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July 18, 2012

Toddie Downs’ App Review (2) – “My Play Home”

iPad App Review:  My PlayHome

Toddie Downs, M.A., CCC-SLP

Let’s talk about open-ended versus goal-oriented play apps. Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja are good examples of goal-oriented apps; in Angry Birds, the goal is to knock the pigs off their perches, and in Fruit Ninja, the goal is to slice open as many fruits as you can while avoiding the bomb. There’s definitely a place for goal-oriented game apps in child’s play that he or she can learn from. In fact, I’ll outline a few of my favorites in a future post. But in general, I tend to really like open-ended play apps where there’s no real defined goal to the play, because this lets the child use his or her imagination and really make the game what they want. Or, for therapists, it allows parents or therapists to structure the play activity in the app around whatever goals they happen to be working on with the child.

An outstanding open-ended play app is MyPlayHome by Shimon Young.  This app is basically like a virtual child’s doll house. The house has a kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom, and outside yard, and a family made up of a mom, dad, brother, sister and baby. Each of the rooms is outfitted with furniture and accessories appropriate to the room. So far, not too different from a doll house, right? But here’s where the fun comes in. You can move objects around or interact with the different objects in the house. For example, you can pull the curtains open and shut in the living room; turn on the shower in the bathroom, shampoo the characters’ hair, and dry them with a towel. In the kitchen, you can take items out of the refrigerator and put them on the table, or even pour cereal in a bowl.

The practical learning benefits to this game are enormous. At its simplest level, it gives a wide variety of cause-effect play and pretend play opportunities. At a higher level, it can aid in a child learning relevant vocabulary related to their house, or give a children practice at following all sorts of directions, from simple one-step directions (e.g. “Turn the radio on.”) to more complex directions dealing with sequence or location (e.g. “First put the mom in the shower and then shampoo her hair” or “Put the apple under the table.”) Its benefits are limited only by your imagination.


Age range:  Young toddlers on up

Target skills: Pretend play, conversation, cause-effect, house vocabulary, categories, following directions

Type of play: Open ended

Cost: $3.99 (as of review date)


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