Dinosaur Train A to Z

Common Sense Media says

Encyclopedia-like exploration with focus on science skills.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Some screens have a hand guiding kids on how to interact, but most leave them to explore on their own. Words are highlighted as they're read, and kids can tap a word to hear it again. The train part of the game is preschooler-focused, but the classifying dino section may be beyond most preschoolers.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The app ties in with the PBS Kids show Dinosaur Train. Additional dinosaur packs are $0.99 each. Links to "more apps" and "more dinosaurs" appear at the bottom of the start screen, but they're protected with a parents-only question.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Details in the parent section explain that the app collects anonymous data to help improve the experience but collects no personally identifiable data.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Dinosaur Train A to Z packs lots of information and some characters from the PBS Kids show Dinosaur Train into an interactive dinosaur encyclopedia. The app comes with 26 dinosaurs, one for each letter of the alphabet, and additional 10-packs of dinosaurs are $0.99 each via in-app purchase. Kids can choose a dinosaur by selecting the letter on a train car, or they can search by trait (or multiple traits) based on diet, body, and time period. They also can play with the alphabet, dragging letters onto a scene. Mr. Conductor narrates -- which fans of the show will appreciate -- but pteranodon and T. rex are not included in the basic pack, and fans of the show will miss them.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • vocabulary

Science

  • animals

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • collecting data
  • investigation

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

This is an information-driven app, and, although it's interactive, kids' engagement will come from their interest in the dinosaurs, and the app may not hold the interest of kids who aren't dino-obsessed. Overall, it's just not as engaging as the TV show.

Learning Approach

The scientific concepts of classifying can transfer to other areas, and the vocabulary is useful in other scientific studies. With direction, kids can practice spelling words or their names in the letters section.

Support

Extensions are available for additional purchase. Kids can star favorite dinosaurs for easier reference.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • vocabulary

Science

  • animals

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • collecting data
  • investigation

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Kids can learn about dinosaurs and practice scientific thinking as they explore the classifications. They'll learn scientific vocabulary such as paleontologist, continent, prey, herbivore, and carnivore in context. Kids can learn which dinosaurs lived in the different time periods, what they ate, and what their body types were. The app highlights words as they're read aloud. Kids can learn capital letters by exploring the letters section. Dinosaur Train A to Z is a fine tool for studying dinosaurs for kids really interested in the subject.

This Learning Rating review was written by Amanda Bindel

What's it about?

Music and characters from the PBS show lead kids on the Dinosaur Train, where they can explore dinosaur facts. They can search dinosaurs on the train by letter or in the dinosaur section by classification. They're classified by the food they eat, their legs, and the period in which they lived. Kids choose a dinosaur, hear facts about it, see an X-ray of it, and feed it. Kids can mark a favorite dino with a star to easily find it again. In the letters section, kids drag uppercase letters onto a rock, hearing the letter's name as they drag it.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

DINOSAUR TRAIN A TO Z is a must-have for dinosaur-obsessed kids. They'll get to learn facts about 26 dinosaurs and play around with them. Budding scientists will get a kick out of searching by categories. Kids who are looking for more game-like fun or characters from the show may be disappointed. This is a pretty scientific app with information and vocabulary geared for older kids but presented in small enough chunks that preschoolers will grasp some of it. Since only 26 dinos are included, kids may not find their favorites included (there's no T. rex), which may lead to requests to buy more dino packs. The letters section is a fun way to explore uppercase letters (but note that it's open exploration with no direction or phonics). Kids drag any letter and hear the letter's name.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the app complements the Dinosaur Train TV show. Look up dinosaurs featured on that day's episode in the app.

  • Help young preschoolers understand that they can feed the dino (in the food section) or hear its sound (in that section).

  • Play around with selecting classifications of dinosaurs to study one period or type at a time.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
Price:$.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Release date:February 24, 2014
Category:Education
Topics:Dinosaurs, Numbers and letters
Size:188.00 MB
Publisher:PBS KIDS
Version:1.3
Minimum software requirements:iOS 6.0 or later; Android 4.0 and up

This review of Dinosaur Train A to Z 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.

Find out more

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; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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