What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Curious Playground is content-rich and easy to use for both young kids and parents. It comes preloaded with seven game categories and can support up to three user accounts. Kids or parents also can create their own games that they can play themselves or share with others who have the free app. The paid version of the app includes in-app purchase options to unlock everything at once or to get additional music. The free version of the app includes dozens of activities, but additional content can be purchased. The buy link isn't blatantly dangled in front of kids while they're playing, though, and the button has to be held for three seconds to open the link.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- letter or word recognition
- improvising and music analysis
Thinking & Reasoning
- solving puzzles
- combining knowledge
- producing new content
- academic development
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
Activities are pretty simple and not too engaging on their own -- basically, they're game-like quizzes. Creating and sharing their own content is what will keep kids highly engaged.
Kids are empowered to create their own challenges, and the existing activities can give them some ideas of where to start. The challenge level of each activity adapts as kids complete activities.
Up to three users can track performance on one device, but no evaluative feedback of specific performance or skills is tracked. Learning can be extended almost endlessly with the creation tool.
What's it about?
CURIOUS PLAYGROUND starts by asking the question, "Are you a player or a creator?" It's not intended to be a deeply philosophical question, and, with this customizable app, kids can be both player and creator. It's preloaded with more than a dozen puzzles, including famous art such as the Mona Lisa; five memory games; words from categories such as math, music, and the human body; math including fractions, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; geography, including capitals and countries; music with songs such as "Are You Sleeping?" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"; and a word search game. Kids and parents can create custom activities using their own photos, words, or songs as well.
Is it any good?
Although the content covers a broad range of information (flags from different countries, geography, multiple levels of math, music, art, and words), the activities aren't as engaging as apps that focus on one skill. Each activity is basically a mini-quiz, and kids earn trophy cups for completing activities. There's nothing too exciting about the cups -- just a number on the screen.
What will engage kids is the creation tool with which they can design their own activities to complete themselves or share with others. They can create their own puzzles or memory games using the device's camera (it won't pull already-taken pictures from the camera roll, though), write their own songs, and enter their own words. The developer's target age range is 3 to 7, but the challenge on some activities spans higher -- math includes division up to four digits, for example. The activities automatically level up after kids successfully complete a level, but kids or parents can adjust the level manually, too, for kids who want to start at a more challenging level. The options for content are pretty limitless with the creation tool, making Curious Playground a good choice.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what kinds of activities kids would like to create on the app. The ability to create your own challenges is empowering!
Create a custom word game using your child's name, street name, and city to help preschoolers learn to spell their names and addresses.
Make word games from spelling lists for elementary school-age kids.