I understand the appeal of websites and apps that bring a child’s favorite character to life, whether it’s Seuss or Dora or Yo Gabba Gabba. But sometimes it’s nice to find a world in which your kid can ascribe her own attributes and stories to the characters, because a TV animator hasn’t yet done it. That’s what I’m finding with this sweet British website for girls.
At first glance, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Love Luma’s Magic Belles
but my daughters took to it right away. Taking a cue from properties
like My Little Pony or Care Bears, each of the 6 fairy-like, musical
“belles” has a name and personality and an outfit to match: Star Belle,
Rainbow Belle, Cupcake Belle…you get it. It’s pretty much everything
our culture has taught a little girl to adore these days, but with a more positive spin than most.
What I like about it is the creative things you can do with the girls on
the site. Mostly it’s about making tinkly music with them (you may want to
encourage headphones if your kids have long attention spans). Plus you
can color them with a basic point and click kind of program, or play in
the paper doll-like dress-up area. There’s lots of room for imagination,
and no male characters to throw a love story wrench into the girlie fun.
I’d say preschoolers through about age 7 seems right for this one, depending on your child.
My favorite section (and also the quietest) is the Special Wonders
area, in which you can read to your children little quips about topics
that support the fairy’s personality. Star Belle talks about the
constellations, while Butterfly Belle’s book on “beautiful bugs”
suggests that bugs and butterflies are important to gardens, and asks
you to count how many you see when you’re outside.
My Little Pony never taught anyone the value of bugs, that I recall.
And hey, it might just lead your kid to want to explore the topics more; not to mention the ice cream cupcake recipe on the blog.
You’ll want to check out the free printables that your kids will probably like whether they know the characters or not, and there’s a companion Love Luma Etsy Shop,
which fortunately keeps your kids from making any “accidental” purchases on the main web page. If your kids want to take it on the road, there’s a companion
Magic Belles iPhone or iPad app with 7 mini games for $1.99, or a free lite version.
best part for me: This is a closed website, not a community. Meaning it’s
free, there’s no registration required, and no interaction with
anyone online. You can feel really good about letting letting your kids
go nuts without standing over their shoulders the whole time, and
they’ll appreciate it too.
One thing that made me laugh: As the backstory
goes, each of the Magic Belles come from a place called Bellevue. That
has a wayyyyy different meaning in the US. You might want to teach your
girls not to run around saying When I grow up, I want to live in Bellevue! -Liz
Find the Magic Belles website online. It’s free with no registration required. Magic Belles Lite app or the full Magic Belles iPhone or iPad app are available at the app store.