It’s no secret my kids use the iPad. We actually pose pretty strict time limits, but when we limit too much, the kids end up watching more television which is not the desired result.
One of the problems we have with the iPad is the kids can easily switch from games to shows. We prefer them to play games, but don’t want to delete the show options entirely (they do come in handy sometimes) so we try to hide YouTube and the Disney app in the back of weird overcrowded folders. That never works— the kids are too smart for our lame attempts at technology subterfuge.
The solution seems to be to find great games that will engage the kids enough, so they won’t want to switch over to passive viewing. (Especially passive viewing that includes that Disney Collector lady!)
In my quest to find engaging games, I have downloaded lots of educational apps starring TV characters. This works for Mazzy but are usually too advanced for Harlow. She can only play for only so long before she gets frustrated.
Both Mazzy and Harlow love princess stuff but every princess app seems to be about putting on dresses and jewelry. In addition to offering no educational value whatsoever, the apps also restrict the good dresses and jewelry for parents who are willing to shell out small fortunes for virtual wardrobes.
When Mazzy uses one of the princess games, she is constantly begging to amp up her princess experience— Can I get the ballroom pack? Can I get the tiara collection? I want the pink earrings with the lock on them! THEY ARE SOOOOOOOO PRETTY!!!!!!
The conversation is always the same.
“The tiara collection costs $5.99. That is too much money.”
“BUT I REALLY WANT THE TIARA COLLECTION!!!!”
“Sorry, Mazzy. I am not going to buy it. You can buy three new apps for that price!”
“If you can’t keep it together, I am not going to let you play with the iPad at all.”
When Harlow uses a princess app, she falls into a purchasing wormhole every five seconds. Only she doesn’t know what is going on, only that she can’t get anything to work.
“It’s not working! It’s not working! It’s not working!” Harlow screams until I click the cancel button, touch five different arrows and finally get her back to home base.
“Why don’t you play this game instead?”
I hate the princess apps, can you tell? I don’t even know why I downloaded them in the first place. A moment of desperation, I am sure.
Anyway. Recently, Sago Mini emailed me about their new Fairy Tales exploration app, appropriate for ages 2-4 years old. (My parenting sweet spot!) Sago said the app “lets kids pull back the curtain on an enchanted forest filled with hidden surprises, wonderful delights and engaging characters.”
My kids like hidden surprises.
“Fairy Tales puts kids in full control, providing a rich and playful world that leaves plenty of room for imagination and creative storytelling.”
My kids like storytelling.
“Kids can explore the magical world alongside their friend, Jinja the cat.”
Harlow loves cats! She even pretends to be a cat half the time!
But do you know what really sold me?
“As with all the Sago Mini apps, Fairy Tales has no in-app purchases or third-party advertising whatsoever, so kids are free to play without interruption.”
I actually already owned Sago Mini Doodlecast (which I highly recommend) so I decided to let my kids give Fairy Tales a try.
THEY LOVED IT.
There is no game play— it’s just a magical world in which your child can move Jinja the cat up into the sky, through the trees, under a waterfall, back down to land, while interacting with many different characters along the way.
Every time Jinja approaches an interactive part of the world, a gold starburst appears. Your child moves Jinja over the burst and then something surprising happens. And the same spot might behave differently the second time you come across it.
For instance, the first time Jinga runs into a unicorn (located high up in the trees), the unicorn smiles and gives Jinga a hug. The second time Jinga interacts with the unicorn, Jinga offers him a cupcake, the unicorn eats it and then the unicorn farts. The unicorn farts! That’s enough reason to buy this app alone.
Jinja runs into garden gnomes, monsters and other familiar Sago Mini friends that appear in their other apps, like Robin Hood, Rosie the Witch, Prince Jack and Harvey “starring as” Rapunzel. Rapunzel’s long blonde hair turns into an Afro when Jinga eats the coin, which made Harlow laugh out loud.
Almost every detail of the world— from the acorns in the trees to the clouds in the sky to the fireflies Jinja collects along the way, demonstrate an interesting cause and effect. For a toddler who is just learning how touch technology works, Fairy Tales is the perfect introduction.
I thought the app was a little simple for Mazzy, but she loved it anyway, particularly the magical dress-up chest that Jinja can jump in, emerging as either a princess or a knight.
The day after I first showed Harlow the app, she asked for the iPad so she could play with the cat. Then she sat still for a solid amount of time, quietly engaged, except when a new character would present itself.
“A monster!” she yelled.
“He’s a funny monster,” she clarified, just in case I was worried.
And I sat beside them both on the couch, without lifting a finger to get Harlow out of a purchasing wormhole or fighting with Mazzy about virtual earrings.
That, my friends, is worth $2.99. (You can download it here.)
Then, leave a comment below telling me the most annoying thing your kid does with your iPad. Ask for princess app upgrades, mistakingly delete your email inbox, that kind of thing.
Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on February 13th. Just promise me you won’t spend your $20 on virtual tiaras.
UPDATE: Congratulations to Anna Dhody! You have won a Sago Mini Plush Toy and $20 iTunes Gift Card. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize.
This post was sponsored by Sago Mini, but all thoughts, opinions and love of unicorn farts are my own.