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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What Parents Need to Know
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What’s It About?
GROW FOREST is an interactive app for preschool-age kids who like to design and explore. Maneuver the yellow bunny around the world to greet diverse people, animals, even colorful trolls. While exploring the forest, kids can use their finger to walk the bunny around, and then tap different buildings, icons, and vehicles to further explore games. Kids can build buildings step-by-step as they drag and drop the boards, and then tap the nails in order to secure each piece. Then, after building a structure, they can go inside to decorate. Some free furniture is included in each building, but kids will want to participate in other mini-games in the forest, where they earn wood as a reward to use in the store to purchase additional home furnishings like decorative vases, clocks, rugs, beds, and lanterns. Kids can decorate the houses and put furnishings where they want. Entering buildings repeatedly unlocks free rewards of new furnishings and other items, too. There are many options to drive vehicles to get from one location to another faster, such as hopping into cars or even flying above the world in a hot air balloon. To unlock new areas of the world, kids will need to participate in a mini-game where they move away boulders by driving a construction vehicle and pave the road. Food items are good for using in the store to trade in for other items or putting them into a pot to be used for a cooking activity to create new foods. Additional mini-games have a science and sustainability theme, showing kids that even after cutting down trees in the forest, we can replace what we've used. Some activities in the game are just fun and silly, like Banya the bunny jumping off a diving board and doing flips into a lake.
Is It Any Good?
Grow Forest is a beautifully designed app with many features that appeal to kids of different ages and interests and include positive messages and important concepts. It's very intuitive for preschoolers, as they can participate in what seem like more complicated activities, like building houses, in an easy, step-by-step way. Activities have a practical STEM focus, as they aim to teach kids about how the simple act of cutting down and harvesting wood can eventually pave the way for other buildings and household goods. Users are "walked" through the mini-games in a specific order that doesn't really allow for any creative problem-solving, just tapping buttons or dragging pieces through the template to get to the next step. However, while it doesn't offer a problem-solving challenge, it does introduce important concepts and connections in accessible ways. The world is large to explore, but the games are repetitive, and they re-appear throughout the entire world in different locations. The app only prompts to upgrade to the full, paid version on the main screen, so kids can still be immersed in the world without distracting ads. The free version of the app includes a ton of gameplay, and the full version of the app is well worth the price.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Grow Forest can help kids think and learn about sustainability in the environment. Even though resources like trees may be cut down, planting new trees and recycling materials helps our ecosystem thrive. What can we reuse or recycle?
Kids can trade in food and wood harvested from the forest for items to decorate their homes. Talk about different ways to barter and manage currency in our daily lives. How can you earn money? Do you have a goal to save for?
The world in the app has a map with markers for where the character is in reference to other landmarks in the app. Parents can use this opportunity to help kids understand how to use a map to find their location and how to navigate to new, unexplored areas. What are the four directions? How do we read maps?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
- Subjects: Math: addition, counting, subtraction, Science: engineering, ecosystems and the environment, life cycle, plants, weather, Social Studies: geography
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: prediction, Creativity: imagination, Responsibility & Ethics: fiscal responsibility, honoring the community
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Release date: June 2, 2017
- Category: Education
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, STEM, Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Science and Nature
- Publisher: Gro Play
- Version: 2.0.1
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 8.0 or later
- Last updated: February 6, 2020
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