Leafsnap

Common Sense Media says

Leaf collecting goes high tech with free field guide app.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Leaves to be identified must be photographed on a white background, and then potential matches appear. This app definitely requires some discernment on the part of users that may be too difficult for younger kids or people who have no knowledge of trees or leaf identification. Some of the terms in Latin may not make sense to kids who are familiar with the more common names. The games, however, are straightforward and easy to play.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

The app asks to use your location to assist in its identification functions. You can create a username or use the general username that the app assigns.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that nature-enthusiast kids can take a photo of a leaf, and Leafsnap will help them identify the tree by using visual recognition software. There are also games to sharpen kids' tree-identification skills. This free app will catalog your leaf photos so you can build your own reference along with the extensive list already on the app. The app provides similar matches to the photo of the leaf in question, but it's up to the user to make the final call on what looks like the closest match. This is the first in a series of app field guides being created by Columbia University, University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. There's also an iPad-only version called Leafsnap For iPad.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • plants

Arts

  • photography

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • analyzing evidence
  • applying information
  • hypothesis-testing

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Nature-enthusiast kids will enjoy this impressive visual recognition software and likely find the games engaging. Anyone can appreciate the beautiful photos in the well-designed leaf collection catalog. 

Learning Approach

Kids identify trees via their leaves, building the concept of part-whole relationship. Kids also use technology to learn how visual recognition software works. Users can build a reference collection on this adaptable, empowering app.

Support

The photos, on-screen measurements, and information supply users with lots of data. This app will also catalog your leaf photos so you can build your own reference guide.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • plants

Arts

  • photography

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • analyzing evidence
  • applying information
  • hypothesis-testing

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Kids can learn more about trees by identifying them via their leaves, and learn how visual recognition software works -- or sometimes doesn't work. When a kid snaps photos of leaves, Leafsnap provides similar matches, but it's up to the user to make the final call on what looks like the closest match. Kids also learn about the process of cataloging leaf photos to build a reference collection. Leafsnap is currently limited in its scope to species found most readily in the American Northeast. Still, kids almost anywhere can learn more about trees with this tech-savvy leaf collection.

This Learning Rating review was written by Dana Villamagna

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What's it about?

Nature-loving kids can use Leafsnap to help identify trees. Kids pick a leaf, lay it on a sheet of white paper, and snap an image with their device. When a list of similar-looking leaves appears on the side of the screen, kids compare details to choose a match -- some of which appear much more likely than others. Kids then choose their match and read more detailed information about the tree, save the image to their own catalog, and keep building their online leaf collection.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This isn't a perfect leaf ID'ing tool, but LEAFSNAP can definitely help kids become more familiar with leaves and trees. And the catalog and games are solidly educational with beautiful photos. If you're taking your phone out on a hike to use this app as a field guide, be prepared to bring a white sheet of paper or something with you because you have to take the photos of leaves you want to identify on a white background. Currently, this app focuses on areas in the Eastern United States, but it promises to include leaves from the entire continental U.S. soon.

Families can talk about...

  • Walk a local park with your kid, choosing leaves of trees to snap for the app. Don't forget to bring a white sheet of paper for photo background.

  • Start a leaf collection the old fashioned way, taping leaves on paper and labeling them with the info you find on this app, as well as tactile info such as smell and feel of the leaves.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:May 15, 2011
Category:Education
Size:50.80 MB
Publisher:Columbia University, University of Maryland, and Smithsonian Institution
Version:1.05
Minimum software requirements:iOS 4.2 or later

This review of Leafsnap was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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