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Review: Carlton Books Augmented Reality (AR) for Classroom

Although we are not quite at the stage where teachers can click a switch and hologram versions of dinosaurs, or Earth can appear in the middle of the classroom just yet. ( one day maybe) We are at the stage where we can put them in the classroom through a screen. Virtual, Reality, Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality all hold exciting, but as yet unrealised, prospects for education. I am writing a post on some of the better apps out there, but as i use a lot of these books i thought it might be of use to explain why.

Although the links to take you to Amazon its not a sales pitch, the books are great for students, especially visual learners, to picture sometimes difficult concepts and subjects.

If you use anything like this in your classroom please leave a comment below, I am always interested in seeing more!

Extinct Animals AR

Clearly Carlton books knew they were on to a winner with these and produced a book of post – dinosaur animals as well. I actually think this is a great idea, there is so much information for children about dinosaurs but considerably less about what came next, admittedly quite a few million years after. So taking control of a Sabre Tooth cat or a Woolly Mammoth is something of a rarity in any classroom. It also is good as an informational text as it is written for children, although again in my ESL classroom it is a little beyond them so some adaptation needs to be made. Since the Ice age cartoons these animals have entered the imagination a little more and this is a good way to reinforce that with fact rather than Pixar animations. (As good as they are) They is also a Giant Ape in the book if you wish to try to recreate those old King Kong movies!

As much as I do gush about these books, especially with the motivation they give to children, i will be honest, these are high quality but they do look fairly similar to some of the animals they have already released in previous books. Now i do make apps and know that a reskin of designs is fine, however i think they could have made a little more effort with these at least with the actions or maybe an information page in app or similar, still for 14 USD it is a good deal and as much as you would pay for any other book like this without the AR aspect.

Micro Monsters AR

THis is a great one, All those horrible looking things that live in our beds or under the sofa or even in our eyelashes that usually we can’t see are now made thousands of times bigger and able to crawl around our living rooms and classrooms. I have some mini Micro scopes in class and run a lesson on what small things look like when they are made bigger so this book fits in perfectly with that. It also offers an opportunity to introduce students to the the Tardigrade, they are in the Marvel movie Antman as well btw, and are the strongest, hardiest living things we know! they can survive in space, in the depths of the ocean, almost anywhere in fact. I use it to show them that small as something may be it can still teach us alot! Just not how to win beauty pageants.

Bugs Augmented Reality

Bugs is not for everyone’s taste. the book has loads of information about habitats, diet and life-cycles but in a junior classroom full of 8 year olds the sight of a spider walking across their desk and up their arm is not what they expected when they walked into school that morning. To calm them down the book does contain less scary insects like butterflies and beetles though.

The Augments insects are really well done, and controllable by the reader through the free companion app. I use this when reading an insect book and allow them to choose an insect they would like to see more closely. The insects can also be made bigger and smaller. Then, even the butterfly, looks a little scary when its the size of you and flying around your head!

I Solar System and Deep Space Augmented Reality

I will talk about these two books together as, at least when i use them, they complement each other very well. The first I Solar book covers near space. So our nearest neighbours including the Inner and outer planets, you can drive the mars rover around the classroom, use the space elevator and visit a moon base ( we are still waiting for these in reality though!) and take a look at the dark side of the moon, without Pink Floyd unfortunately.

Deep Space travels further afield, and discusses galaxies, nebulae and black holes. The highlight being, in my lessons anyway, being able to put a black hole in the middle of the classroom. It adds something to the lesson to be able to look at one while being told, or finding out for yourselves what these massive compressed stars are. ( we think!) Other experiences in the book include a speeded up zoom through the milky way, life cycles of stars and a close up look at the Hubble space telescope and what it does for astronomy.

If you are doing units of work on Space these fit in really really well, there are also apps that could be used as a companion to these books, they cover a little less than the books, but it means you can send the students home with the planets in their pocket!

Predators Augmented Reality

This title kinda explains its self, it allows readers to bring life size ( and bigger) animals into their classrooms and homes. Like most of the newer AR books in allows you to both Video and take photos of them in your home so you can get a picture with a lion without it trying to eat you. The animals inside include, lions, wolves, bears, eagles, rattlesnakes and a great white shark! Although there are plenty of books about animals there are not so many that let you come face to face with them and my students love this one. Similar to the Space themed books there are other free apps on the app stores that allow you to do this for free or cheaper than this book, so if you wanted to use those and send the students home with some animals that is entirely possible. The images in this book are better made, its commercial, but sometimes budget is a factor in classrooms.

Ocean Monsters AR

This was the first Augmented Reality book i bought quite a few years ago. I read books on oceans and ocean creatures with my students quite often and i was looking for a way to help them visualise these. This book fulfilled that. It is one of the older ones so could do with an upgrade visually at least, but it still works, and having a Great White or a Killer Whale swim around your classroom is a great experience. I also use the Ocean Rift VR experience in these lessons, so they can come face to face with these animals under the sea as well as in the classroom!

Dinosaurs AR – There are 4 in this collection.

Carlton have made four augmented reality dinosaur books in the last few years. I understand why, its an easy hit. Kids love dinosaurs, even big kids like me, and with the new Jurassic World movies being released every couple of years its the gift that keeps on giving.

There is something about dinosaurs that just captures students imaginations. I work in ESL and my students may not be able to say the word cat, but they can all say the word dinosaur in English, a lot of them can list of names of dinosaurs in English, something most of their teachers cant do! It is for this reason i use the subject in my English lessons. Dinosaur names are multi syllabic, full of phonics rules, and fun to say. So i often have competitions, asking students to try to learn the names, and break them down into sounds or number of syllables. The prize is to be able to take one of these books home for a week and play with it.

In reading lessons, apart from a slightly gimmicky use of VR, i use these books, and a collection of fossils i have acquired over the years, to show them how big, how many teeth, how they ate, how they moved and a why you can’t see them today ( yes i do talk about birds as well!) This just works, to sit next to a 6ft tall velociraptor or a 20 foot tall T-Rex is a lovely experience for both student and teacher and to hear the students sitting and trying to decode names is great for an English teacher.

These books have been around for a while, and the first two, Battling dinosaurs and IDinosaur are starting to show their age a little now, though perfectly usable they are not as good as the two Jurassic world ones pictured here. Well, not as good visually. The information about dinosaurs is better in the older books as they don’t have the Jurassic world franchise to market inside them, however i use these with other books to add the AR element to the lesson, so its not a huge issue for me. The have all the favourties in, though cheekily and they haven’t done it since, there was an upgrade that you had to buy in the Idinosaur app to get access to all the dinosaurs in the book. It was only a dollar, but still if you buy the book you don’t expect to have to pay for the dinosaurs inside it as well! To my knowledge they only did this once so i guess it wasn’t just me who felt this way. Some examples of the AR in the Jurassic world book below.

Battling Dinosaurs allows you to pick to dinosaurs and pit them against each other, its great on paper but to set it up in a classroom of kids is less great, so if you what it for home and your children it should be OK, if you want it for school i would think a little first and prehaps go for the newer Jurassic World books.

The two Jurassic World books are great visually, both have numerous augmented dinosaurs in them including favorites like, the raptors, the T-Rex, Triceratops and others so students can pick which dinosaur they would like to see really easily, with the added bonus of the Indominus Rex being added in the first book for a bit more fantasy.

These dinosaurs can be recorded and photographed so there is the opportunity of making a little classroom movie included as well. (I’m trying this at the moment) The Raptor Rescue book focuses more on Blue the velociraptor star of the second movie and allows you to train her to follow commands, I can see this being more developed in the next book,(there will always be a next book!) but its a nice addition in this one as well.

Which ever you go for, or if you go a little crazy and buy all four like i did, they will be a hit in your classroom. For the price of about 10 dollars i have found it a great investment. My school library even picked up a set after the students kept asking for them!

Iscience and the Brain AR

These two I haven’t used so much as i deal mainly with key stage 1 students. However, they are still borrowed fairly often from my English room. Science explores and teaches in AR, with options to play and to explore within the book and the App. This is the better of the two in my opinion and it offers science concepts and topics in a more accessible way. The brain is too specialized for the purposes i use these, but i may suit your students better than mine. Both are well made and well written, just a little high level for Junior levels.

Istorm AR

The last one i own is Istorm. Which i bought early on as well. It does more than weather, though of course it has that as well, it has volcanoes, earthquakes, tornado’s and more. It is useful if you are covering a general studies topic and want to show students the power of the Earth visually. It is also a little old, but it is the only AR book i have found that covers these subjects so it is still a useful addition to my collection.

Post by Marc of Making English Fun

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

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I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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