App Name: Beck and Bo
Recommended Age: 3-6
Description: Beck and Bo is a sandbox style game teaching cause and effect through a simple drag and drop interface. The graphics and visuals are beautifully designed and highly appealing to young children. Twelve different scenes are presented with the characters of Beck and Bo, and different objects are dropped from the sky, prompting users to drag and drop them into place. The scenes vary from familiar settings such as a playground or grocery store to more imaginative themes such as a safari or underwater. There is a narrator who provides the word to any object touched on the screen, and there is also a “scrapbook” of vocabulary words for each scene which users can access. Upon completion of each scene, children are rewarded with a star, music, and brief animation. Once the scene is completed, children can exit and select a new scene, or continue to play with the objects in the completed scene. The scenes can also be played over and over so there is no need for multiple user accounts.
Skills: creativity, imagination, storytelling, logic, problem-solving, vocabulary
Curriculum connections: Language Arts, Social Studies
My thoughts: I can see this being a great app for vocabulary building, particularly with ESL students. I also liked how there is the option to not only hear the word spoken but also view the written word in the “scrapbook” for each scene. I enjoyed how the app allows for both sequential completion of each scene and also open-ended play. Children will like the instant reward of seeing what happens as they interact with the scene as there is an immediate animation once an object is dragged and dropped. Many scenes offer application to real-world settings (bedtime, grocery shopping, playing at the park, etc.), and the graphics and animations are adorable.
Ideas for use: Although this app is likely best used by individual students, it could inspire conversation and discussion about what is taking place in each scene. With beginning writers, the scenes could provide writing prompts and children could begin to tell stories based on how they are interacting with the app, as well as how they are noticing the objects in each scene interact with one another. This app also does function well as an introduction to the iPad, as children would learn drag and drop skills effectively from using the app.