Toca Pet Doctor

Common Sense Media says

Kids cure and feed animals in cute, empathy-promoting app.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

There are no instructions, but the app clearly guides kids visually through the animals' expressions and noises, the available medical props for each animal, and the food choices. For kids who need verbal instructions, parents may need to offer a bit of first-time play support. Still, this is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, Toca Boca free-play apps for the youngest users, age 2 to 4. 

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

A small icon in the corner of the main screen promotes another Toca Boca app. If that icon is tapped, it takes kids to the App Store. Parents can disable this in their device settings by toggling Toca News to "Off." There are no in-app purchases.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

You're not required to register to use the app, although parents can enter an email address on a parent's page to get the developer's newsletter. The privacy policy explains how other personal and nonpersonal data is collected and used.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Toca Pet Doctor is a free-play app for animal-loving kids that empowers them to care for 15 sick or injured animals and nurse them back to health. Kids can help Tarzan the upside-down turtle, Blob the snail, Brie the mouse, and other adorably animated animals by applying simple human-based cures -- such as bandages and toothbrushes -- through swiping, holding, and tapping. Then kids can feed the animals, who promptly fall fast asleep, happy and well. Kids can wake up the animals if they want to care for them again. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Hobbies

  • pets

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • deduction
  • thinking critically

Emotional Development

  • empathy

Health & Fitness

  • fine motor skills
  • preventing sickness
  • balanced diet

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Kids provide care for adorable animals in this highly engaging app for very young users. The well-designed, easy-to-use, free-play design requires little to no guidance.

Learning Approach

Like most Toca Boca apps, Toca Pet Doctor encourages learning and empowers kids through free play: "No rules or stress."

Support

There's essentially no reason for extra help to be offered on this free-play app; however, kids who need verbal support may need assistance during the first play session. An extension activities idea section for parents would boost support, too.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Hobbies

  • pets

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • deduction
  • thinking critically

Emotional Development

  • empathy

Health & Fitness

  • fine motor skills
  • preventing sickness
  • balanced diet

Kids can learn basic thinking and reasoning skills, as well as the emotional skill of empathy, through play on Toca Pet Doctor. Kids treat 15 ill animals, feed them, and then watch as they happily drift off to sleep. Kids apply ointment, brush teeth, and feed animals flies, vegetables, and more. Some actions require matching a shape to an outline or present opportunities to count objects. Kids use fine motor skills to slowly wind bandages, swipe, and tap to complete the tasks. The very simple play activities on Toca Pet Doctor allow even the youngest app users to feel empowered to help the animals.

This Learning Rating review was written by Dana Villamagna

What's it about?

In TOCA PET DOCTOR, kids choose an animal in a waiting room full of 15 sick animals by tapping on it. Then they notice visual clues to see what's bothering the animal and what items they can use or actions they can do to help (usually by swiping, holding, or tapping an object). Kids then watch and listen as the animal gets better and move onto the screen where they can feed it before the animal blissfully falls asleep. Tap the arrow to return to the room and choose another patient.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Toca Pet Doctor begins with a waiting room full of sick animals where cuteness is the most widespread epidemic. From the little guinea pig who has stuff stuck in her teeth (that kids can help by brushing) to the worm who has tied himself into a knot (for kids to undo), this is one highly adorable app. Very young app users likely will catch on quickly to the simple actions required to interact with the animals, medical supplies, and food to help the critters feel better. Like other Toca Boca apps, this app offers complete free play -- there are no rules, points, or items to win.

Since the animals' illnesses and injuries are presented in such a bright, sweet way, and kids are empowered to be the medical helpers for the animals, this app may even help kids feel more comfortable about getting medical assistance themselves when a boo-boo or bellyache needs attention. Kids use cures such as bandages, ointments, and casts, which they may see or experience in real life. The app also reinforces the message that eating healthy helps those who are sick feel better. Toca Pet Doctor is feel-good fun for little ones.

Families can talk about...

  • Ask your kids how they think each animal may be feeling when they're sick or hurt and how the animal seems to feel after being helped. This may help your kids express the emotions they experience during illness or injury and help develop empathic vocabulary.

  • Since there are no verbal instructions (only visual clues), if your kid is having trouble deciding what to do with an animal, ask her what she sees and how it might be used. 

  • Count the food as your kid is giving it to the animals ("Let's feed the cat some fish. One, two, three, four, five fish. He ate all five fish!").

  • Use specific vocabulary related to the animal's body parts ("That's her beak") or colors you see ("The orange frog's spots are green").

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Price:$2.99
Release date:February 27, 2014
Category:Education
Topics:Cats, dogs, and mice
Size:60.70 MB
Publisher:Toca Boca
Version:1.0.1
Minimum software requirements:iOS 5.0 or later

This review of Toca Pet Doctor was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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