Bottom Line: Delightful introduction to dinnertime routines for preschool kids led by a friendly giraffe.
Even the promise of a generous allowance isn’t always enough to get my boys to set and clear the table. Perhaps if I’d had access to Bo’s Dinnertime by Dutch developer Heppi, help in the kitchen would be easier to come by. Dinnertime is the second app featuring Bo, a hand drawn giraffe of many talents. Bo's Bedtime Story was his first app.
This universal app with English and Dutch narration is appropriate for the youngest iDevice users. The interface is simple and intuitive. Kids only need to press play to get started on dinner.
First up is a trip to the store for groceries. Little ones move a shopping cart back and forth to catch food as it falls off the shelf. The food blinks first to let users know which direction to move the cart. Once the cart is full, an arrow at the top of the page blinks to signal it’s time to turn the page. These sorts of hints appear throughout the app and make navigation a cinch.
Once home, Bo asks for help putting the groceries away. This task entails matching shapes. Cooking, setting the table, eating and cleaning up tasks follow. Each of the ten pages brings a new job for Bo’s helpers. The jobs incorporate a wide variety of skills including counting ice cream scoops, puzzles, motor, color identification and matching. Each time through the requested items, numbers and colors change so replay remains fun and challenging. Because the directions are given verbally, listening and recall are also important. The app ends with an upbeat sing along. Kids learn without even realizing it.
An extra feature accessible from the home page gives kids a chance to choose foods to feed Bo’s friends. After placing two foods on the plate, kids get to “eat” by moving their fingers over the food. The sound effects are great and hearing LuLu and Tommie burp is sure to induce giggles. I do wish some of the foods were more recognizable and/or mainstays of a kid’s diet and some thought should be given to healthy choices. Bo’s friends get to munch on cupcakes and ice cream.
Overall, nearly everything is well thought out and done with flair. Bo is an appealing narrator and sufficiently motivating. Vibrant colors fill each page. The sound effects that accompany the various scenes add another fun element. Even the all important step of washing hands is included.
The one exception is the cooking page. Kids are instructed to put items in a pot of boiling water and others in a frying pan. Hot oil, boiling water and toddlers are a bad combination. My kids are ten and I still limit access to the stove for fear of burns. Bo needs to include kitchen safety in his dinnertime practice.
Although Bo’s Dinnertime is aimed at preschoolers, it also is appropriate for special needs children. Cooking is a mainstay of speech therapy because of all the good action words, spatial concepts and need to follow instructions required. Cook, stir, pour, clean, wipe and eat are all good vocabulary for those with language difficulties. Directions to put something on the table, in the pot, over or under are equally important for demonstrating receptive language.
Bo’s Dinnertime is deceptively simple, but it packs a lot of learning into a very creative package. More about Heppi, artist Esther Naalden and Bo’s world including YouTube movies is available from the i tab at the bottom of the home screen.
If you would like to purchase Bo's Dinnertime ($1.99, iPad/iPhone) please support Smart Apps for Kids by using this link button:
Jill Goodman is well qualified to write this review since she and her boys have hand fed giraffes at the Columbia Zoo. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.