I’m a Chipper Mom – Good Kids Apps Review: Puffs Playground App
A day long hike turning over rocks, jumping in and out of streams, and casting magical spells on each other was only made better by the sounds of my mom strumming her guitar singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” by the campfire. Even as a young girl, I always cried because it made me think of my first dog, Puff, a playful sheepdog ever loyal and at the ready to be my best friend. The song about a magical dragon sparked many adventures with my own imaginary friends. No matter where we went camping it always felt like the land called Honalee after that first night and most requested campfire song.
Imagination is a powerful tool for children and when we nourish it we help foster the creative spirit which even scientist say is necessary. Dr. Michio Kaku, Theoretical Physicist and author says creativity plays into the “aha” moment; this allows the scientist to think outside the box and push towards new beneficial discoveries be it in medicine, engineering, space programs, all of it. Imagination is the first seed of creativity and kids need the opportunity to exercise theirs through multi-sensory experiences. I say this because with so many apps on the market today, I often wonder if they stifle and stunt imagination over excite the wonder of true explorations that engage our five senses.
I recently discovered Puff’s Land of Honalee had gone digital so I was curious to see if after 50 years, could the magic still be sparked by tapping on an app. Puff’s Playground app welcomes all ages into Creative Cove, a creativity center with a plethora of tools to paint, draw, create mixed media collages, or simply use coloring pages from the original artwork Puff, the Magic Dragon storybook.
A fan of puzzles, I enlisted the help of my two daughters to join me in Puzzle Plantation where we connected the pieces to bring images from the original Puff to life. In Castle of Concentration we engaged in a classic game of memory featuring character art but innovated with playful sound effects.
Created by FatRedCouch, a Marin-based interactive media company headquartered in the former building of George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic, as well as Pixar, I was happy to see the spirit of imagination was alive and well along with the level of quality in the artwork and production. A quick browse through the publisher’s portfolio of apps and you can see they are indeed committed to creating good kids apps.
There is plenty to do with this app (it’s free with in app purchasing) but we hit our self-prescribed family-allotted time limit so it was time to grab our sticks and go have some fun on Mt. Tam frolicking in the mist we call fog this time of year. The app sparked memories for me and created another layer of wonder for my kids, I knew it would translate to more pictures being drawn at the kitchen table.
I’m a Chipper mom and, to me, a good kids app should inspire thought, conversation, and creativity. I want a Good Kids App to be playful and embrace nature, art, science, music, and educate while having fun. Sounds like a lot but it’s not when you focus truly on the development of a child; when it comes to imagination just excite it and watch the wonder light up. If you are choosing an app, I hope you will follow Chipper’s GoodKidsApp guidelines:
1. Is it story-based with a clear, kind message
2. Does it engage and excite imagination away from the gadget
3. Does it spark conversation and promote learning
Puff’s Playground app does this and more for us as I quickly learned while listening to my girls sing a cherished song introduced by Peter, Paul, and Mary more than 50 years ago. Time to frolick!
Available on iTunes. Free with in-app purchases.