New neighbors have arrived in Dr. Panda Town, making it a little bigger. It now includes 2 additional community buildings to explore! A school and a police department can be added as IAPs to the existing town and mall. We set this out in front of 3-5-year-olds to put it to the test, and it quickly became the hit of the day! Kids loved to explore all the buildings. They tapped, dragged and dropped different items to the characters and had a blast. The app is meant for 3-8-year-olds and has the pacing needed so that kids are able to process the content as well as begin to develop their own narrative while playing.
Developmentally younger kids are encouraged to experiment with the objects found within each building, helping them learn to categorize and learn the expectations of function and roles within that part of the town, i.e. the school has books, and the police department has a safe! Everything within the chosen environments has causation – meaning it does something. Lights turn off and on, plants grow once watered, and even the cameras print out pictures.
Having too much happening within a scene can sometimes be overwhelming, and it is thoughtful that each theme is self-contained with a definite beginning middle and end. Once objects are used, that part of the theme is finished until reopening the app – food that is consumed disappears. This also serves as a gentle nudge to explore other areas of a building. Because there is a timeline inherent when playing in each building, the cause and effect opens up discussions of the purpose of everyday events – “What do you do with the hamster poo?”
Parents, teachers, and clinicians like the organization of each of the town’s components. They have a diverse set of characters to interact with, and playing Dr. Panda apps is safe from ads and ongoing additional costs. It is amazing to see these component playsets of both the town and mall work seamlessly together. Some of the buildings such as the school have a familiar look to their stand-alone app, I would recommend after a few plays to turn the music off to allow creativity and the ability to develop a narrative. Most of the younger kids talked themselves through the activities and were already beginning to develop their own stories. This is awesome to witness as it shows that kids have become comfortable with the new environments and are ready to interact. This app is highly recommended to introduce young children to their communities and to begin in role-playing and imaginary play.