Learning geography through play is possible with modern teaching and learning technologies - one of them is Shifus Orboot, an educational globe that, in combination with the appropriate app, ensures an augmented reality experience. The educational toys are aimed at children between the ages of four and ten years. The idea is simple: children should be able to get to know the world, at home, but more immersively than with a printed atlas.   


Geography is probably one of the least tangible subjects: one should learn interesting facts about the world without actually visiting the places. This demands a lot of creativity and intellectual power from children. The world tour takes place in the head. Pictures from atlases and films help to deepen the impressions. There are now also modern learning toys that can be used to add a haptic component to the teaching concept. One of these is the Orboot educational globe from toy manufacturer Shifu.

What can the Shifu Orboot do?

The Orboot is a child-friendly designed globe that, together with an app, becomes an AR learning toy. Yes, even without having activated the app, you can look at the world and read rudimentary information - such as which parts of the world live which animals - but with the software running, the Orboot shows its strengths. Shifu also links the virtual journey around the world with a small mix of accessories. The package includes a “passport” and stickers that children can use to document their circumnavigation of the world. This is not absolutely necessary, but this clever trick proves to be particularly motivating for young world explorers.

As a bonus, children receive a "passport" in which they can record their adventures with stickers. Photo: Volkmann

As a bonus, children receive a “passport” in which they can record their adventures with stickers. Photo: Volkmann

Unpack, set up, download the app: Then you can start learning about geography in a playful way. The app relies on augmented reality technology, which is increasingly being used: the smartphone or tablet shows the camera image and enriches it with information worth knowing, for example about world wonders. This is exactly where learning through play comes in: children can virtually drive around the world with their digital devices and go on a journey of discovery.

AR is still widely supported in the learning area, but such toys make use of a simple idea: They regularly provide aha-effects and thus motivate people to continue learning. Shifu supports this with the orboot by making countless information available. Again and again, children come across new details. Otherwise, the globe initially works like a globe: the globe can be rotated around the earth's axis, but degrees of longitude are not displayed on the spherical segment, but on the upper end of the axis bracket. You will also miss country or city names, because they are not directly on the Orboot.

Nice detail with a message: Children are shown as "world citizens" in the passport. Validity: "Forever". Photo: Volkmann

Nice detail with a message: children are shown in the passport as “citizens of the world”. Validity: “Forever”. Photo: Volkmann

It should now be clear: the globe is the playful part, the app does the learning. Basically, everything revolves around the app, which prepares knowledge in an appealing and child-friendly way. And: Basically there are even different apps that can be used with the educational globe. The focus is on the “Orboot Earth AR”, ideally installed on a tablet - it also works on a smartphone, but user-friendliness suffers, at least on older models with small displays.

The age specified in the app determines the level of difficulty, so that the educational toy can also be used for a longer period of time. Once everything is set, you can start learning or playing. Various programs are available for this: Children can freely explore the globe and go on a journey of discovery, a tour within the app is also possible, the globe is then not needed. This is also motivating, because children can collect successes for their discoveries and thus earn badges.

The images on the globe are designed to be suitable for children. Photo: Volkmann

The images on the globe are designed to be suitable for children. Photo: Volkmann

The secrets mode is no less exciting and interactive: It is about puzzle stories that have to be solved. The tasks drive the urge to explore, for example when it comes to finding and scanning certain landmarks. In this way, a story about the protagonist Shifu is gradually developed.

Finally, a quiz mode is available, with which knowledge can be deepened and consolidated. You choose your question area from different categories and then you have to come up with the correct answers using a multiple-choice procedure. By the way, simply guessing is not an option: an asterisk contingent limits the answer options. In the end, there are successes again - and thus motivation in a playful way. The best: It also works offline.

The AR view on the smartphone: Children on the globe mark the content with the star. Image: Volkmann

The AR view on the smartphone: Children on the globe mark the content with the star. Image: Volkmann

Alternatively, two other programs are available with the “Parent App” and the “Dino AR”. First is aimed at parents who can use it to track their children's progress. The dinosaur variant, which enables a journey back in time to the dinosaurs, is exciting for children themselves.

The world tour should be fun and interactive, this is how the manufacturer Shifu describes the idea behind his geography learning toy. And indeed: children are repeatedly encouraged to participate. If you discover exciting knowledge, you can have the app read the details to you - and answer a quiz question. This little detail is essential: it helps children remember and thus remember the information they have just obtained.

If you scan an area of ​​interest, pretty 3D images of animals, sights or local dishes appear. Image: Volkmann

If you scan an area of ​​interest, pretty 3D images of animals, sights or local dishes appear. Image: Volkmann

The concept of Shifu works: The entertaining presentation with pretty graphics and successful sound effects captivates children in front of the globe. They are not immediately aware that they learn a lot in the process over time. The pride is all the greater when you answer quiz questions and can check yourself and motivate yourself.

The quiz questions encourage you to take part again and again. Here you have to feed the elephant with the correct answer. Image: Volkmann

The quiz questions encourage you to take part again and again. Here you have to feed the elephant with the correct answer. Image: Volkmann

The Orboot is a kind of invitation to learn on your own, even if younger children in particular will need support here and there when using the app. This also applies to some information that is difficult for children to grasp: For example, area information. Paragraphs would be helpful here.

Overall, however, it shows the value of modern educational toys, which primarily encourage children to keep busy with a basic topic and many sub-topics. Instead of boring drumming, the use of the Shifu Orboot is about playful learning experiences that are far less mechanically memorized. And the concept is evolving: after the Dino app, the trip to Mars is already on the agenda. It's a dream of the future, but with the ambitious plans of pioneers like Elon Musk, it is only a matter of time before the first high-tech rocket will reach the red planet.


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Last updated on 4.08.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API