Avokiddo Emotions – Playful learning for kids is the second offering from the development team that brought you Beck and Bo – and it’s a flawless play-based learning app for both younger children and autistic kids. If your children find cartoon animals engaging then you’ll want to buy this app, especially given its low price of $1.99.
I’ve outlined below how it works, what I like about it and a couple of recommendations for the developer. To keep your attention until the bottom of the post there’s a video of Oliver playing with the app (including footage of a type you’ve never seen before!) and there’s details of how you can enter to try and win one of two copies of the app.
Summary – is the app worth buying?
Yes! (Oliver gives it two enthusiastic thumbs up).
How does the app work?
Not much to explain here as the app is very simple to use. If you watch the video at the bottom of the post then you can see it in action. From the opening menu, adults can press and hold the ‘for parents’ button:
In that section you can then choose: how many objects you want your child to play with at one time, if you only want vegetarian food options to appear and if you want the snapshots your kids can take of the animals to save to your device’s camera roll. From this screen you can also access more information on the developer.
Back at the home screen, your child selects one of the animals to play with. Objects fall from the top of the screen that your child and their animal friend can then play with. When your child taps the lever on the right hand side of the screen, the items they were playing with disappear and new ones drop down.
What I like about the app
- Like Beck and Bo, Avokiddo Emotions is beautifully rendered. The graphics are gorgeous and the music is completely addictive. I have never heard Oliver sing instrumental music from apps before, but yesterday I heard him singing “be-bop de da, do dee do da” – adorable.
- At $1.99 it’s very competitively priced; this app is great value.
- Again, like Beck and Bo, there’s no language in the app so it’s accessible to children anywhere.
- Also with respect to accessibility, toddlers and kids with fine motor challenges will be able to use this app provided they can tap and drag and drop.
- The app demonstrates nicely the principles of cause and effect and this really drew Oliver into the app quickly. It is SO much fun and very engaging to play. The video you see below is the third one I recorded – the first two were a bust in terms of interaction because Oliver just laughed so hard through the whole thing!
- Once he’d got over the fact that he found the app hysterically funny, I observed so many nice benefits from Oliver playing this app:
- I’ve looked at a lot of apps over the years that attempt to assist autistic children recognize emotions and facial expressions. What’s actually helped my kids in this regard is animation – Thomas the Tank Engine, Cars, Chuck and Friends – my children have an easier time recognizing facial expressions when actual human faces aren’t involved. Avokiddo Emotions works the same way for Oliver – I heard lovely comments like ‘the zebra is happy!’ and when he took the above photo of the sheep he said ‘the sheep is cold,’ then, after the sheep sneezed he said, ‘he sneezed! I hope he’s not sick!’. You’ll see in the video that the animals also demonstrate emotions and facial expressions he doesn’t yet recognize like disgust and this leads onto my next point.
- The app encourages imitation. Because it’s so engaging, Oliver was motivated to imitate sounds and faces in an effortless way, sometimes without prompting. I loved this!
- There are lots of opportunities for oral motor imitation. I don’t know if this was intentional, but for an app that includes no speech, there are countless opportunities provided for kids to imitate oral motor activities. Oliver’s lips and tongue don’t move very much – for example, his lips don’t pout when he kisses, he has a hard time blowing bubbles and he very rarely stretches his tongue to the front of his mouth, let alone out of it. Playing with this app he was sticking his tongue out (‘blech’), blowing bubbles and more – you’ll see some of this in the video.
Recommendations for the developer to consider in future updates
- The app itself is wonderful – I wouldn’t change a thing. I would however love to see a couple of adjustments/additions in parental settings. On the main menu screen there’s a small advert for Beck and Bo – it can only be accessed by press and hold but I’d prefer to see it in the parent-only area or, at least give parents the option to turn off the link if they choose.
- I’d like the option to mute the music and sound effects for a couple of reasons. First, in educational and therapy settings it’s often tough to let children play with noisy apps. Second, Oliver is so engaged in the music and sounds that it’s sometimes a challenge to get him to interact – he would comment or ask a question that I really wanted to expand on but then the sounds he was hearing would focus his attention back on the app. I love both the music and the sound effects but sometimes I wished I could turn them off to enhance our shared play experience.
I have TWO copies of the app to giveaway. If you would like to try and win a copy then leave a comment on this blog post outlining what feature(s) particularly like the sound of. Please also give the Avokiddo Facebook page a ‘like’. Two winners will be chosen at random in 48 hours!
See the app in action!
For the first time ever this includes video I shot so you can actually see Oliver playing with the app. I don’t really have the equipment to do this yet but I couldn’t resist – yesterday, he came running downstairs after he woke up, didn’t even stop to put his glasses on, and grabbed an iPad so he could play with Avokiddo Emotions. I just had to share with you how much fun he has with this app!
**disclaimer** I received a payment from the developer in order to produce this video. The payment was not for the review and please be assured that regardless, I would only recommend products that I believe will be good for my readers.