This digital diorama offers an in-depth exploration of biomes and the plant life they host.
On the surface, this offering from Tinybop doesn’t look like much. Underneath, however, there’s a wealth of information available to those who have the hunger and the patience to discover it. There are no pages here—only one screen that spins through the seasons via a “time dial.” As readers rotate the dial, the day begins with the rising sun. Animals appear; clouds float by; seasons change; the moon goes through its phases. If the dial isn’t accessed, the scenes continue to move but at a much slower pace. Either way, this app isn’t designed with instant gratification in mind. Yes, there are a few payoffs in obvious interactions, but they get old pretty quickly without the free, downloadable handbook available on the developer’s website. In it, readers will find comprehensive information on things like plant parts, photosynthesis and reproduction, as well as a host of probing questions designed to induce critical thinking. Children can see, for example, whether a planted seed sprouts; it won’t unless it gets the right combination of water, sun and oxygen. And figuring that out takes time.
This is more curriculum than story, best suited for older children who have the wherewithal to use this app as an independent study tool. (iPad informational app. 6-12)