November 17, 2017

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Step into Native American Research: PebbleGo Next | Reference Online

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SLJ1503-RefOnline-GoPebbleCapstone databases are brimming with can’t-miss options and solid research opportunities, and Pebble GoNext’s new resource is no exception. With a heavy focus on Native American history (future modules will incorporate other topics), this is one database you and your patrons will want to look for.

PebbleGo Next

Grade 1-5

Overview The latest module of Pebble GoNext’s social studies resource emphasizes Native American history and culture, offering young researchers a multimedia immersion into tribal life in the United States and Canada. Activities such as word scrambles, word-and-picture-matching games and photo jigsaw puzzles, help build knowledge about topics that include presidents, state capitals, and famous Native Americans.
Visual Appeal and Usability The home page features a North American map in muted gray, beige, and blue. When users click the different states, tribes’ current and traditional locations become visible. The map also highlights regions that include the Great Basin, Subarctic, and Southeast. More clicks, and students learn the names of tribes in these regions and locate articles about family life, government, and beliefs. Brief videos offer elegant examples of traditional music and dynamic visuals of ceremonial clothing, homes, and artifacts. The interactive map is functional and easy to navigate, no small feat for such a complex, multifaceted resource. The games and puzzles work flawlessly, too.
The game designs are just complex enough to make them fun but not so complicated that they become difficult to use. The “State Capital Quick Match,” “Matching Flags and States,” and “State Landmarks Zoom” all require speed and dexterity. Fast-paced and featuring tons of vibrant images, these games are sure to thrill users. The more static map isn’t quite as snazzy, but both are valuable resources, in appearance and functionality.
Closer Look at Content The brief, encyclopedia–style articles on each tribe are clear and well written. They are broken down into short segments, such as “Government” and “Family Life,” which will aid beginning researchers. Compelling vintage photographs and illustrations depict current Native Americans and events that go as far back as 1704. Each article has a read-aloud feature, with words highlighted as they are spoken. Smaller maps (in contrast with the large one on the home page) present different visualizations of tribes’ present vs. historical locations, offering students additional paths to understanding. As a whole, the resource is extremely rich, and so easy to navigate that students will require little technological assistance.
A clickable sidebar with the question “Native American vs. Indian” provides an informative explanation of correct terminology. The games are especially strong in visual content. State Landmark Zoom includes images students are unlikely to see in most classroom resources about states (for example, the totem poles from Ketchikan, Alaska and the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii are not as common landmarks as the Grand Canyon). The high-resolution images are bright and powerful.
All of the word scrambles offer the opportunity to strengthen one’s knowledge of presidents and other famous Americans, with a game just for famous Native Americans. Students will build vocabulary, understanding, and visual recognition through these inventive activities.
Teacher Resources All of the articles about tribes include one critical-thinking question, which can be answered by reading the resource. The question comes on a digital form students can type on, save, or print out and complete by hand. Each article is also accompanied by an automatic citation-generator, allowing students to choose between APA, MLA, and CMS style.

Verdict This resource depicts the vast diversity of Native American tribes through excellent articles and graphics, while the games are a playful reward after a session of multisensory exploration. This is a must-have resource for research in social studies and on Native Americans.


Jess deCourcy Hinds, Bard H.S. Early College Queens

This article was published in School Library Journal's March 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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