I think one of the greatest joys in life, whether you are an adult or a child, is being able to spend time outdoors. Admiring the trees, smelling the flowers, listening to the chirping of birds... basically, connecting with nature.
These days though, kids spend more time glued to their tablets, so it can be difficult to get them to venture outside the house. Well, if you can’t beat them, why not join them? Just introduce them to Outside Your Door, a selection of nature-themed picture books by Dr. Seuss.
Welcome to Nature
Outside Your Door contains four full titles from Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library: I Can Name 50 Trees Today!; Oh Say Can You Seed?; My, Oh My-A Butterfly!; and Fine Feathered Friends. As you might expect from the titles, each book revolves around a specific natural topic.
In I Can Name 50 Trees Today!, kids join Cat in the Hat, Sally, and Dick as they learn about some of the world’s amazing trees. Other than the names of the trees, kids also learn how to identify different species from the shape of their crowns, leaves, seeds, bark, and fruit.
In Oh Say Can You Seed?, kids explore all there is to know about plants with the Cat in the Hat. This includes the anatomy of a plant, seed, and flowers; basic photosynthesis and pollination; and seed dispersal.
My, Oh My-A Butterfly! is a book about well, butterflies. It follows the Cat in the Hat, Sally, and Dick as they observe a complete metamorphosis as a butterfly egg in their backyard hatch into a caterpillar, turn into a chrysalis, and then emerge as a beautiful butterfly.
In Fine Feathered Friends, kids join the Cat in a Hat on a birdwatching tour and learn about the names of various birds: ostriches, bee hummingbirds, flycatchers, bald eagles, penguins, and more. They also learn about the anatomy of a bird and other fun facts.
To read a book, kids simply go on the Home screen of the app and select the one they want. Each book is like its own separate app. It has all the features you’d expect from a digital book, such as animation, interactivity, and sound effects.
There are also two different reading modes: Read to Me and Read Alone. The Read to Me mode comes with word highlighting to assist emerging readers, as well as the option to record your own narration for a more personalized approach.
As kids read, they can learn new vocabularies by tapping on any object in the scene. The app will show the name of the object in big, red type, and pronounce it. Kids can also tap on each word to hear it.
Parents Need to Know
The titles included in Outside Your Door provide fun and easy ways to learn about nature. There is a fair amount of scientific information given in the books, but they are told in ways that kids can easily understand.
I would say the books are better suited for grade schoolers, but the professional narration and word highlighting feature make the books accessible to a younger audience as well. Overall, I would recommend Outside Your Door kids ages 5–10.
For the curious parents, I would like to note that you can get each title separately on the App Store if you’d like. But, I would highly recommend getting this app as it is more economical (you get four books for the price of three), plus you get the convenience of having all titles in a single app.
Finally, the app has no in-app purchases. There are links to the developer’s other apps, but they are protected from kids by gesture-based locks. The downside to this method is that older kids who already know how to read can bypass it, so I would advise parents to have a talk with their kids about not wandering into the App Store on their own.
Things I Like
Outside Your Door has great educational value. There is a lot to learn from each book as they cover their individual topics in great details. For example, in I Can Name 50 Trees Today!, kids get to learn the names of 50 different trees, the anatomy of a tree, and how trees grow. Even more impressive, the books cleverly convey these educational information in catchy rhymes.
Throughout the story, there are many pictures and charts to help kids visualize the information given. For example, in Oh Say Can You Seed?, the app includes a chart that shows the parts of a flower. In Fine Feathered Friends, kids are treated to pictures of various exotic birds, including the spoonbill and the bald eagle.
Finally, the app also has excellent reading options. The narration is professional, but I like that you have the option to turn it off or record your own narration. I also like that you can tap on words to hear it read, or on objects to see their names.
If I could suggest a feature, one thing that I wish to see is a special section that recaps the crucial information learned in the books.
Outside Your Door is available for iPhone/iPad.
App was provided for our honest review.
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