Dynastid Beetle is a fun and educational interactive app for children. To those living in the United States, an application dedicated to learning about a beetle may seem like an odd choice, so it is worth noting that dynastid Beetles are commonly kept as pets within Asian households. Versions of this app are available for both iPad as well as iPhone.
This interactive app contains five sections - each dedicated to teaching a specific aspect about the lives of dynastic beetles.
The Body does a nice job of introducing the unique look of this beetle to readers, giving children a chance to rotate a beetle 360 degrees, tapping specific areas to get a close-up image with included narration and text for a nice effect. I also like how two different vantage points are included - both looking down at the beetle to see the top and belly of this creature or from the side, giving a better view of the legs and profile of this insect.
The Habitat section of this app includes an interactive globe that one can tap on to learn about where these beetles can be found, including detailed close-up photos that nicely show the differences and similarities of these beetles.
How They Move contains some nice interactive moments as well, allowing children to move this beetle with the tap of a finger, as well as to create tree sap for these beetles to eat by drawing a circle and helping the beetle to fly with the drag of a finger. The included illustrations are especially effective in this section, showing beetles and the trees they feed from in great, realistic detail. It also includes a lush, green background that is very pleasing to look at.
My personal favorite section of this app is How They Grow, as it includes many other thoughtful interactions which help these beetles mature into adulthood from their egg stage, including a manual temperature control and the feeding of leaf mold to larva.
My son and I have enjoyed helping a beetle fly, or having completed the larva stage, shed his skin to become an adult as well as exploring the entire life cycle of this insect with the use of a scroll bar. This allows for these changes to occur in slow motion, showing a lot of intriguing, educational detains that I really appreciate.
Another interesting area is the Battle section, showing how Dynastic beetles uses their horn to fight against stag beetles that have pinchers instead, reminding me vaguely of the Rock'Em Sock-Em toy, as one taps a button showing off both these beetles' defensive or offensive skills in a way that is sporty but not violent, showcasing the horn of the dynastid beetle vs. the pinchers of another insect.
A quiz on what one has learned is also included, as are video clips that include a scene focusing on a larva eating tree sap, a day in the life activities such as walking or climbing, and the meeting of boy and girl beetles, nicely showing the differences in size as well as other details.
I have really enjoyed all the information offered within The Dynastid Beetle. I am fond of science-related apps in general, and I think this app is a great choice for young children to learn about an insect that they may know little about. The interactions are varied and really go far in terms of teaching about the life cycle of this beetle.
I am impressed by how smitten I have become with the cute larva I have been introduced to within this app - a creature I never thought a lot about before, let alone had feeling for.
The only element I was not fond of was the voice of the narrator who spoke for this beetle as well as the other beetle voices introduced within this app for being overly saccharine and adding an unneeded amount of anthropomorphism for my personal taste, but children may enjoy this cute narration nonetheless, and it is possible that some children may need this cartoony voice to relate to this creature.
I am glad to have shared this app with my son, especially after he inexplicably mentioned that “beetles are bad” out of the blue one day when talking about animals before exploring this application - something he no longer believes after spending time getting to know these dynastid beetles.