Two cute mice star in this cartoon-style book app about the Grand Canyon from the creators of ABCmouse.com (a fee-based pre-school/kindergarten website with learning games and books). Their names are "123" and "ABC" and they explore this natural wonder in a way that will captivate young readers and listeners. This app doesn't have any fancy enhancements, but it makes up for this with a fun storyline, music, and expressive narration for each character.
The story begins with the mice inside what looks like a box with a screen facing out; readers will soon realize that these two friends are actually inside a computer. They can travel anywhere in the world through the Internet, magically traveling in this episode to a computer in a ranger station near the mouth of the canyon. This fun way of exploring natural history, geography and science will have kids (and adults) learning new facts and getting to be the ultimate 'armchair travelers'.
Text doesn't highlight with the voice-over, however the easy-to-read 'speech bubbles' for the cartoon characters are at the perfect reading level for 2nd/3rd grade. Kids love these types of cartoons and will really enjoy this app. Simple settings are included that allow the book to be set up with or without narration.
In 'I Can Read It' mode, it is not obvious at first that you need to tap the page several times before turning, to get each new speech bubble (the text goes away and an arrow appears once you've seen all the dialogue, making it is easy to use otherwise). There are also two pages at the end of the book with 'search and explore' ideas for animals that are present in the story. This is a fun addition, although all ten animals are on just two of the pages (the 'white-water rafting' scenes).
Overall this is a stellar early reader series that even includes a glossary for words children might need help defining within the story. There is also a fun "Grand Canyon" theme song. Children will certainly enjoy this book app, but it is also a great title for teaching about history, culture and the natural world. Highly recommended.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Age of Learning, Inc.
8 - 10 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 3 - 8
Two cute mice are talking while inside a computer in an elementary school classroom. They are listening to the teacher telling her class that there is a hole in the ground so big, the whole school and even town could fit inside of it. They decide to find out for themselves by searching on the Internet. They discover lots of facts about canyons and decide to check out the Grand Canyon for themselves.
To get there, the mice can travel anywhere, coming out wherever there is another computer connected to the Internet. On the other end, a ranger greats them and shows them around. They learn that the canyon is 277 miles long and 4 to 18 miles deep, among many other fascinating facts about the history of the people who lived there and the river that created it, before traveling back to the classroom.
When they return from their adventure (including a trip on a mule and white-water rafting), they tell a third mouse named "Do-Re-Mi" all about it. A glossary of terms is also included with the following terms defined: ancestor, canyon, Fahrenheit, gazillion, grand, journey, mammal, national park, Native American, ranger, reptile and sure-footed.
Ten animals are also part of the 'search and explore' portion of this title, including: Eagle, Big Horn Sheep, Tortoise, Rabbit, Rattlesnake, Trout, Deer, Mountain Lion, Lizard and Coyote (along with notations about where each animal lives - sky, water or Grand Canyon).
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