Sunday, August 12, 2012

Barefoot World Atlas - book and iPad app (ages 5 - 10)

Did you ever sit spinning the globe as a child, then poking it to see where your finger landed? I remember running my finger over the raised mountains of the Alps and the Himalayas, imagining just how tall those mountains were. There is something amazing about a spinning globe that enables children to see the connections between countries. The Barefoot World Atlas brings this concept to an iPad app, enabling young children to spin the globe to search for information on countries around the world.
Barefoot World Atlas
written by Nick Crane
illustrated by David Dean
app developed by TouchPress and Barefoot Books
book published by Barefoot Books, 2011
app available at the iTunes store
book available at your local library and on Amazon
ages 5 - 10
Young children have a difficult time envisioning the large extent of our world. Our first graders are learning about different regions of the world, but it's hard to see how the separate parts relate to the whole. This app provides a wonderful opportunity to let children explore the globe.
Zoom out, and you can spin the globe to find a region you want to explore. Pinch and zoom in to focus on a particular country or feature. Tap a country to read pertinent facts, such as the capital, the current time and temperature, the land area and population. Even more interesting, tap an illustrated feature such as the Parthenon in Greece, the Library of Celsus in Turkey, or the Imam Ali Mosque in Iraq and a narrator will read a short paragraph explaining about this place. Tap the photo icon and you can see a full-color photograph - bringing the "real world" aspect into focus for young children. These featured items range from important historic buildings to local animals to native people.
The Barefoot World Atlas is a good example of a nonfiction iPad app for our youngest students - making them interested in exploring the world around us. It combines many ways of engaging with material: attractive illustrations, interesting photographs, intuitive navigation, clear narration and sound effects, and - most importantly - the opportunity for young children to direct their own exploration. It does have some limitations. There is an odd sense of material left out - most major cities and capitals are not labeled, and many known important features are left out. It is clear that the developers worked hard to keep the material accessible and not overwhelm young viewers, and that is important. But the sense of items missing is noticeable to children, who will look for features and cities they know.

Watch this video to get a sense of how kids enjoy interacting with this app:

I know several classrooms that have enjoyed using this app with first graders exploring the regions of the world. I look forward to exploring other apps like it, helping children explore the world around us!

Do you love sharing nonfiction with your children? Head over to The Nonfiction Detectives today for more excellent Nonfiction Monday reviews from around the Kidlitosphere.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Barefoot Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. Hi Mary Ann, would check out this APP pronto. Looks amazing!

  2. Thanks for the rec. - I know some kids who would love this . . .

  3. great suggestion! i downloaded it for my 3rd grader. Just got an ipad for my birthday and haven't been using it for anything educational--just watching Lost on netflix!

  4. Well this makes me think seriously about letting my older son use may iPad sometimes.