PlaySquare iPad app by PlaySquare LLC is a very different kids app which is described in the AppStore as "Touchable Television that lets you play right in the story world". I am always on the lookout for something a bit different when it comes to apps and this definitely is, it is engaging, interactive and educational teaching letters and words in a fun and clever way. The story takes place in Word World and in this the first episode it is Dog's birthday and all the animals are planning a surprise party for him. Everything in Word World is made out of words from Dog, the Barn to Cake. The graphics and animation are outstanding, the music and narration are fun and the design is kids friendly and intuitive with a story that children will love being part of. It is aimed at kids aged 3-6 years.
When you load the app you will see a play square on screen which you use your finger to trace around to start the story. You are then transported to Word World where you meet a host of animals from a pig, a sheep, a dog and a frog all cleverly made out of the letters that spell their name, but it is not just the animals that are made out of letters: the slide, the cave and the barn are too which is such a fantastic way of teaching word recognition to young kids. Throughout the app you help the animals complete various tasks to get ready for Dog's birthday by completing puzzles, searching for letters and moving objects about. Once you complete a task you have to trace around a play square to get to the next part of the story. The app is not just a fun story for your child to become immersed in but while playing the app they will be learning from start to finish, developing basic literary skills which include word and letter recognition, letter sounds and word building in addition to improving eye hand co-ordination and fine motor skills.
This app was instantly a hit with Ben who loved all the animals and really enjoyed the tasks such as helping dog dig up the letters of the word "HAT" and then squeeze the letters together to turn them into a birthday hat for Dog to wear. It was clear that he thoroughly enjoyed playing the app which may in some way be measured by the amount that he laughed while playing it, especially during the task where Frog went to Pig's barn to get the birthday cake and Pig couldn't resist eating the first cake before Dog could have it. Throughout the story he was always eager to progress on to the next part to see what would happen so it is definitely safe to say he was totally engaged from start to finish and has done so many times since. I was impressed with the design and concept behind this app, it is developed by a team of media experts from Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop, LeapFrog, and
MIT who definitely achieved what they set out to do by developing an app which makes kids' TV "an active engagement, where they don’t even realize they’re
learning while they play".
PlaySquare is available to download from the AppStore and is compatible with the iPad. It is free now for a limited time so my advice is to download it immediately. Your child will love playing it and will not only have fun doing so but learn lots too.
|The animals planning Dog's surprise birthday party|
|Trace around the Play Square|
|Find and drag all the animals to their places to complete the puzzle|
|Dog's Party Hat|
|Pig can't resist the cake - the source of much laughter for Ben|