Ocean Forests

App review by
Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Media
Ocean Forests App Poster Image
Dive deep into learning with reading, exploration, games.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the animals and plants of kelp forests in addition to related vocabulary and basic ecology. In the reading section, they can either read on their own or listen to narration with highlighting, which supports kids with varying reading abilities. In both versions they can tap a word to hear it and access the dictionary to learn even more. The exploration section of the app teaches kids more detailed information about specific parts of the kelp forest, helping them make a connection between visual and text versions of scientific concepts. Each game allows kids to apply what they learned in different ways and provide fun feedback and rewards. Ocean Forests is definitely a standout resource about ocean life and a great example of how tech can bring a book to life in many ways.

Ease of Play

Content is well-organized, and a detailed tutorial explains how to use all the features.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A parent-only link takes users to the developer's website, which includes a lot of company information.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ocean Forests is a digital resource -- far more involved than a typical ebook -- that teaches kids about kelp forests. They can read or listen to text, explore an animated world to learn about animals and features of the kelp forest environment, or play ocean-themed games. The ebook section includes a vocabulary component that defines some of the words, and kids can record themselves reading. Each game includes three levels. Further related activities are on the website.

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What's it about?

In OCEAN FOREST, the learning begins once kids tap a bubble hovering over an ocean that says, "Dive!" There are three main learning categories: Reading, Exploring, and Gaming. In Reading, kids can listen to a narrated ebook about kelp forests, read the book on their own, or record themselves reading the book aloud. Along the way, they can tap a dictionary to see underlined words and get definitions for them. In Exploring, kids are immersed in a realistic kelp forest and can tap features to hear about them. For example, if they tap on the harbor seal, they learn about its habits and place in the ecosystem. If kids tap on a feature multiple times, they learn new information. In Gaming, kids can play two games that test their knowledge of kelp forests; one is a matching game where kids match pictures of the animals to their names, and the other is a multiple-choice game where kids retrieve submarines representing the correct answer to a question about the kelp forest. Both games include three levels.

Is it any good?

This digital resource is an interactive way for kids to learn about ecosystems, and it's filled with beautiful graphics, mesmerizing music, solid scientific information, and fun games. Content is age-appropriate and provides kids with an opportunity to build vocabulary while learning. Though the various reading options are great, it also would be nice if kids could navigate the ebook by chapter or even bookmark the page they last read. The graphics are truly beautiful and feel immersive. As a fun way for kids to apply and expand on what they learned, the games are great, and the submarine game lets kids remove garbage from the ocean; however, the mechanics are sometimes difficult, especially on the fastest level. It also might be helpful to label the levels as "Easy" or "Harder," as it's not quite clear how the numbering represents the difficulty level and features. Unlike many ebook apps, this one provides a rich experience that will captivate kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of biodiversity in the kelp forest. Ask kids to list the animals and plants that depend on one another for survival.

  • Have kids create an illustrated dictionary using the underlined words and dictionary from the ebook.

  • Talk about other ecosystems. Which animals live in the rainforest? How do they interact with each other?

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love animals and ebooks

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