Pines to Vines - The Forest Biome

App review by
Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Media
Pines to Vines - The Forest Biome App Poster Image
Amazing digital textbook brings forests to kids' fingertips.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about a wide range of topics including forest layers, locations and climates of forest biomes, plant and animal adaptations, benefits of forests, and threats to forests. Kids learn about several forest types: tropical, subtropical, temperate, boreal/taiga, riverine, mangrove, cloud, and Mediterranean. Kids can use the interactive glossary to build vocabulary and improve speech and language skills. The price tag is a bit high, but, if you want a comprehensive resource to teach kids about forest biomes, this digital text delivers.

Ease of Play

Navigation is easy, and a detailed manual explains the layout and features of the app. Some features such as highlighting and note-taking require some practice. 

Violence & Scariness

Kids can see pictures of forest fires in the chapter about threats to forests. 

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The Teacher Resources section has a link to the developer's website, where other products are marketed. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pines to Vines - The Forest Biome is a comprehensive, interactive textbook designed to help kids learn about forest biomes. Six chapters cover topics in great detail, and kids can tap keywords to see supporting images and definitions throughout the chapters. Some images include fun facts that kids can tap on and open. There are numerous options to support learning, including text to speech, highlighting, and note-taking. Kids can choose from five reading levels that range from first through eighth grades, change text size, have the text read aloud, and record their own voices while reading vocabulary terms.

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What's it about?

Home page options include Read, Map, Media, and Tests. In Read, kids are taken to the reading pane, where text appears on the left side of the screen. After creating a digital bookmark that tracks reading progress, kids swipe to read text. As various keywords pass through an arrow in the middle of the reading pane, supporting media appear on the right. Kids can tap green keywords to trigger the visual support and purple keywords to see and hear word definitions. Kids also can highlight text and create notes as they read. In the Map feature, kids can rotate a globe to see the locations of different forest biomes and tap on icons to learn more. In the Media feature, kids can tap to view the media that appears within the chapters, including photos and videos. Kids also can tap to use the interactive glossary, read the app manual, create notes, and view teacher resources. In the Tests feature, kids can access chapter tests, create custom tests, and choose a reading level for each test. When finished, kids can email their tests directly to the address entered on the app as "Teacher Email."

Is it any good?

PINES TO VINES – THE FOREST BIOME is an incredibly thorough digital textbook that supports a wide variety of learning styles and abilities. Features such as text highlighting, text to speech, note-taking, chapter tests, and interactive media create an engaging, well-rounded learning experience. Kids will enjoy scrolling through the text, tapping on words and images, watching the videos, and recording their voices within the glossary.

Some of the cartoon videos are a bit unusual and do not add much to the science content, but this certainly does not take away from the multitude and depth of the other videos and digital resources offered. An interactive map of forest biomes, a photo gallery, chapter tests, a glossary, a handful of videos, and a Dropbox sync option make Pines to Vines worth the hefty price tag for kids who want to learn about forests. Because there are so many learning options and features, parents may want to offer some guidance to get kids started.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Pines to Vines compares to a more traditional textbook. What are some pros and cons of each experience?

  • Read together, and encourage kids to take notes about concepts they find most interesting.

  • Users may benefit from spending some time reviewing the manual (accessible within the app) and practicing some of the features such as highlighting and note-taking before fully diving into the content. 

App details

  • Device: iPad
  • Subjects: Science: animals, biology, ecosystems, plants
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, asking questions, memorization
  • Price: $9.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Release date: October 26, 2013
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 378.00 MB
  • Publisher: Mobile Education Store LLC
  • Version: 1.2
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.1 or later

For kids who love science

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