National Geographic and California Academy of Sciences

Seek by iNaturalist is a mobile app that helps kids and families identify plants and wildlife. All the user needs to do is take  photos of birds, bugs, animals, flowers, and bushes, and the app will  try to identify them based on information in their “app brain” and the identified location of the app user. While kids can earn badges for finding cool stuff in nature, that information is not shared in any other way. This is a citizen science app designed with the privacy and safety of children in mind. I absolutely adore the fact that this app encourages nature play, knowing that children should experience a minimum of one  hour of outdoor play daily!!

Considering the DAP factor, the information provided is an adult-child together activity but the actual physical navigation of the app is appropriate for ages 3 and up. The literacy skills needed to use this app independently are not within the range of most 3-6 year olds, with the range actually coming in at around the 3rd grade reading level, so this app is best used as a parent-child exploration and discussion opportunity.  This app provides a highly engaging way for parents to explore nature together, which is a giant win for parent-child connection, child (and adult) self-regulation, reducing anxiety, and increasing creativity. With a few simple conversation frames, even our 3-6 year old learners can have scientific conversations about their observations with their families!

If this app were used in the classroom, it would be best used in groups of 1-3 children at a time so that the adult could appropriately engage with the children to read and discuss the information.  This could also be done in situations such as “book buddies” following reading opportunities with nature-based books.

The  actual photo process is easy to navigate for young children, showing a large green camera on the front screen to start scanning and photo taking. The app could be improved by having audio buttons to hear information about the nature finds instead of just reading them. This is a free app and does not have distractions by ads.

Sentence frames to consider using with children as they utilize this app:

“I think this might be a ______________________, I notice it has ________________.”

“ I’m observing _________________________. I wonder if that means ___________.”

Similar App to Enjoy: Plum’s Photo Hunt by PBS Kids

Reviewed By: Dr. Lindsay Meeker