Finally... some alternatives to Epic Citadel - Deep Sea Diving with Year 3

Epic Citadel is and has been a must for most primary schools with access to iPads. The app allows children to navigate around a medieval kingdom, which can inspire children to write all sorts of different text types. The multi-sensory environment allows children to fully immerse themselves in this virtual world and inspires them to some fantastic writing. I have previously blogged about Epic Citadel - here.

The problem I have faced is finding alternative apps that allow children to immerse themselves in virtual worlds. I have used Myst and Castlerama, however, both are a similar style setting to Epic Citadel. The team behind Epic Citadel have recently released Zen Garden which is a step in the right direction -

However, there is a massive gap in the app market for more virtual world apps to be created. There doesn't need to be any sort of game element, just a world that children can navigate around and use as a stimulus for writing. Even if game developers simply stripped the characters and plot from a game leaving a virtual world to children to explore. That was until Google Cardboard was released!

I blogged about Google Cardboard about a month ago where I used a roller coaster app to inspire some writing with a Year 2 class, you can read the blog post here. At that point, there were very few apps on the iPhone as Google Cardboard was created with Android in mind. Since then, VR apps have been released on mass! Some apps allow you to just view the content with a VR headset; others have two modes, with or without the VR headset. It is these apps that lend themselves brilliantly to the iPad. 

I worked with a Year 3 class today and every child became deep sea divers! The app 'Sharks VR' has two modes: Play (which involves defending yourself against sharks,) or Dive (which lets you explore a reef and photograph the animals swimming around.) As I later realised, the app has a 12+ rating, due to the 'play' option of hunting sharks. PLEASE BE AWARE OF THIS IF YOU USE THE APP. I made it VERY clear to the class that they were only to go onto the 'dive' option. But I am sure you will agree, the virtual environment children can explore is incredible and well worth using. As soon as the children were exploring the reef they were hooked, taking pictures, talking about the different animals and writing down as much vocabulary as possible. I also passed around the Google Cardboard headset so the class could experience the full 3D virtual reality effect. 

The children then turned the vocabulary into descriptive sentences and narrated these over screenshots they had taken in the app using it as an editing tool but also a way to transform their writing into a digital story to be shared on our blog. Here are some of their efforts -

The potential to use this app in Literacy is massive! Creating Diving Diaries, non-chronological reports about the animals, writing in role as an animal or diver, looking at pollution and protecting sea life are just a few opportunities. 

I hope there are more and more apps like this being released! Some I have yet to use with classes are - Dino Park VR and VR Labyrinth with Dive City Rollercoaster being used in this blog post

Please do let me know if you use any of these ideas in class and please, if you do use any ideas from this blog, be courteous and credit where the initial inspiration came from. 

If you like this, why not have Mr P visit your school and share a wealth of ideas to improve teaching and learning using technology! More details here -


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