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Review: ‘The Magic School Bus: Dinosaurs’ for iOS

Since the first “Magic School Bus” title was published in 1986, waves of elementary students have plunged into places, systems, and eras as wide-ranging as beehives, waterworks, and the Triassic period with the inimitable Ms. Frizzle and her intrepid students.

Dinosaurs is the second app produced that’s based on this popular series. In this  interview, a member of Scholastic’s media team talks about deciding on what features to include when developing an app.

Screen shot from 'The Magic School Bus: Dinosaurs' (Degen) Scholastic

Title: The Magic School Bus: Dinosaurs
Joanna Cole
: Bruce Degen
Scholastic Inc.
Developed by: Scholastic Interactive LLC
iOS, requires 4.2 or later
Magic School Bus

K-Gr 4–Based on Cole and Degen’s Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs (Scholastic, 1994), this app will delight budding paleontologists. The wacky Ms. Frizzle and her curious yet apprehensive students attempt to travel back in time to the late Cretaceous period,  specifically, the time of the duck-billed Maiasaura. However, when their “time machine,” (e.g. their dilapidated school bus), experiences engine trouble, “the Frizz” and her students land in the Triassic period, millions of years before Maiasaura roamed the planet. Traveling through the ages, students learn characteristics of creatures of each period, and share informational notes with viewers.

Fans of the “Magic School Bus” format won’t be disappointed with this application. Retaining key elements of the original work, kids are invited to interact with the story. Word highlighting with audio enhances the main text, while speech bubbles, signs, and student notes are read aloud when tapped. This narration feature can be turned off as desired.

Screen shot from 'The Magic School Bus: Dinosaurs' (Degen) Scholastic

In the “Dinosaurs Around the World” game viewers race against the clock, tapping like-pictured dinosaurs; clear instructions are provided. However, it is the simulation of hammering rock (tapping a finger) and brushing away dust (sliding a finger) as they dig for dinosaur bones that will have students returning again and again. Placing the uncovered fossils on skeletons allows participants to earn dinosaur cards.

Outdoor sounds, the beeping school bus horn, and true-to-character voices provide an authentic experience for students wanting to participate in this adventure. Additional apps from Scholastic are available for purchase within Magic School Bus: Dinosaurs.Tami Genry, Helena Intermediate School, Helena, AL