I love toddlers. I love gadgets. I love my iPhone/iPad. Put it all together? I love Toca Boca.
I got turned onto them from work actually. We are in the process of coming up with a mobile app for our product. We have the luxury of a)taking the time to find something unique for our current users and b) we all got ipads to explore. A lot of research actually ends up being fun. We have been talking about different apps and noting why they work so well. Quickly, we have discovered apps that small kids can understand without much instruction go a long way. Think about it. Angry birds? There isn’t a word of instruction and yet my 2 year old can understand the underlying story and what to do. A few of my coworkers who are interactive media developers stumbled upon Toca Boca. They first oooed and ahhed over their use of the native iOS abilities. Like how the street in the background of Hair Salon moves around depending on your angle of the iPad. But more importantly, their kids were infatuated with something so simple. They aren’t crazy complicated and really nothing super unique but they work so well. My big sell, they teach imagination skills.
The underlying mission of their toys (they don’t say games because they want it to be a learning tool) is simulating real life play to encourage learning. Recently they came out with Birthday Party. It also is co sponsored by Parenting.com. They have a small section explaining to parents how to use it as a teaching tool. Questions to ask the children at the party. How to encourage taking turns and manners. I really admire their work as a parent and then turn around and drool over it as a developer. It is perfectly executed media design. Intuitive, helpful, entertaining AND educational. I recently saw a clip from their president talking about their work and he pointed out they want to encourage sharing of a) a family device (iPad) and b) teach sharing as a role playing exercise. I just enjoy their take on this industry. They aren’t just making mindless games for kids to spend money on. They are making quality learning/entertainment apps for the younger audience. They have a few apps and never ads or ways to “trick” the kids into seeing something to buy. I mean how many times have I heard “uh oh mommy” when he has wound up online or in the app store from some link in an app? So annoying.
We currently have Hair Salon, Birthday Party, Paint My Wings, Doctor and Tea Party. Check them all out here. LT’s favorites are definitely the party ones. They are very similar in nature. Set up the tea party, host it and then clean up. He gets to pick the table cloth, plates, drinks, snacks and even the music. He loves for us to sit at the place settings and play along. We are interrupted once we finish out treats with “I got it!” for him to give us more. Kevin knocks over a tea cup and Landon is ready with the napkin to clean it up. It is adorable! He has always loved the pretend tea parties we have in the yard but this was like winning the lottery. We get home many evenings to “Tea Party?”. I actually even got him playing on camera recently and he has now learned the little company jingle 🙂 You can see how easy he can handle it…and I swear, we have shown him VERY little. He just knows how to do it. Brilliant!
*As with all Things I Love posts, no one has paid me for my opinions or the products! I just love these products/companies on my own. I like to share my opinions for all my readers to save them some time looking up the best :).