MarcoPolo Arctic

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
MarcoPolo Arctic App Poster Image
Learn science and vocabulary with sweet arctic animals.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about 30 animals from the arctic habitat, including different types of whales, birds, land animals, and sea animals. They'll examine features of each animal that help it survive, and they'll learn more about what each animal eats. Facts are mostly delivered by a narrator, but kids also discover hands-on as they play in the arctic sandbox, moving the animals around and feeding them. MarcoPolo Arctic introduces kids to sophisticated vocabulary related to animals and the arctic and lets them learn hands-on through the virtual world.

Ease of Play

Kids drag parts of each animal into place while learning more about the animal and its habitat fom the narrator. They also can play with the animals in the arctic habitat. There are no penalties for wrong moves.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A logo ad for other apps appears on the start page and leads to a screen showing the three volumes of the discovery series of apps. Connecting to the app store requires inputting an adult's birth year.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that MarcoPolo Arctic is a sandbox-style app for kids to explore the arctic while learning about the animals that live there. There's no right or wrong way to play -- kids just explore. In the puzzle section, they drag parts of each animal into place or drag the outline of the animal into position while hearing narration about that animal. Then, they can play with that animal and others in the ocean, on the icy shore, or in the grassy area. Kids can feed the animals from some selections in the tray that runs along the bottom (raw meat, grass, flowers, shrimp, and fish) but they can't feed the animals to other animals, so there's no carnage. Seven language options are available, including French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Simplified Chinese. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

In MARCOPOLO ARCTIC kids explore the landscape, which scrolls across the screen to show water, an icy shore, sky, and tundra. As they complete puzzles featuring animals, kids will hear more about the animal and how certain parts of its body serve it in its habitat. In the landscape, kids can feed the animals, play with beach balls or snowballs, and watch them swim and explore. Other animals can pop up from dens. To save the scene for the next playtime, choose "save environment" in the settings.

Is it any good?

This sweet, fun app packs some solid scientific learning into totally kid-friendly play. The graphics and animations are lovely, and the ways kids can interact are delightful. There are no instructions or rules for play, but kids will discover the fun as they explore. Also, parents can read more about some of the discoveries kids can make in the "more" section of the parent settings. One of the cutest discoveries is finding which animals will eat meat: The herbivores respond by shaking their heads when offered the raw piece of meat, while the carnivores eat it up. The animals also drink water from a glass, which is charming though not-at-all realistic. It's possible kids will lose interest in constructing the puzzles -- where most of the direct learning happens -- and the interactive environment is somewhat limited, but kids will enjoy the variety of animals and habitats to explore.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Read books with kids about the arctic and the animals that live there. The parent section includes a list of recommended fiction and nonfiction books.

  • Let kids tell you about the animals as they play, narrating stories about the animals and their interactions. Ask questions to get them started, such as "Can this animal swim?" or "What do you think this animal eats?"

App details

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