Subscribe to SLJ
Touch and Go
Inside Touch and Go

Review: Encyclopaedia Britannica’s ‘Snakes’ for iOS

If you’ve never seen a cobra spit or a sidewinder slither, you might want to take a look at the fascinating video footage in this app.

In addition to Snakes, Encyclopaedia Britannica Kids has produced eight nonfiction apps for ages 8-12, including Ancient Egypt, Volcanoes, and Solar System. Today’s review will be followed by one of Britannica’s  Knights and Castles next week.

Title: Snakes
Series: Britannica Kids
Produced by: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
Developed by: Concentric Sky
Content Selection by: White-Thomson Publishing Ltd
Platform: iPad, iPhone, requires iOS 3.0 or later
Price: $4.99

Gr 4-8-Animals are a popular research topic with students and this app, with its vivid, close-up photography highlighting the coloring and markings of snakes from around the world, is a worthy resource.

On opening the app, a table of contents on the left of the screen lists eight subject categories ranging from “The World of Snakes” and “Physical Features” to “Feeding Habits” and “Life Cycle.” The text of the selected topic (generally 5 to 9 paragraphs in length) appears on the right, but it can be expanded to full-screen size by touching a button located at the top of the page. Throughout the production, unfamiliar vocabulary is highlighted; definitions can be accessed by touching the words in question. After reading and exploring the content, students may take a timed, 10-question quiz.

Many paragraphs begin with a thumbnail-size photograph, which when tapped, enlarges and displays an informative caption. A photo gallery is also available. Children’s understanding of these fascinating reptiles will be enhanced by the videos of a snake shedding its skin, a cobra spitting, and a rat snake laying eggs, among others. Not all the videos are narrated, but those that aren’t contain appropriate, ambient sounds.

An alphabetical listing of snakes provides a few paragraphs of information and images of 16 snakes (a listing of snakes by biome would also have been helpful). A map of the world pinpoints the location of only nine of the featured reptiles. Activities such as a memory game and jigsaw puzzles are included, but aren’t integral as they do not add information. A “Shop” button offers an opportunity to purchase other Britannica Kids products. Choose this student-friendly app for its written content, photos, and videos.–Nancy Stearns, Berlin Intermediate School, Berlin, MD