I don’t often sit with my kids while they’re on their tablets, mostly because their limited screen time is during my limited time to get dinner ready. Also, I’ve had enough Angry Birds to last me a while. But today I sat down with my four-year-old and we played around with the simple puzzles in two educational apps for preschoolers from designer Jennifer Skupin out of Amsterdam. The Bop Underwater app and Bop Collects Clouds app for iOS were each challenging enough to keep him interested–and yet simple enough to keep him interested too.
First, let’s talk about the way these apps for preschoolers look. The designers created the art by scanning fabric and cutting it into the shapes used on the screen. An octopus has tentacles covered in button-suckers. He shoots out batik ink when he’s happy. It’s really lovely, and I love the tactile aspect the designers have brought to a techy experience.
As with another favorite app, The Human Body by TinyBop (no relation), this is all about unguided exploration. I love that each of the twelve scenes in these apps are wordless, so your kids have to figure out on their own what to do with the elements on the screen. It took me a minute to get the point of the first scene, but sure enough, my preschooler immediately dragged the pink chevron down to overlay the same shape on the black-and-gray submarine.
If you do get stumped, a ladybug wanders across the screen and indicates which object you can activate. But try and keep those anxious little fingers off the screen until she’s finished, or the ladybug scurries off.
These aren’t the kinds of games your kids are going to get sucked into like Minecraft (which is not for preschoolers anyway), but you really get your money’s worth. After about thirty minutes spent completing all these puzzles, my son said, “Mommy, this is really fun.” With him sitting in my lap and brainstorming with me all that time, I have to say I agree.