The Earth by Tinybop

App review by
Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Media
The Earth by Tinybop App Poster Image
Ignite curiosity and investigate geology hands-on.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about processes that shape Earth's surface, including weathering, erosion, and deposition. They learn how these processes change Earth and contribute to the formation of landforms such as mountains and sand dunes. Kids also can explore fascinating features such as hot spots, stalactites, and stalagmites. They swipe and tap to learn about Earth's layers, and they can create volcanic eruptions and mild earthquakes. Kids who are comfortable with a free-play environment will benefit most from this learning tool. However, for more structure, a teaching handbook is available to download from the developer's website. Either way, it's important to reinforce the idea that most of the processes that change Earth's surface occur over millions of years, which might be difficult for some younger kids to grasp. Though the concepts might be lost on some, The Earth by Tinybop is a beautiful and fun way to explore the changing planet.

Ease of Play

There aren't any instructions, so kids will need to figure out all the interactive features. Most, but not all, are intuitive.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

Users have an opportunity to purchase other apps by the developer.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Earth by Tinybop is an interactive model that teaches kids about Earth's history and its ever-changing landforms. Kids can freely explore volcanoes, earthquakes, mountains, glaciers, and more by tapping on or dragging features; each element is labeled, but there's no direct instruction. There's a handbook available on the developer's website, which includes helpful information about the app's features and discussion questions to share with kids. The app is available in many languages, including English, Arabic, Japanese, German, Spanish, and many more.

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What's it about?

In THE EARTH BY TINYBOP kids start by tapping their user icons, which adults must set up as user accounts in the dashboard. A large image of Earth appears on the screen; when kids tap, a geological time scale appears above Earth, and kids can swipe the scale to learn the names of various eons. As kids scroll, they see various land formations -- including a volcano, fault lines, erosion, and rockslides -- and each has interactive features. When kids slide a panel, they change their view from the surface level to a behind-the-scenes view that has optional labels for each element. Kids also can access a menu along the left side of the screen at any time to navigate to a location without scrolling.

Is it any good?

This learning tool inspires curiosity and is an inventive, interactive way for kids to explore Earth, but some of the topics and vocabulary may be a bit too advanced for the target age. For example, the types of faults are named, and kids can manipulate how they function, but without any other context, most kids won't get a real handle on the differences. Adding narration could help, especially with the vocabulary terms. Also, the passage of time isn't clear, so changes that take eons seem to happen within seconds. Overall, kids will definitely enjoy the interactivity, and they'll feel empowered to explore the amazing graphics at their own pace, but some kids might require a bit more direction. The teaching handbook can help make the most of the learning experience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the planet changes over time. Compare some of the slow changes to Earth with those that happen quickly, such as forest fires or floods.

  • Use the handbook's discussion questions to guide learning as kids explore Earth and its features.

  • Work together to create an illustrated glossary and a time line of Earth's history. Include labels for eons.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Subjects: Science: geology
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: asking questions
  • Price: $2.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Release date: September 16, 2015
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 436.40 MB
  • Publisher: Tinybop
  • Version: 1.2.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 7.0 or later; Android 2.3 and up
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love geology and science

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