MarcoPolo World School

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
MarcoPolo World School App Poster Image
Learning dialogue makes STEAM videos and games special.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn pre-reading, math, science, social studies, and the arts while using MarcoPolo World School. It's designed for kids age 3 to 7, with new activities added weekly.

Ease of Play

Very easy to use. Visual cues and audio instructions; icons that clearly show what they represent.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Subscription promoted. Parents enter date of birth to sign up for free trial.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that MarcoPolo World School is an early learning video and game app that emphasizes STEAM skills (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). Kids choose from a list of favorite subjects and watch a related topic-based video, which is then followed by a game. Parents and kids can view the monthly calendar to see what new topics are being added to the app, and parents can view kids' progress. It's a subscription-based app ($5.99/mo.), but kids can try it free for a week. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

To play MARCOPOLO WORLD SCHOOL, register for the free seven-day trial, and then tap Enroll Students and enter your kid's name and birth date. Choose one to eight favorite subjects: Literacy, Math, Science, Tech, Art, Animals, Food, and Vehicles. Scroll through the topics and tap on one. For example, tap the fish and watch the video on the great white shark. Then play the short game rearranging the letters to spell "shark."  Parents can tap on account settings to view kids' progress and choose to receive weekly progress emails, newsletter emails, and "learner's sharing emails." Each week features new content and "field trips," though that feature wasn't available at the time of review.

Is it any good?

There's a world of early learning packed into this sweet-looking app. MarcoPolo World School is an adorable, dynamic app that will reel kids into exploring many STEAM-based topics in ways that are ideal for young learners. Though on the surface it looks like the app is just a series of videos and games, the videos are top-quality and brief, and include terrific kid-inspired dialogue between the kid characters and the narrator. The way the characters interject their active thoughts on the video they're watching and the way the adult narrator positively responds is a great way to model that skill for kids (and adults). The games are brief and educational (some more than others), although some seem a bit of a stretch to relate the theme to the video. Most young kids won't care about that, as long as they're fun, but a bit more connection and depth would add even more value. Since art is a topic kids can choose as a favorite, it seems that there might be art activities coming soon, though none were available at the time of review. Also, at least one game uses letter sounds that might be confusing for early readers: the individual sounds of "s" and "h" instead of the digraph "sh" to start the word "shark." With new content added every week, MarcoPolo World School is well worth the subscription price.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how to choose favorite subjects and topics to watch on MarcoPolo World School. Are there subjects kids already know something about? What are topics that are interesting but totally new? 

  • Watch the videos with your kids and encourage them to voice their questions and comments like the app's characters do. What kinds of questions do the characters ask? Are they the same as the questions you have? How could we find the answers to other questions?

  • MarcoPolo World School was created by a Ph.D. and incorporates some of the best practices in early education, such as encouraging young kids to think critically while learning, promoting conversation, and tapping into kids' interests. Read Common Sense Media's "What type of media is best for learning?" to find out more qualities to look for in good educational apps and websites.

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