson, I hopped back over to the home screen. Still keeping my students in mind, I opted for “explore” instead of “read” this time. I was then transported back into the ocean where animals and plants were abundant. When touched, a narrator gives a quick fact about each item. When touched a second time, I was given a new fact. Many of the items had multiple facts. A student could easily spend lots of time here exploring while constantly learning something new. And again, the sound effects were great. It felt like you were underwater.
Finally, I headed back to the home screen and opted to read this time. I had three options here: I could listen to the story, read by myself, or record myself reading. I experimented with each option. I liked the story/read along part well. It was a good pace and the words were highlighted to make it easy to follow along. There’s a glossary built in too to help with vocabulary words. But, my favorite part here was the record option. I could envision myself having students do a re-reading here. First, they’d listen. Second, they’d read on their own silently. Third, they’d record themselves and then leave it for me to listen to later. Not only does this keep them accountable for their independent learning time, but it would also provide me with valuable data.
Overall, I was super impressed. Ocean Forests is just the first app in a series that will be produced by Bright World eBooks. Future apps will focus on other natural science topics for ages 5 – 8. It’s definitely worth a closer look. At $2.99, it’s a great price too! I think it’s perfect for the elementary classroom or summer learning at home too. If you decide to give it a try, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!