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Grzimek's Animal Life

By Sally Finley - Posted Nov 1, 2009
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Overall Rating:5 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Gale Cengage Learning, 27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331. Phone: (800) 877-4253; internet:  

Price: $495—Individual K–12 schools. A volume pricing discount is offered.

Audience: Grades K–12+.

Format: Internet-based: text, audio, maps, video, photographs.

Minimum System Requirements: A computer with internet access and a web browser. Compatible browsers include Internet Explorer 6 to 7, Firefox 2 to 3, Safari 3, and Opera 9. The database provides links to the latest browser downloads.

Description: Grzimek’s Animal Life is an online animal reference database featuring more than 4,000 species and 12,000 photos, illustrations, and maps. The site also provides access to user, educator, and expert communities.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: The browser-based access is provided through a user log­in and password. It was easy to gain access. Installation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: This online edition of Grzimek’s Animal Life is a digital version of the original hardbound 17-volume encyclopedia. The content includes the original 9,000-plus pages of peer-reviewed articles and photos, as well as video materials, web tools such as RSS feeds and social network sharing, real-time news, and links to editor-selected websites and other reference sources.

Information is presented in the categories of amphibians, birds, fish, insects, invertebrates, mammals, and reptiles. The section on each animal includes information on physical characteristics, distribution, habitat, behavior, feeding ecology and diet, reproductive biology, conservation status, and significance to humans. The content is correlated to the national science curriculum.

Interactive range maps show the distribution of each species and link to Google maps. A Quick Facts section gives easy access to key information. The ReadSpeaker feature converts on-screen text to speech.

An Essential Reference Guide focuses on the classification of each species in the animal kingdom. The Search Assist feature provides information using both the common and scientific names.

Video clips on each animal are provided. The videos present an interesting picture of the animal in its natural habitat. These videos can be viewed in full-screen mode for use as a whole class experience. The films are attractive and enjoyable to view.

Web links point to additional information on the researched animal. Web tools allow the user to print, email, or download content and create citations.

Classroom Applications: Teachers can use the information from this resource in a variety of ways. Some specific ideas for classroom projects include the following:

Be an Expert: Each student can select one animal and use the database to learn everything he or she can about this animal. They can choose a project to demonstrate the knowledge gained from the research. These projects could include creating a webquest, a computer presentation, skit or drama, podcast, documentary, poster display, diorama, or shadow play.

Where in the World: As students learn about the countries of the world, they can place a pin with an animal’s name or picture in each location where this animal can be found.

Design a Zoo: Students can place each studied animal in a habitat where they would flourish. The students could design the habitat using art mediums such as watercolors, pastels, colored pencils, markers, or tempera paints.

A–Z: Students could create an alphabetical A–Z book about animals around the world or the animals specific to a selected area. Each child could take responsibility for one letter of the alphabet and make a page of information and pictures.

Quiz Show: The class could design a quiz show using student-generated questions and answers about the animals they have studied. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: The material is provided in a simple and user-friendly fashion, making the program easy to use. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Training materials are available via guided tours, tip sheets, navigation guides, and sample searches. Support is also offered by tools designed to increase usage such as widgets, ebooks, and links. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Grzimek’s Animal Life is a valuable resource that enables students to research information on animal species around the world.

My favorite feature is the connection to Google maps. With a single click, students can explore regions of the world where a particular animal lives. Each animal is featured in a series of photographs set in its natural habitat.

Each database entry includes comprehensive details including evolution, habitat, behavior, ontology, conservation status, and more. The information on the significance of an animal to humans is a unique and helpful feature. The ability to understand the importance of an animal to man is an important asset that promotes higher thinking levels and a deeper appreciation of man’s role in the preservation of animals.

The links to periodicals, real-time news, and websites create a full learning experience. The regularly updated information is an important aspect of this online animal reference site; students are provided with material that is current and accurate.

This is a great product that would be a wonderful addition to any school or community library. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Sally Finley, Educational Consultant.

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