Toca Boca is a company that my son (and I) have fallen in love with but they’ll be quick to tell you they produce toys for tech devices, NOT games.
I’m happy to talk tech to provide a little insight into the latest gems I’ve discovered for my 4 1/2 year old son (and mom and dad too).
I met with reps from Toca Boca when I was at the BlogHer conference. I was invited to a lunch to talk about children and technology. While the discussion never really got off the ground, I was excited to see all that Toca Boca was previewing for us.
Here’s the groundwork:
– They’re games, I mean, toys, or well, let’s just call them APPS.
– They’re created specifically for the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone
– They’re designed by a Swedish company with some pretty cool thought behind the APPS.
Toca Boca wanted to design apps for kids that were fun and creative and encouraged new skills. So why aren’t they calling them games? Can you really have a “toy” on an iPad?
This is my favorite part of it all. Toca Boca wanted to take the competitive element out of kids’ gaming. Their “toys” as they call them, are meant strictly for creative play. No winners and no losers. Frankly, I liked that idea. I wasn’t sure if my son would. He’s definitely growing up in the electronic era and really rocks at games on the Wii, iPad, iPhone, and sometimes the computer. But he does get upset when he doesn’t win.
So I sat him down, gave him my iPad, didn’t give him any instructions, and let him play. He fell in love with all four Toca Boca
games toys we were given to try: Toca Hair Salon, Paint My Wings, Toca Doctor, Toca Tea Party.
His favorite? The Toca Tea Party. He loves his stuffed animals and loved the idea of inviting them to a tea party. He seriously had the longest attention span for this game. And I sat and played with him too. He loved being the host.
If you want to see it in action, you can see how Evan hosted his very own tea party (with a surprise ending):
Can you tell that these games are gender neutral? He loved the tea party ( it doesn’t hurt that he already has his very own tea set). But he also loved the Toca Hair Salon. Here, he could cut, blow dry, regrow hair, and color to his heart’s desire. His favorite look, though, is the extreme blow dry look. He could totally do rock star hair.
Paint My Wings is another app that could have easily been geared towards girls and instead create a world of color and symmetry exploration that my son loves. I may have also painted a butterfly from time to time myself.
Finally, for the budding doctor in our kids, there is the Toca Doctor app. Someone enters with a few ailments, and as Dr. Toca, you fix them at your leisure. My son always saves the broken leg for last because it’s his favorite. Maybe he’s a budding radiologist. Or orthopedist.
Now for some good news and bad news…
– You want the bad news first? Okay.
These apps are only made for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Are they available for Android? No, they are not. End of story.
(Actually, this isn’t even bad news for me because I use all Apple products but I was trying to think of the few of you out there that don’t.)
Most of the apps can be purchased and used on ANY of the devices. The iPhone apps will scale with proper resolution with the 2x button on the iPad. EXCEPT for the Toca Tea Party. That just makes sense to have on the iPad only.
– Here’s the good news.
Most of these apps will run you 99 cents. YES 99 CENTS! I don’t even think you can get anything out of the bubble gum machine for that much. Some of these apps are also available in HD if you are buying them specifically for the iPad. They’ll run you somewhere between $1.99 and $2.99. Personally, I prefer to pay a bit more for HD apps on my iPad. After all, he’s worth it.
Disclosure: Toca Boca provided free downloads of all of the apps listed above and a free t-shirt (because my son loves that shirt). I was not compensated in any way other than these games, or toys. You know what I mean. All opinions are my own.