Developer: Oceahouse Media
Price: $14.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 3

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Storytelling/Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Intuitiveness Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

I would like to let readers know about Oceanhouse Media’s app, Smithsonian Prehistoric Pals Collection: an app made up of ten different dinosaur stories that each includes a choice of soothing professional narration, reading these books to oneself, as well as recording one’s own narration. These tales all focus on a specific dinosaur such as Stegosaurus, Triceratops, or Velociraptor as they go about their daily lives, often coming into conflict – be it from other dinosaurs or even the harsh environments in which they live.

photo 1Each of these titles is colorfully illustrated with very detailed images of dinosaurs that I really appreciate. I also enjoy the use of panning and zooming in these illustrated pages to draw the readers eye, as well as many unique perspectives are included – creating a sense of movement as these dinosaurs are on the go throughout these pages. The music and ambient sounds are used for a nice effect as well. As one may expect, some drama is included and Predator-Prey Relationships are explored to some degree, but I like how these stories tend to focus on the natural defenses of the animals in momentary peril, be it swinging their tail or their protective armor that they may possess. These tales do a nice job of allowing children to empathize with these creatures when it comes to moments such as looking for food, protecting their young, or trying to find their way back home, without totally anthropomorphizing these animals.

Also nice is that within these ten stories, the focus can shift from that of a plant-eating Apatosaurus to carnivores such as the T- Rex, showing both points-of-view from different areas of the food chain, which I found interesting. Although it is a stretch to call these stories non-fiction, there is a lot information about these dinosaurs presented in a way that I am fond of, and it is nice to know that these stories have been looked over by the paleontologists at the Smithsonian Institution keep the information provided in line with what is known about these creatures. Children’s understanding of these animals is further rounded out with a section included at the end of each of these stories that goes into more depth about each subject, such as time periods in which they lived, their size, and other details that make these creatures unique.

photo 5 Those familiar with Oceanhouse Media will be aware that these stories include picture/word associations – fun for even older children who want to become acquainted with different dinosaurs seen among these pages, as a tap will label the type of creature they are interested in with text and spoken word. Also quite helpful is the ability for readers to tap individual words on the page while reading to help with pronunciation – quite a nice feature that allows readers to enjoy these stories unencumbered, even when extra help is needed.

Smithsonian Prehistoric Pals Collection would make a lovely gift for any family that has dinosaur-loving children. They are exciting and informative stories that will be enjoyed by all ages, making this app worth purchasing. Also note that each of these stories can be downloaded as individual tales as well.

Posted in: Animals, Art, Books, By Age Range, By App Feature, Education, iPad Books, iPad Education, iPhone Apps and Games, Language, Nature, Parents and Kids, Preschool, Primary School, Reading, Reviews, Science, Stories, Toddlers

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