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Geography lessons aren’t always the easiest subject to sit through in school, but for younger learners seeking a more interactive hands-on way to explore and absorb important knowledge about the world around them, Barefoot World Atlas is a delightful, information-rich resource for the iPad that proves learning can be a lot of fun.
Based on the print edition of the popular children's atlas, this colorful app presents you with a beautiful 3D globe dotted with tons of little storybook-style illustrations, which serve as selectable icons for each key element on the map. The world can be spun in any direction with a simple swipe, and zooming in for a closer look at a region reveals greater detail and additional interactive icons of people, buildings, animals, places, and many other geography-specific points of interest.
Viewed from afar, the clever animations help draw the eye in to different regions of the map, piquing curiosity and directing exploration intuitively. Tapping on an icon zooms in further and brings up descriptive factoids written by BBC geographer and broadcaster Nick Crane. You can touch the text to have it narrated by Crane in his pleasant British accent, and subjects are often accompanied by a real photograph for reference. Some even have interactive models than can be spun around and viewed at different angles.
The charming, vibrant interface encourages freeform learning as you flit from one icon to the next to suit your fancy, though a few features allow for greater structure too. Any icon can be flagged to your favorites list for easy reference, and selecting regions or countries lets you learn more about their climate, natural resources, native peoples, indigenous animals, and modes of transportation.
The bottom line. Barefoot World Atlas takes an upbeat and intuitive approach to education kids about geography that’s far from stuffy. It's an accessible, wonderfully designed app.
iPad running iOS 5.0 or later
Intuitive touch interface. Presents info in a fun way. Lots of different topics.
Some countries and regions are more sparsely populated with icons than others.