What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, though most Toca Boca apps are for preschoolers, Toca Builders was designed for kids ages 5 to 11. For kids not quite ready for or interested in Minecraft, Toca Builders offers sandbox-style play where kids can create worlds. It's easier to pick up and play than Minecraft, and there's no fighting or monsters.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- part-whole relationships
- making new creations
- digital creation
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
Since kids direct their experience -- from what to build to which builder to use -- they're in control of their fun and engagement. The controls take a little getting used to, but the design is beautiful.
Sandbox-style, open-ended creation is hot in learning right now. Kids learn through creating and problem-solving. Being in control of what they create personalizes (and makes relevant) their learning experience.
Players are left to figure out most of the gameplay on their own, which is part of the learning (and fun) experience. The parents section includes written instructions. The app saves each world automatically.
What's it about?
Play starts with a flat world floating on water. Kids control six different builders, each with a different job, to design whatever worlds they can imagine. One builder paints the ground. Another drops blocks from a backpack or destroys them with a hammer. A crane places blocks in high places, and a jumper hops up and places blocks. Another painter spits paint, and one builder stretches and places blocks in midair. Different builders can destroy blocks, too -- but not in an antagonistic way -- just to help create the world that kids imagine. There's no competition or objective in the open-ended creation game. It's like playing with LEGOs without having to store them.
Is it any good?
Alongside Minecraft and other sandbox-style creation toys and games, Toca Builders holds its own. The builder characters will appeal to kids drawn to stories, and the open-ended creation possibilities put kids in charge of their fun. Some characters move directionally using a gear-like shifter. Some move using a roller ball. Switching back and forth can get a little confusing, but most of the other controls are easy to pick up and fun to play around with. Parents who have had their device's camera roll fill up with their kids' Toca Boca creations will appreciate that Toca Builder's default is not linked to the camera roll. It can be changed in the game's settings. Creations are automatically saved, too, and kids can revisit them. It would be nice if all of the builders could enter the buildings kids create, but some are taller than six blocks, the maximum number of blocks the game allows players to stack.
Families can talk about...
Steer kids who like to build with LEGOs or who are interested in Minecraft but may be too young for it to Toca Builders.
Ask how the experience of building with LEGOs compares to the experience building in Toca Builders.
Ask kids about their creations and encourage them to share with you stories about their worlds.