A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Magic School Bus: Oceans is an educational game based on an episode of the Magic School Bus TV series as well as a book. There are a ton of interactive mini-games woven into the story, and the game presents a vast amount of information about ocean life (much of which may be educational even to adults). One mini-game is about the food chain and does show fish eating other, smaller fish.
What's it about?
In The Magic School Bus: Oceans, the students have to decorate their classroom with a marine theme for Parents' Day, so Miss Frizzle takes them on a field trip to the bottom of the sea where they can learn about ocean life firsthand. At each level of the ocean (tidal basin, coral reef, etc.), kids can pick up tons of info about the kinds of fish and other creatures that live in that region. Then they're tested on that info through a series of mini-games that range from obstacle courses to straight-up quizzes.
Is it any good?
The Magic School Bus: Oceans is perfectly designed to make kids feel like they're really part of this magical field trip to the depths of the sea. It's quite a feat, really. There are a ton of hard facts in here, not just generalized basic info. And yet, Oceans always feels like a game, never a homework session. Some of the activities are pure games, like steering a sideways-walking crab through a maze of rocks and seaweed. But others draw directly on the knowledge that kids should have picked up through their exploring time. It's a great strategy, because it forces kids to go back, re-read, and really absorb the information if they want to earn enough points to unlock the next level. This is a wonderful model for educational games.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Earth's oceans. The game may get children very interested in sea life. Parents can use this as a way to then inform kids about some of the more pressing issues affecting our oceans, like the plight of coral reefs.
Does playing an educational game make the learning more fun?
- Platforms: Nintendo DS
- Subjects: Science: animals, ecosystems, life cycle
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, collecting data, solving puzzles
- Price: $19.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Scholastic
- Release date: October 25, 2011
- Genre: Educational
- ESRB rating: E for N/A
For kids who love learning from games
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