April 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

History in the Making | Touch and Go

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Kids Discover began the year with a promise to produce one app per month, each based on one of their thematic magazine issues devoted to topics from Galaxies and Space to Matter and Ancient Civilizations.The Constitution is reviewed here.

Con 1Kids Discover continues to engineer their award-winning print magazines into well-designed apps; The Constitution (iOS, $3.99; Gr 4-8) provides history aficionados with a thorough introduction to the idiosyncratic state politics leading up to the drafting of the that historic document. Also highlighted are the role of James Madison and his Virginia plan in instigating not only a revision of the Articles of Confederation, but a drafting of a new document. One of the outstanding interactive features of the app is an historical map of U.S. expansion. Upon tapping a year, the states fly onto the map, giving viewers an animated experience of the growing territories, underlying the need for a central government despite well-founded fears.

Interior image from 'The Constitution' (Kids Discover)

Interior image from ‘The Constitution’ (Kids Discover)

The app opens to a Table of Contents organized into visual quadrants. The content—a mixture of a scrolling introductory text, live video, cartoon drawings, animation, sliding captions, question-and-answer flip-cards, and  a virtual tour (of the Supreme Court)—will keep young people engaged. Most of the information comes in paragraph-length chunks as captions to photographs, archival images, or well-rendered watercolors. The succinct descriptions of the amendments will be useful in the classroom, as will the discussion of ratification, judicial review, and the debate between originalists, and those who deem the document as “living,” flexible enough to respond to unforeseen social and technological changes. The recent refusal to hear a case regarding surveillance as unconstitutional is a timely example of judicial review. The humorous “Constitution Gone Crazy” game where viewers swipe selected words to fill in blanks in the Preamble until they get the correct term is like a multiple choice mad-lib game: “…In order to form a more smelly sock?!” and is not to be missed.  For more in-depth information, consider some of the free, text-heavy apps that cover aspects such as the Constitution and Federalist Papers (Multieducator Inc.; in-app purchases).— Sara Lissa Paulson, PS 347 – “47″ The American Sign Language & English Lower School

SLJ’s “Top 10 Apps of 2013” is now online.

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Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.