Scholastic First Discovery: The ForestSpring 2013 Mobile Apps
"All forest are different," says the narrator of this app, before launching into an explanation that focuses on temperate forests. Children will learn where each type of forest is and what type of climate it has. They will practice identifying the coniferous and deciduous trees of the temperate forest by looking at the leaves each grows. Simple activities demonstrate changing seasons' effect on both coniferous (evergreen) and deciduous (leaf-shedding) trees.
Other forest flora and fauna feature prominently in this app. The animal and insect residents deciduous forests appear, including lesser known species like the turtledove and the Giant Capricorn Beetle. On another screen, common forest flowers blossom as their colorful buds are tapped. There is even a very practical lesson on mushroom and fruit picking. Children pick them and discover whether they are edible or toxic.
Our testers enjoyed this app, but they wished that the abundant information in this app had been better organized. Sometimes the narrator used advanced vocabulary without defining it, for example. At other times, it was unclear how to navigate throughout the app. While it looks possible to tap on different forests to see them explained from the app's intro screen, we found it impossible to do this.
In spite of our reservations about the app's organization, we still found Scholastic's First Discovery: Forest app to be a successful exploration of forests. By including a lesson about the consequences of cutting down forests, the app gives children a sense for why what they have learned in this app matters.