10 reasons we love Toca Boca
We get asked a lot about apps we recommend. The App Store has swelled so much over the last couple of years that the challenge of finding high quality, relevant apps is becoming more and more daunting for the everyday educator.
In this respect, I was recently asked by a team of Foundation Stage teachers to suggest apps to them. This is no mean feat when you consider the stats: There are 1,000,000+ apps in the app store of which there are around 40,000 in the education section. Of this, around 75% are aimed at pre-school and early years students! The iToddlers need their fix after all. :)
Knowing where to start can be incredibly challenging but the one name that I always throw out when asked by educators or parents from this teaching stage is Toca Boca. Here's a quick breakdown of why that is:
1. The graphic design
Let's face it, some of the apps on the App Store look like they were drawn by the children they're aimed at. Not so the Toca apps. They are vibrant, engaging and packed with colourful characters.
The brand has built itself admirably and been consistent in it's high quality since day one. Few other app developers can match them for reliably producing the goods time after time. This is why we often refer to Toca as one of the App Store "brands you can trust" alongside Kids Discover and Motion Math.
3. Authentic, real world learning
The Toca apps seek to enrich learning about real world activities that are important for youngsters. whether it be learning about food preparation or getting a haircut. Toca House is an excellent example of this as its range of activities all center on helping out around the house. Washing dishes, cleaning the floor, putting the shopping away. Just think how well trained the Toca toddler will become as they get old enough to help mum out for real!
4. Language neutral interface
These are apps that can be used by children who cannot yet understand language. This widens the scope for the apps massively to incorporate children who do not speak English and even SEN kids. In fact it was a behavioural therapist who first intoduced me to Toca. She uses their apps successfully with autistic children.
5. Constructivist learning and absorption
We often speak about the divide between absorption apps and creation apps. The Toca apps walk a fine line in between these two categories. Yes they are allowing children to absorb information about the world around them but they also allow them to get creative and design things for themselves. A great example here is the recent Toca Hair Salon Me which takes the concept from their previous Toca Hair Salon and adds the ability to insert your own photos and give friends and family a virtual haircut. Or how about the mini-Minecraft of Toca Builders? The fashion design work of Toca Tailor
6. Gamification in action
You may have read my recent article on gamification or better yet our exclusive interview with Karl Kapp (author of "The Gamification of Instruction and Learning.") If you have, then you'll know how relevant I feel the use of games is for redefining modern education. Toca is a great example of a company that harnesses the principles that are intrinsic to gamification. Learning is wrapped inside fun, achieveable challenges that engage and delight in equal measure.
7. No points, no fails, no pressure
Despite the fact that they take game form, their is no sense of pressure in the Toca games. Players don't lose, die or fail and there are no points or badges to worry about. This is ideal for the early learner as the focus is fun. Focused fun equals learning.
8. They suit boys or girls
There are some excellent apps out there that only appeal to one gender (hello Disney Princess Story Theatre) but Toca appeals to boys and girls alike. Every app has multiple characters to choose from and the games themselves are fun for all kids.
9. No advertising or in-app purchases
Speaks for itself really! Toca prides itself on offering child-safe digital environments.
10. They always have something new up their sleeve
With over 20 apps in their stable, you'd think Toca might rest on their laurels but they continue to diversify and expand the range with fresh content. Here at iPad Educators, we can't wait to see what they come up with next! In the meantime, take a look at the video to the right to take a peek at their latest offering, Toca Lab
To find out more about the Toca Boca range, visit their official site by clicking here.
You can also watch a whole host of Toca apps in action by checking out their offical Youtuve channel by clicking here.