First up was the 4D+ Dinosaur Experience. My 4 year old, Sullivan, LOVES dinosaurs, so we just had to take a look at this pack!
It comes with a VR headset and a deck of augmented reality flashcards.
The app is free to download, you just input the code that comes with the cards to use it! The neat thing is that once you download the app and enter your code, the device does NOT need to be hooked up to wi-fi to work! This means that if you get some old iphones or android phones donated to your classroom, you can use them without having to log them into your school's wi-fi (I know that can be an issue at some schools!). I just downloaded the app at home on my old iphone and then used it offline at school! NOTE: you may have to remove protective cases. I have a large Otterbox case on my own iPhone and it was too big to fit into the headset, which is why I dug out my old iPhone.
You can also use the app and cards without the headset, if you have an Ipad or tablet. The advantage of going that route would be that students could share the device, thus allowing more than one child to have a turn at a time. I still love the headset for the immersion quality (Sully was hilarious to watch as he tried to reach out and "pet" the dinosaurs!) but in a classroom setting, the iPads might be a better option, simply because setting up and putting on the headset is really something an adult has to help with, whereas students should be able to manage the iPad app independently.
Here's Sullivan interacting with the iPad app. It really is as simple as opening the app and placing a card in front of the camera!
Next up we tried out the 4D+ Animal Alphabet Zoo:
Again, the pack comes with the headset and cards, but the neat thing is that you can purchase the cards separately as well, so if you buy one set, you can use the headset with different packs of cards! As you can see, Sullivan gave it a thumbs up!
What I LOVED about these cards is that not only do they show an animal for each letter, there are also interactive food cards. If you place the correct food card next to the animal, it will move to the food card and 'eat". Here's a video of the Queen Bee and flower cards.
So not only can you use these cards in your alphabet lessons - each card has a large uppercase letter on the back, as well as the animal picture, letter and animal name on the front - but you can also use them as a science lesson as you discuss the eating habits of different animals! As you can see in this next video, Sullivan knew that horses eat hay, but he didn't know that hay is dried grass!
These packs (along with another one for Space!) are available at Amazon (affiliate links provided above) and also at Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Brookstone and Staples. I have to say that the quality of the app is top notch - using the cards with the iPad was simple and fun for Sullivan. The headset was a bit trickier to use, and we had to adjust it to make sure it wasn't blurry. Its not a high-end VR headset, but it doesn't have a high-end price tag either! Sullivan liked it well enough, but complained that his eyes were tired after about 15 minutes of sustained use. I tried it myself (and of course my older kids had to try it out too!) and we all agreed that for limited use it was fine, but sustained use of the headset (15+ minutes) did start to cause eye strain. Luckily, using the iPad solves that issue and honestly, with pre-k and K students, I think their attention would wane faster than their eyes would strain, so it wouldn't be an issue.
Overall, I think these packs are a fun STEM addition to any classroom! Not only would they expose your students to new technology, the Animal Alphabet set can also reinforce letters/sounds while the Dinosaur set also shows the dinosaur bones, which could be a great lead in to a unit on Paleontology!
Retrak was kind enough to offer to sponsor a giveaway for THREE bundles! Just click to enter the giveaway on my Facebook page here.