My six year old and the iPad and Discovery Education U.S. Geography App for the iPad

Okay, I admit that I have been a reluctant iPad convert.  We bought one for the ed. tech department at CREC so we could see what, if any, value they might have for education.  About two weeks ago it was my turn to give it a test drive.  The first thing I did when I brought it home was hand it to my six year old daughter.  I was very curious to see what she thought.  After about five minutes of instruction, she was off and running.  The first thing she tried was the Virtuoso keyboard app.  She was playing Doe a Deer within seconds.  After playing for a couple of minutes, she moved on to the Pocket Pond.  She figured out how to release the fireflies and smack them so they fell into the pond.  Once in the pond, the fish would swim over and eat them.  She also was able to add lily pads to the pond.  I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of them, but she figured out that by double tapping them, they would go away.  Later that evening, she and my wife walked through the backyard to my in-laws house.  A couple of minutes later, she called me to ask if she could come back to get the iPad to show her grandmother.  I walked over a half hour later to find the two of them playing duets on the virtual keyboard!!  And that was only the first day!

Now, onto the U.S Geography App.  This is geared to fifth graders, but could be fun for anyone interested in learning more about the good old USA.  After signing in, the player chooses a region of the country.  Each region has activities, challenges and fun facts & videos.  By reading the fun facts and watching the videos, the players learn information that helps them during the activities and challenges.  There are six activities, Region Overview, Climate, Bodies of Water, Landforms and Major Cities, each with three levels.  There are six to ten questions at each level.   Awards are given for each level completed.

This is a fun game to play.  I would like to see fifth graders use it to see it’s real value, but it certainly is engaging.  I learned a number of things about New England that I didn’t know before.  Did you know that the Mather School, founded in Dorchester, MA in 1639 was the first public elementary school in America?  The one objection I have is that there is a very limited number of questions, most of which are repeated from level to level.  


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