Bottom line: Teaches left and right directionality and reinforces other skills in a child-centered, relaxed and fun manner.
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Left Right Pup is the third app from Mrs Judd's Games, a division of KBooM! Games, and it's a winner. It's not only simple, easy and intuitive but also rich in features that will engage children and teach them a variety of skills. At $1.99 it's also sold at the right price point. If your child is learning left and right, buy it.
The game has two venues in which your child can play - the park or the beach. In the park, a man with a megaphone calls out 'left' and 'right' to a puppy. The puppy is standing with his back to the child, so he is oriented in the correct way. Good start. There are paw prints on the left and right side of the screen and the child taps on a paw to choose the direction that corresponds to the one called out by megaphone man. If they press the correct one, the puppy then points and walks off in that direction and a park-appropriate object like a squirrel pops up. If the child is quick enough and taps on the object before it disappears, it is added to a collection which is shown at the bottom of the screen. If the child selects the wrong paw print, the puppy looks confused and shrugs its shoulders and the man calls out the same direction again. Half way through the game, a food cart arrives bearing snacks.
The beach location is essentially the same as the park, but this time it's the pup calling out the directions and the man, who we now see is a surfer dude (which explains his intonation), rides the waves to and fro. Now the child gets to collect nautical items like pirates. My son Oliver really enjoyed the puppy in the park game but initially wasn't into the beach version. After going to a Surfer's Healing camp however, he learned what surfing actually was and subsequently found this game a lot more enjoyable.
There's so much to like about this deceptively simple app, it's hard to know where to begin, so I'll summarize some of the highlights:
• The artwork looks like something a child and parent would have made together as a craft project. It's colorful and rich in textures and materials, like cork board and felt. I loved the look.
• The music is upbeat, fun and not annoying. I saw Oliver bopping along to it which is a sure sign it was good, but it also drew him into the game rather than distracting from it. The music and sound effects can be muted if necessary.
• Directions are given using audio prompts, written words and reinforced by the characters' pointing gestures.
• The app has a relaxed feel - children can take as long as they want to decide on a direction and during that time will continue to receive audio and written prompts. After incorrect choices the app simply directs the child to try again.
• Collecting objects requires concentration as well as quick reactions. The prizes act as reinforcers to ensure the child stays engaged and continues to play.
• The dog and surfer model turn taking, which was a detail I really liked.
Despite all these excellent attributes, there are a few enhancements I’d recommend to ensure mastery of the subject. The app relies on the child moving the puppy or surfer after the direction is called out. Offering reversed play where the puppy moves and the child has to identify the direction as left or right would help generalize the skill. Also, kids need to associate left and right with their own body and in particular, their hands. Starting the app with the child placing their left and then right hand over an on-screen outline would help cement the association.
Definitely worthy of top pick status. Highly recommended.
This review was written by Deanne Shoyer who is left-handed and finds nothing sinister about that at all. smartappsforkids was paid a priority review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.