By Amanda Bindel,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Rich dinosaur world combined with reading practice.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Kids can learn facts about dinosaurs, minerals, and fossils as well as develop their vocabulary and practice reading. As they ask Darwin questions and make discoveries, they'll learn scientific facts, though the fossils they collect are really only awards and not a part of the learning process. As they read the narratives recounting the day's adventure, they'll see vivid word choice and elaboration techniques, though many of the books are basically the same, and the younger reading levels have less elaboration than the older levels. Overall, Dino Tales is a an interesting combination of adventure game and language arts practice, but it's possible that kids will want to focus more on the game component and won't bother reading the created books.
Ease of Play
Controls are a bit awkward, with a directional joystick used on the screen rather than the dinosaur following the swipe of a finger.
Violence & Scariness
Dinosaur-head-shaped cave is dark with bats and spooky noises, which might be scary for some kids.
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Products & Purchases
Logo ad on the start page links to other apps but is protected by a parent lock that requires entering an adult's birth year.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dino Tales is an educational game that teaches kids about dinosaurs while also developing descriptive writing skills. They'll roam around the island, discovering and hatching eggs and keeping their dinosaurs fed. They'll learn facts about each dinosaur by generating their own questions, playing around with the dinosaurs, and reading books about their adventures. Parents can set up an account with the child's name, which then will be used in the games. They also can customize the kid's reading level and set a time limit for play: 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or 45 minutes.
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What’s It About?
Starting with one dinosaur, kids explore parts of the DINO TALES island, collecting fossils and looking for eggs that hatch and join them on their journey. They feed and play with the dinosaurs, moving them with finger controls or painting them different colors, and they collect different awards for their discoveries. The dinosaur guide, Darwin, answers questions on demand that kids customize from a scrolling list of words. Once they've hatched a dinosaur and explored with it, they can read the story of its journey, choosing words to customize the tale. Each new tale begins with a goal-oriented task, such as knocking over boulders, but there's no consequence if a kid doesn't complete the prescribed adventure.
Is It Any Good?
Despite confusing navigation and awkward controls, kids will love exploring the island and learning about dinosaurs in this rich, layered world. Kids navigate using directional arrows rather than simply guiding the dinosaurs with their fingers on the screen, which would be more intuitive for them; also, the map doesn't help kids get around to specific places on the island, which they're supposed to do. Once they've created a story, kids can read the book, but there's no audio component for kids just learning to read, and the books have a lot of overlapping content. Still, the varied activities -- creating questions, discovering treasures, painting dinosaurs, reading stories, and investigating the island -- will keep kids entertained, engaged, and learning. Parents will appreciate the controls they have, too, for customizing the reading level, sharing kids' creations, and controlling their time playing the game.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what we know about dinosaurs and how scientists research something they've never seen alive.
Talk to kids about the different word choices in the books. How does changing one word affect the meaning? Make up sentences of your own and take turns changing one word of the sentence.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
- Subjects: Language & Reading: storytelling, Science: animals, geology, rocks and minerals
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: asking questions, thinking critically
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Release date: July 21, 2015
- Category: Education
- Topics: Dinosaurs
- Publisher: Kuato Studios
- Version: 1.3.52
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.0 or later; Android 4.0.3 and up
- Last updated: July 12, 2020
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