MarcoPolo Ocean

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
MarcoPolo Ocean App Poster Image
Preschoolers build, explore, and play in colorful ocean app.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about ocean ecosystems, marine mammals, plants, and fish, as well as boats and submarines on MarcoPolo Ocean. As they explore the ocean ecosystems and what lives there through puzzles and free play, kids learn topic-specific vocabulary such as fish body parts, parts of a ship, and aquatic animal behavior. Even preschoolers can learn some early engineering vocabulary, as they build and learn the names of parts of submarines and boats. MarcoPolo Ocean creates a fun environment for kids to explore and gain an appreciation for the waters that cover so much of the Earth's surface, the animals that live there, and the vessels humans use to explore it.

Ease of Play

Well designed for preschoolers. The verbal instruction, sound effects, and visual clues all help kids know what to do next in a puzzle or what their options are during free play. Sometimes it's not entirely clear what certain animals can do, and only some parts of puzzles include more information, so kids may wonder in those instances what to do next, but the app offers clues in those cases, too.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that MarcoPolo Ocean is a beautiful free-play and puzzle app that includes five fun activities. It's colorfully animated and narrated to help kids of preschool age and up form an overall concept of what undersea environments look like and what animals live in them. Kids can explore a coral reef in shallow areas of the ocean, or take a dive to see what lives in the dark depths of the ocean. They can assemble pictures of marine animals and learn their names and body parts and then make the animals swim through the water with realistic motion. MarcoPolo Ocean also invites kids to build a ship and a submarine, puzzle-style, to explore human-made transportation above and below the water. Throughout play a narrator gives kids brief facts about more than 30 species of fish and marine mammals as well as some marine-vessel vocabulary, too. 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?

Tap Play and enter the main screen, which includes a shoreline and an ocean. Swipe the fish icon to view all the types of fish you can add to the scene. Tap the puzzle icon to hear information about ocean life and access a puzzle, which will highlight an activity such as reef building. As kids fill in the puzzle, the narrator speaks related vocabulary words. Tap on the wave icon to return to the main screen and play in other ocean landscapes for more exploring, facts, and puzzles. There's just enough of a dip into ocean knowledge within the waves of kid-friendly interactivity on MARCOPOLO OCEAN.

Is it any good?

Diving into the wonders of the ocean is easy with MarcoPolo Ocean, as kids simply tap, drag, and swipe to explore. The friendly narrator keeps facts brief, indicating only the term for many of the puzzle pieces ("Fluke," she says as kids place the orca's tail into the puzzle) and a slightly longer explanation for other environments or animals. If kids can't find where a puzzle piece fits, it flashes to give them a clue. There are a few tidbits that aren't totally in line with real ocean life. For example, in the section about marine mammals, there's a manatee pictured in the same environment as a polar bear, which may make it seem as if those animals live in the same area of the ocean. Also, sometimes kids will need to practice trial and error to find out how certain parts of the free play work. The kid-protected parent section includes explanation of the app's activities and settings, as well as extension ideas for parents.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Read through the kid-protected parent section to find extension ideas, such as a fun sink-or-float activity, to continue learning.

  • Check out websites that include images of different boats and submarines so kids can view actual photos of parts of those vessels that they've learned to identify on the animated versions they pieced together on MarcoPolo Ocean.

  • If you have a public aquarium nearby, take a family field trip and visit it to see the real thing. Or watch a documentary-based movie featuring oceans such as Disney's Oceans.

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