Play together, learn more


As we build apps at Tinybop, we play-test. Observing kids playing with our apps is the only way to tell whether kids will enjoy and learn from them. But we don’t just watch kids play our apps alone. After play-testing, we let kids share the app they’ve tested with their parents. If parents are as engaged with an app as their kids are, that’s a good sign.

When we tested Plants, for example, we heard a mother and son make the same swishing sounds as they tapped clouds to cause rain, and later we watched a girl use the app to demonstrate how a plant develops seeds to her attentive father. We hope that lots of families will play with Tinybop’s apps together in this way.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center writes, “No matter how many amazing things an app does, some of the most important activities don’t happen on your device’s screen.” With apps, the Cooney Center continues, families can learn, explore, and bond together. The Cooney Center should know. The research organization, affiliated with Sesame Street’s producer, bases their claim on studies that show when parents watch Sesame Street with their children, their children learn more. Apps can work the same way.

When parents ask questions, they push kids to think a little more critically. A mother once asked her son why he chose to use a certain type of inclined plane when he was play-testing our Simple Machines app. He returned to the app, experimented a bit, and then explained why he chose the one he did.

Kids teach their parents, parents ask questions, and vice versa. Both learn as they play, test, and observe together. In fact, research shows that kids learn best from apps when they are active and engaged in play that is meaningful and social.

Our apps are starting points for kids and parents to explore and ask each other questions. Our handbooks expand the learning possibilities — offering prompts and activities for you and your child to discover together. For more ideas on how to get the most out of your shared screen time, consult the Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s excellent resource Family Time with Apps.