Gro Garden

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Gro Garden App Poster Image
Free play in virtual sustainable garden requires patience.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the wonders of gardening and caring for and nurturing living things. Kids also will experiment with scientific concepts such as order, process, and cycles. By protecting their plants from pests and growing different kinds of vegetables, they'll learn about healthy eating. Kids will feel proud and empowered when they pick the fully grown veggies and feed them to the animals. Gro Garden is a great start to showing your kids the cyclical organic gardening process; teaching them about the plants and actually getting your hands dirty is the best next step.

Ease of Play

Overall, kids should easily figure out how to play as they interact with the game. Actions do need to happen in a particular order, though, and kids may need a little help to understand the cyclical nature of the game. Expect some functionality issues; for example, sometimes the vegetables fall behind game buttons and are hard to recoup. Also, it's not easy to catch the compost bugs at the right time to feed them food scraps, and there's no home button once you're in the gameplay screen.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A small icon links to other apps by the same developer. Users must tap and hold for a few seconds to access.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that kids become virtual gardeners in Gro Garden. They plant and care for crops, feed hungry animals, and make compost from the food scraps. The game's pace is fittingly slow, as kids must wait for their crops to grow without the compost super boost or catch falling leaves one by one to generate some compost. Parents might need to encourage their kids to stick with it and be patient, because once the garden gets going, things will quickly pick up. After a long absence from the game, kids maintain their collections of compost and harvested veggies, but the garden plot will need to be replanted when kids come back.

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What's it about?

Kids can visit three areas in the GRO GARDEN: the garden plot, the house, and the compost bin. Plant seeds, shine the sun's rays, and drag rain clouds around to nurture crop growth in the garden. When the veggies are ready, bring them to the house, where hungry animals are waiting to eat. Gather the food scraps, feed them to microorganisms in the compost bin, and pick up the nutrient-rich compost. Bring the compost to the garden and use it to help your crops grow faster. Kids earn more seed types and some special food treats as their gardens grow.

Is it any good?

Gro Garden is a great, easy way to get kids excited about and engaged in gardening and sustainable living. With each area depending on some action in another area, kids get a sense of how growing and consuming food can be interconnected. They are free to drive their own experience, cycling through planting, harvesting, eating, making compost, and planting again. Small usability issues may prove frustrating: Catching the compost microorganisms to feed them food scraps can be hard, and some drag-and-drop elements don't always work easily. It also would be nice to see more background information, such as the names of the vegetables that kids are growing. This virtual garden doesn't fully represent the real thing (for example, no consequences for overwatering or failing to harvest full-grown veggies) and offers only a small taste of the rewards, but its slow pace -- which might be frustrating to some -- is a nod to the actual patience it takes to grow plants. Aside from its shortcomings, Gro Garden is a nice introduction to the wonders and excitement of sustainable gardening. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the cycle of the gardening process and how each step is interconnected with the others. What do we do first? What needs to happen next?

  • Plant your own garden! Don't worry if you don't have outdoor space -- even a windowsill or countertop can be enough for a small potted plant. You also can participate in local gardening or conservation efforts such as city gardens or city compost collections.

  • Eat lots of veggies and other natural foods. Involve kids in every step from choosing food and looking for recipes to cooking and eating! 

App details

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For kids who love science and the outdoors

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