Dr. Panda School

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Dr. Panda School App Poster Image
Open-ended, creative play rules in this virtual school.

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The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about creative and pretend play. As they try out different characters and role-play, they'll practice taking on different roles and personalities and experiment with actions and consequences in ways they may not feel ready to do in real life. Since kids are in charge, they can feel a sense of empowerment as they decide what happens and who does what at their virtual school. Dr. Panda School gives kids a template for creative and imaginative pretend play.

Ease of Play

Kids should easily jump right in as they tap around the school, though some may be confused by the lack of direction.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

An icon on the home page takes users to a list of additional apps from the same developer; a parent gate blocks purchase. The icon can be turned off in the parents' section.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dr. Panda School is like a virtual dollhouse set in a school. Play is entirely freestyle: There are no rules, guidelines, time limits, or points to accrue. Kids spend their time moving characters and props around as they imagine scenarios and stories. With this open-play setup, parents may have to actively help kids find the appropriate time to put the screen down. A reset button on the home page moves everything back to its default position, and in the parents' section, adults can turn off the background music, sound effects, and the additional apps advertisement. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your information is collected and shared.

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What's it about?

The school bus has arrived at DR. PANDA SCHOOL! Enter the building and choose which characters to play with and where to take them. The classroom, cafeteria, art room, yard, and hallway each has its own set of props, objects, and minimally interactive features for kids to explore. Kids move objects and characters around and discover what all the props do as they role-play and imagine.

Is it any good?

This sweet school setting gives kids a decent backdrop to inspire their imaginations. The graphics, props, and silly animal characters are generally appropriate for young kids, though some parents might wonder why there are TV screens in the hallway and cafeteria. Being able to interact a bit more with the objects would enhance the experience; for instance, how about being able to actually open a book to read it or create a drawing in it? It would also be nice for kids to be able to document their stories in some way, such as by taking photos, making videos, or creating drawings. And, while open-ended creative play is golden for kids, the question remains whether the digital setting really is the best way for kids to engage in pretend play. Though there's a decent set of material here to give kids a wide set of possibilities, they are still limited to what the game designers have programmed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen use and your rules about using screens in balance with other activities.

  • Discuss what kids imagine as they move and play around the school. Encourage them to tell stories about the characters and what they're doing.

  • Talk to kids about their own school experiences. How is this school the same or different? What do they do in school that they like or don't like? If kids haven't started school yet, ask them what they imagine it will be like to go to school.

  • Encourage kids to use their imaginations and create stories using paper and crayons, puppets, dolls, or other props. Play right along with them or be the audience as you listen to what they come up with.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Skills: Creativity: imagination
  • Price: $2.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Release date: April 7, 2016
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 66.10 MB
  • Publisher: Dr. Panda Ltd
  • Version: 1.0
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.0 or later; Android 4.0 and up
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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