Dinosaur App That Promotes Reading
In Dino Tales, your child hatches a baby dinosaur and then joins it on adventures set in a lush prehistoric world. After players go on an adventure, the app turns the explorations into a storybook that parents and children can enjoy together. The reading level of questions kids can ask inside of the adventure as well as the words used in the storybook can be set by the parent to mirror the child's ability.
How to Play
Once kids have hatched their baby dinosaur and named it, they direct where it goes within this open sandbox world. Joining them on the adventure is Darwin, a talking dinosaur guide. Kids can ask Darwin questions by using a word wheel to spin the questions into existence. The wheel lets kids ask factual questions about the dinosaurs that they meet and about locations in this prehistoric world.
At the beginning of each play session, the app suggests a location for players to find. By asking Darwin for directions, players see orange footprints to follow that appear on the ground. Kids direct their dinosaur by using an on-screen modified joy stick.
Some of the escapades that are possible include: exploring a cave, riding a lava flow, bowling with giant boulders, zooming over river rapids, and more. This world also has five other baby dinosaurs to find, that join you on your journeys. Plus, kids can collect fossils and minerals they find along the way. And if they discover berries, they can use them as paint to change the way their dinosaur looks.
Dino Tales is revolutionary in the way it uses the child's actual gameplay to create a storybook. After players are done stomping around this expansive prehistoric world, the app turns the exploration into a storybook, using photos of places the player actually visited in their adventure! This is brilliant!
When reading the story (which isn't narrated aloud), words shown in orange can be tapped to select a different but similar word. This is a clever way of helping kids to learn about synonyms while building new vocabulary. And by watching their actual game play turn into a storybook, kids start to learn how to tell a story.
The gaming part of the app empowers kids to learn about dinosaurs by putting them in control of the exploration, determining what they want to do and where they visit. Dino Tales offers a fascinating world to explore, filled with spectacular 3D visuals. When players meet a new dinosaur, they can use the word wheel to ask questions about the new beast.
The app comes with nifty parental controls, including the ability to set the appropriate reading level and the length of the dinosaur's adventure (from 10 to 45 minutes). Parents can also set up notifications so that they know when a new storybook is available for reading with their child. These storybooks are a great way for kids to share what they did inside the adventure portion of the game.
We love how the app weaves reading into a dinosaur romp. But, the control system used to direct the dinosaur is somewhat outdated and clunky. By having kids use a compass-like virtual joystick to direct the motion, the dinosaur wanders all over the place instead of going on a straight path. It would have been so much easier for kids to direct their dinosaur using their finger on the screen.
Other slight niggles include the overall map not having any instructions; and at times, after requesting the directional footprints, they failed to show up. We also found the synthesized voice of Darwin somewhat distracting. The robotic voice hinders the player's ability to build an emotional bond with Darwin. In updates to this app, we hope the developers address some of these concerns and add the ability to have multiple profiles so that families with more than one child can save the stories. Right now, there is only one profile.
Dino Tales is a great way to tickle a fossil-lover's fancy while also encouraging reading. It offers a majestic world to explore, filled with realistic-looking animated dinos. If you have a child who loves dinosaurs, but isn't so hot on reading, download this app.
>This Dino Tales app review was written by Jinny Gudmundsen.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.