Grandma's Great Gourd

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Grandma's Great Gourd App Poster Image
Grandma is crafty guide for interactive story, activities.

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

Educational Value

Kids can cultivate a love of reading and practice their reading skills as they follow along with the narration or read on their own. By immersing themselves in fiction and enjoying the feeling of being taken away into someone else's world, kids can learn to appreciate the power of storytelling. Kids can also express their own creativity in the record section. The gourd game is designed to get kids thinking about physics and trajectory, but the concepts will probably be lost on most kids without adult guidance. Kids can also explore elements of Grandma's culture.

Ease of Play

Much of the navigation is easy, and tapping through the story is straightforward. Getting the levers to stop where you want them in the "roll" game may be a bit of a challenge.

Violence & Scariness

The wild animals threaten to eat Grandma, but there's no actual violence shown.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Grandma's Great Gourd combines a digital storybook about a clever grandma with activities and videos that touch on physics, creative expression, and South Asian culture. Kids can choose to read the story on their own or be read to. At various points in the book, kids must tap and interact with the illustrations to move the story along. Kids can also record their own voice narrating the story or providing sound effects for which they'll need access to the device's microphone. Note that the wild animals do threaten to eat Grandma, which could be upsetting to more sensitive kids. Some technical glitches interfered with a smooth user experience during review. The developers promise to publish a grown-up's guide on their website that they say will help make using the app a more meaningful experience. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how the app handles your information.

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What's it about?

GRANDMA'S GREAT GOURD has four sections: Read, Roll, Record, and Explore. Read the story about a grandma who tricks three wild animals out of eating her as she journeys to and from visiting her daughter. Turn narration, highlighted text, sound effects, and music on or off through the settings menu. Choose speed and angle to roll grandma in her gourd and see how far she travels. Record your own voice providing sound effects and/or narration, and use your recordings when reading the story. Or watch short videos that showcase food, art, clothing, and more from South Asian cultures.

Is it any good?

An engaging story with beautiful graphics about a strong-willed and clever grandma also contains some interactive extras. The story itself allows -- and sometimes requires -- kids to tap around the screen to set sound effects or story progression in motion. This keeps kids engaged but is mostly simple enough to not be distracting. It's especially nice to dive into a world and culture that's not often represented. Beyond the story, kids can learn small tidbits about South Asian culture in the video section. And the record-your-own-voice option is a great way to empower kids and their families to get creative, express themselves, and make the story their own. Grandma's Great Gourd's weakest offering is the gourd-launch game, which seems like a superficial addition. Execution is awkward, and catching the power and angle levers at the "right" time is more about timing and pure luck than any kind of physics learning. The connection between where those levers stop and what happens with the gourd launches is unclear. It's also frustrating because higher levels only unlock after accumulating a certain number of points, but there's no indication of how many total points you have. Despite these drawbacks, Grandma's Great Gourd remains a beautiful, solid digital storybook with nice interactive elements.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about reading a digital book, like Grandma's Great Gourd, versus a traditional book. What's different about the two experiences? Is one more fun, engaging, or inspiring than the other? What can the digital form do that the paper form can't, and vice versa?

  • Watch the videos and explore some of the themes together offscreen using the parent guide. Make the puffed-rice snack, create South Asian-inspired art, and learn the different ways to say "grandma" in as many languages as you can.

  • Record your or your kid's voice reading the story. Have kids get silly and creative in making sound effects. If your family is bilingual, record the story in the languages your family speaks, or have Grandma record the story and listen to the recording when she's not around.

App details

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