Gone are the days where the television was your child’s babysitter while you did what you needed to do around the house, or colouring books were all your children needed to keep them occupied while you had a nice, hopefully peaceful lunch out at a restaurant.
I guess we all have Steve Jobs and the gang at Apple to thank for the beginning of ‘Mobile Applications’ – a kind of software designed for Mobile Smartphones or tablet devices. While there is an App designed for almost any purpose, educational programs for kids is a guilt-free way of keeping your children entertained while they learn.
Before I downloaded The Koala Brothers, I had been around the Kids App Track. I had downloaded some fantastic Apps that were impressive enough to remain on my iPad, but also some extremely poor ones, both free and pricey. For a while there, I was all App’d out, with a storage warning popping up every few hours, so I did a clean out and since then, I’ve been pretty picky.
My daughter Sienna is 3 and I thought she would be the best person to test drive ‘The Koala Brothers’ App, based on the animated kids. Due to the fact that she is harbouring quite an obsession with Tinkerbell at the moment, other shows rarely get a look in and so she isn’t an avid viewer of the program. This meant we went into this trial quite unfamiliar with the characters.
The first thing that grabbed me was the Aussie Accent! How refreshing to hear the familiar twang after all the “diaper’s” and “crib’s” that my daughter has been subjected to with all the American word Apps I have downloaded. (I have since limited her usage of these after she started saying “Zeeebra” instead of “Zebra”).
It’s clear early on that the App is based on the characters of the show. “We are here to help- touch a picture to get started” is the opening line when you enter the App. The ‘helping’ involves numerous activities that assist your child through problem solving, counting, matching, reading, rhyming, colouring, finger-coordination, recognising shapes and more. Some of the activities can be completed by children as young as two, where they are asked to put the koalas into a plane, while others are challenging for perhaps a 4 or 5 year old, where they are asked to read certain words.
There is lots to do on this App - it’s a great tool for learning a variety of skills. Positive recognition is big here: “thanks for your help” and “good work” is used often (with that happy go lucky Aussie accent) and it made my daughter smile every time she achieved something. This encouraged her to “help” another character. At the end of every task, a little animation of the character you helped would play for you, as a reward for your hard work. Sienna smiled with such pride when she would see this at the end - she knew she had succeeded!
There is also a lovely little ‘tap as you go story’ that is narrated to you called “Ned’s Scary Night”, which is about Ned not being able to sleep at night because of unfamiliar noises. It highlights familiar “strange” noises that are often scary to a young child such as banging, tapping and knock-knocking, and once Ned’s awake, goes on a mission with the Koala Brothers to discover where each noise came from so he can sleep sound that night. Needless to say, the noises are explained, and Ned sleeps sound. It’s a lovely example of explaining exactly why things happen to your children, and once they understand, their fears are no longer.
Sienna and I absolutely loved this App and she using it as I write this. It can keep your child entertained for ages while learning or sharpening up on lots of different skills. Probably one of the most value for money Apps I have seen, and it’s definitely up there in terms of quality too.
And who doesn’t love an Aussie Accent?
The Koala Brothers App is based on the multi-award winning TV series shown on the ABC, based on an original concept by Australian born animation producer/director, David Johnson. It can be downloaded from the iTunes store for iPhone and iPad.