Article: Role play – kids apps to help kids process a new situation with play

Article: Role play – kids apps to help kids process a new situation with play

Kids learn best through play and explaining what they are seeing and doing. Recently, every time I turn on the television news or tune in to the local radio, I am prompted things that I know I do not want my child to see or things that I might consider to be scary for them.  Research has shown that children learn best through play — and playing out situations via role play can help them to better process and understand them.  With the recent Hurricane Harvey here in the United States – there has been a lot of news on the television and radio that is overwhelming.  As such, I started thinking about some of my favorite apps that would help kids in these situations. Helping children process traumatic events they seen in the news such as the recent Hurricane Harvey and other frightening news, can be overwhelming.  Many children learn better with play therapy.  Below are a few apps that involve role play, social stories and more to help them process difficult situations as well as explore new situations.   Below is a list of some of my favorites.

Kids learn differently than adults.  Introducing a new situation can be hard.  One of the biggest things I struggle with as a parent is helping my kids understand a new situation.  Helping my kids prepare for new experiences can be overwhelming as.    One of my favorite thing about the MyPlayhome apps is that there are no rules – kids can play and role play while narrating what they are doing.  I love to see all the different games that my toddler comes up with or see my son talking about an upcoming doctors appointment using MyPlayhome Hospital.  Using Social Stories like Kid in the Storybook maker can help kids better understand a new situation.  Dr. Panda has a series of role play apps including firefighters, daycare, school bus and more.  .

My PlayHomeShimon Young is a genius. Shimon is the developer of the universal My PlayHome app and has managed to find a way to keep my iToddler (2.5) entertained for more than just a few minutes. Not an easy task. My PlayHome brings the dollhouse into the digital age by offering an entire virtual home, complete with an adorable family of five that kids can explore and interact with. Also available on the iPhone (Pocket PlayHome!), this app features beautiful hand-drawn illustrations and realistic sounds associated with each interaction. My PlayHome also has a simple user interface very easy for little fingers to control.  This app caters for 2-8 year olds which is appropriate as it’s simple enough for the younger users to play with yet detailed enough to keep the older kids entertained too.” Quite a comprehensive app but still very easy to use by its intended audience. One of the best kids apps I have come across on the App Store!”  This continues to be a top pick of The iMums for kids of all ages.  Read the full review.

 

My PlayHome StoresWhen iMum Amanda reviewed the original My PlayHome back in 2011 she described it’s creator Shimon Young as a genius, and I have to agree. After being  installed on our iPads for 2 1/2 years my kids still play with My PlayHome regularly, and there are very few apps that retain their appeal long term like that. So when I told my children there was a new My PlayHome app out, to say they were excited is a definite understatement.  My PlayHome brings the dolls house into the digital age with an entire interactive house and garden to play in, and My PlayHome Stores expands the play by adding four shops to explore and shop in. The app stars the same characters as the original app – there are 3 moms, 3 dads, 3 girls, 3 boys and 3 babies from a variety of ethnicities and you can mix and match them any way you like to create the family in the app. The twist that my children really love (and that I have not seen in any other app) is when the family go shopping in the stores they can walk home with their purchases, and if you own My PlayHome they can take their purchases from the stores back to their home.  Read the full review.

My PlayHome HospitalIn the fantastic tradition of the Playhome Software Company, comes the latest My Playhome app, My Playhome Hospital. Fully integrated with the other My Playhome apps (HomeSchool and Store), this new app allows the player to explore all aspects of the hospital experience. When the app is opened, the child is faced with the view of the hospital and an ambulance. No settings tab, no external options, and no parental tab. The only extra button to press is the Tidy the Hospital wheel, which is a great option. It allows the player to actually erase the previous designs created and start fresh. The home page ambulance can be driven to the school, home or store; linking the other apps (one of my favorite features).  An interactive app that familiarizes children with the workings and people in the hospital setting. Multiple different scenes with many opportunities to interact with the objects and characters on each page.

 

My PlayHome SchoolOne of the best loved toys of all time are doll houses. It brings hours upon hours of enjoyment to boys and girls alike, and it’s only limitation is a child’s imagination. My PlayHome Software Ltd has brought this enjoyment in the most portable form possible in My PlayHome, My PlayHome Stores, and very recently, My PlayHome School.  While my children and I enjoyed My PlayHome and My PlayHome Stores, My PlayHome School far exceeded our expectations. It has almost everything you could find in an elementary school: a receptionist desk, the principal’s office, a cafeteria, boys and girls restrooms, a science lab, an auditorium, a janitor’s closet, lockers, and of course, classrooms.  Read the full review.

 

 

Explaining difficult situations to kids or helping them understand something new is the premise of  Kid in the Storybook maker.  This app allows you to take photos of an upcoming event — be it a doctors appointment, new school or even a vacation and use your own words, photos and voice to describe it to the reader.  I loved using Bluebee Pals with my son when we recently did a social story about his new school.

Kid in Story Book Maker:... iconEnuma, designs assistance and play-based learning apps to empower kids to be independent learners. they have a special interest in producing apps for children with special needs.  LocoMotive Labs is located in Berkeley, California and was founded in 2012, its design team includes many of the team who produced the Injini child development suite. Kid in Story was designed to help parents and therapists easily produce their own stories for children. As children with Autism often respond well to social stories that include them, they wanted to include a way to easily add the child into the story.  Read our full review.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
 Happy Daycare Stories – Playhouse game for preschool children and toddlers by PlayToddlers  – Review

Happy Daycare Stories – Playhouse game for preschool children and toddlers by PlayToddlers – Review



iPad Screenshot 2

What we love…

Adorable app perfect for children who enjoy free play and doing activities that relate to real life at daycare, preschool etc

What we’d love to see…

A few glitches with small items fixed as some items are hard to grab and move around

Summary

A very cute and colourful app full of surprises and stories to create

Our Rating

Happy Daycare Stories - Playhouse game for preschool children and toddlers, by PlayToddlersHappy Daycare Stories – Playhouse game for preschool children and toddlers is by developer Guillermo Gonzalez, creator of cute educational apps such as Animal Puzzle, Shapes Builder, Preschool kit and more.

Happy Daycare Stories is an adorable game for children 2 years and over where kids can run their own daycare! Kids can explore 7 different rooms with 5 cute characters always ready to interact and play with all the daycare toys. The aim of this app is to let children’s imagination go wild by letting them create their own daycare story, explore the daycare centre rooms with the characters and take care of their new little friends

This is another cute app that my daughter is enjoying at the moment, she loves playing with her ‘new friends’ especially serving them food, giving them a bath and putting them to bed. For some reason, she is obsessed with those three rooms at the moment! I think it’s a great way to reinforce routines in little ones’ lives and making every day tasks fun with the little characters.

iPad Screenshot 5

We love this app as there is so much to do in every room to keep the little ones busy, do some role playing and play with everything and anything in the daycare centre. It is very cute, colourful, lots of fun and has beautiful background music! Little ones can name, play with, feed, have their own band and do all sorts of fun things with their own characters. Kids can relate to this app whether they attend playgroups, daycare, playground or kindergarten. You can drag the characters around the rooms, bring them all in the same room or leave some in certain rooms.

The only thing that we would suggest changing is that sometimes the little toys or objects are hard to move around which can be tricky for little fingers.

There are no ads or in-app purchases in this app, the only extra windows are the More Apps window and the Settings window which are both Parent lock controlled.

Another cute app from developer Guillermo Gonzalez which lets kids have fun while letting their imagination run wild and in the case of this app, learning some social and role playing skills along the way and caring for some cute characters.



Happy Daycare Stories (Full) Happy Daycare Stories (Full) by PlayToddlers

Price: $2.99 USD

You are in charge of this daycare, a small and fully interactive world where everyone is welcomed and the only rule is to use your imagination to create amazing stories. Explore 7 different rooms, with.

Catherine is a mother of a little miss almost 3 years old. Originally from France she now lives in Melbourne, Australia. She loves to explore their beautiful city with her daughter and sharing their adventures with other parents. Catherine has a passion for social media, blogging, technology and food. Before the arrival of her daughter, Catherine was studying and working in the field of IT and still loves all things tech! She loves finding new apps for her daughter to learn and play with and share great apps with other parents.
 Camping With Grandpa by Fairlady Media – Review & Giveaway

Camping With Grandpa by Fairlady Media – Review & Giveaway



iPad Screenshot 2

What we love…

realistic camping app that encourages kids to leave no trace and provides a variety of mini games to play which reinforce real word like dousing a fire, finding an animal via tracks

What we’d love to see…

a game that includes the stars or evening sky, trail safety tips and ability to make vocabulary words harder or easier depending on the age of the child.

Summary

Fun app aimed at preschool and early grade school.  My Cub Scouts enjoyed using the app as we talked about a hiking trip and prepared for it.

Our Rating

Camping With Grandpa Camping with Grandpa from Fairlady Media is a universal app for iOS featuring Grandpa as he heads out on a camping trip.  There are a variety of activities that include object identification (find the xx tree), word searches (you pick out the words and highlight them with your finger), identify animal tracks from a field of four animals and after you have completed your activities for the day you earn a badge as well as setting up camp for the night.  This was the perfect app to share with my soon to be Cub Scout Camper as we used it to talk about what it was like to go camping and the items we would need to bring!

 

There are seven educational mini games which include

  • Read a compass – which way to go down the path
  • Hiking – find an object like a type of leaf or what type of tree
  • Animal food – what types of foods do the animals like
  • Animal Tracks – what shaped track do the animals make when they walk on the beach
  • Word find – can you find the forest words and highlight them with your finger
  • Tent Shadows – which pocket knife makes the shadow
  • Hiking Gear – which items should we pack in our backpack

I loved that the app encouraged “leave no trace” and to pick up your litter as well as having a variety of things you would actually do on a camping trip like finding a specific type of tree or learning how to read a compass to find the direction we were going in.  It also taught you about foods that animals ate as well as different animal tracks.  My son had fun looking at the tracks and trying to figure out which animal made which track.  We also talked about which objects should go in his bag when we go hiking.  He loved roasting the hot dog and marshmallow like we do at home some nights in the summer.  He also liked dousing the fire before Grandpa went to sleep at night.  The graphics are clear and realistic and the activities rotate in a different order so kids don’t get bored with the content.  My son also loved the different educational videos.  I liked that when you doused the fire every last bit had to be out – just like in real life.  It was a nice way to reinforce with my son that we can’t leave even a little bit alight.

In terms of enhancements – I would love to see an avatar to represent the child in this app.  My son was also sad a few times when he had finished some of the tasks and reopened the app and had to start over again – for us I just minimized the app rather than closing it so we could go back to it.  I’d also like to see some sort of star activity included like finding the big dipper or evening sky to learn or educate about how we used to use the stars to navigate.  It might also be fun to have a way to follow the trail with trail markers as well as some safety pieces included – i.e. if you get separated from your parents do this.  I also liked the vocabulary words – but some of them were hard for my first grader so perhaps a way to choose the types of words or complexity via a parental control would help to reduce frustration especially for younger readers.

Overall, this is a fun and realistic camping app suited for preschool and early grade school children.  I found it was a great way to prepare my Cub Scouts for their hiking badge and give them an idea of what to expect before we went.  This is a great real world type app that incorporates education about what we should and should not do when camping with some fun learning activities that encourages kids to explore the outdoors!


Camping With Grandpa
Camping With Grandpa
by Fairlady Media

Category: Education, Games, Family, Educational
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 105.58 MB

$2.99USD

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

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Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
Dr. Panda Firefighters by Dr. Panda Games – Review

Dr. Panda Firefighters by Dr. Panda Games – Review



iPad Screenshot 1

What we love…

graphics, step by step directions for getting the animals ready to fight the fire and of course spraying the water at the fire.

What we’d love to see…

better design for driving the firetruck, ability to put out the fire entirely before moving on to the next floor

Summary

Overall, fun app that takes an imaginary fire to the next level.  My son enjoyed narrating and playing with the app while completing each of the tasks.

Our Rating

Dr. Panda FirefightersDr. Panda Firefighters is a universal app for iOS that lets your child fight fires, drive a fire truck, clear obstacles, explore over 30 rooms and more.  This app is designed for toddler age and up and features Dr. Panda and his friends as they drive the firetruck to the scene of the fire, turn on the water and look around for flames to extinguish.  It reminded me very much of playing fire engines as a kid, except Dr Panda was able to physically make the rooms rather than me having to imagine them.  The app is great for toddler and preschoolers especially.  It can be used to practice following directions, expressive language to narrate what they are doing and following along with the animals to rescue them. There is also cause and effect of fighting the fire, handing over the tools and moving on to the next level.

The app opens in the firehouse where the firetruck is waiting to be cleaned.  As the alarm bell rings, the animals scurry to get dressed in their coats.   With that the firetruck leaves to go to the fire the fun begins.  First you get dressed, then you drive the truck to the scene and begin fighting the fire.  The firefighters ask for different tools like a shovel or axe to help move around the fire and get the animals out.  You use a crank to move the ladder up and down to move to each different level of the fire.  Currently the firefighters yell, “hey” or “help me” as they need different tools to fight the fire.  The tools include a shovel, axe and bucket of water.  Fires can occur in any of the buildings, my son enjoyed the office building and apartment complex the most.  For each “game” you go through several levels to fight the fire which involve things like rescuing animals, handing the firefighters tools and spraying water.  After each fire is completed, the “Dr Panda Daily” shows a completed photo of the animals safely outside the fire.  Quick tip, you can pick either the monkey or Dr. Panda by choosing where you hand the axe to when you start the app.

The graphics and animation are well done and I liked the step by step process of the animals getting ready, driving the truck to the scene and each member taking on a job.  My son liked that he could “fight” the fire with both water and rescue the other animals.  The graphics were bright and easy to see.   My son really liked spraying the water to put out the fire – which he thought was especially fun.  He liked getting the animals dressed and ready to head out to fight the fire.  My son liked narrating the app as we went along describing what he was doing like handing the axe to the monkey or “cooling down and putting out the fire”.  My son also wanted to “wash” the firetruck with the sponge but was sad that he couldn’t.

In terms of improvements, I’d like to see a better experience driving the firetruck.  Currently you twist the steering wheel to drive, but it feels clunky at best as you navigate the streets hurrying to get to the fire.  The truck drives itself, along the streets, something I’d like to see a child be able to do.  Perhaps a similar driving method could be used to the Dr Panda Bus Driver or Dr Panda  game.  I’d also like to see the ability to finish putting out the fire before you exit the building.  As you go to each floor, there is a task it might be rescuing someone, or hitting a hot spot of the fire.  Once that “task” is done the water shuts off and you move on to the next job.  That means that you might exit the fire with it still burning – which can be disappointing to some children. He wanted to be able to go back and finish putting out the fire. My son also asked if he could see the upstairs of the firehouse and things that firefighters do other than just putting out fires like “help people”.

Overall, this is a fun app that takes imaginary play of a fire station to real life.  There are things that I would change to improve the user experience, but the app has solid fundamentals and encourages speech and helping others.  I also used the app to encourage fire safety and talk about what we would do if a real fire happened at our house. It also helps with role playing as your child imagines themselves putting out the fire.

Dr. Panda Firefighters
Dr. Panda Firefighters
by Dr. Panda Ltd

Category: Education, Educational, Games, Family
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone3GS-iPhone-3GS, iPhone4-iPhone4, iPodTouchFourthGen-iPodTouchFourthGen, iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 219.94 MB

$2.99USD

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

 

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

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