Pines to Vines is another award-winning installation in the Crack the Books series of interactive textbooks. Aimed at younger students but engaging and informative enough for learners of any age, Pines to Vines takes users on an interactive tour of forests around the world. From the boreal forests of northern North America to the lush rainforests of southern Australia, kids will learn about forest anatomy, the importance of forests as biomes, and the natural occurrences and human activities that threaten them. Complemented by an interactive global map of the Earth’s forests and tests and quizzes on the material presented, Pines to Vines is comprised of 6 chapters and packed with videos, photos, sounds, and interactive diagrams that help make learning about forests fun and memorable. With the ability to set text to five different reading levels and the inclusion of in-text definitions of larger words and advanced terminology, Pines to Vines is accessible and enjoyable for kids aged 6 and older.
Pines to Vines is written in a conversational way that considers and encourages the reader’s thoughts and opinions. This kind of question-and-answer can teach kids to ask themselves questions and think more critically, developing their metacognitive abilities and helping them become better problem-solvers. Sometimes a chapter turns into a virtual classroom, with the prompts to look at maps and images calling on the user to help herself learn. Users are often asked to employ their imaginations in addition to the visual aids in order to explore the forest and visualize real world facts and concepts. In Chapter 6, “Threats to Our Forest,” readers are not only introduced to the natural phenomena that affect the world’s forests, but to the ways people impact them as well. Kids will exercise a different kind of self-awareness when picturing themselves in relation to the forests, their contents, their importance to other ecosystems, and the role humans play in their past, present, and future.
Working memory is a skill integral to learning, and it can be exercised simply by reading. Readers use working memory to recall what came before and connect it to new information in the text in order to understand what they are reading and come away with new knowledge. Not only does Pines to Vines engage readers on a spectrum of ability with concise sentences and step-by-step illustrations and notes, it constantly checks in with the reader and challenges them to visualize what they are reading and remember what they have read. Pines to Vines is written as though users are on an actual tour of Earth’s forests, and as such, readers are expected to recall where they have "been" and what they have seen (and “felt” and heard), be it in an earlier paragraph or entire chapters ago. The included quizzes put working memory to the test, helping kids build their reading comprehension.
The beauty of an interactive textbook like Pines to Vines is the ability to set the app to the appropriate reading level for a particular child, from simplistic to advanced, and adjust text size accordingly. Even if a child is reading at a level slightly above their ability, the inclusion of interactive visuals and linked definitions of words and terms can help them over minor reading obstacles. Pines to Vines even has a captioning options for their videos, making the app more accessible to the hearing impaired and useful for boosting reading skills for all children. This multimedia approach helps reinforce in-text information, and the chapter tests (which can be read by the app to the user) can help assess how much of this information a child has absorbed. Additionally, Pines to Vines has bookmarking capability for numerous users, allowing multiple readers per household to enjoy the book at their own pace and ability.
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