Watching kids play Avokiddo’s new app, DNA Play, is like seeing the birth of STEAM education for the very young in action. (STEAM stands for: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.) DNA Play is wildly creative, brave, and most of all outrageously fun. In the U.S. there is a big controversy on when and how to present certain subjects of studies. We wait…and wait…and wait, and then wonder why kids are having such a hard time retaining the massive amount of material when subjects are eventually broached. Avokiddo is showing that it is never too early to start, and laying down foundations in early learning may just set pathways of understanding in motion. The subtlety of how information concerning the magic of science and genetics is presented is inspiring, and in the guise of creating little monsters in an open play format. On opening, a DNA chain is spiraling at the top. Initially we see parts of genetic material break away from the chain, and it is up to the child to help put that monster back on his evolutionary track by matching the needed counterpart to its mate. There are two connections, either a rounded or pointed point for that particular gene. And in its connection, kids create a body part for their monsters. There are portions in the chain that stop on certain monster like parts: the head, body, arms and legs. Wowie! What happens if I shift their genetic chain just a little? Is it OK to tweak my monster a bit?” I like this head better.” Interchange the gene sequences with a swoosh of the hand, and watch the monsters mutate. Or for kids that cannot grasp changing the DNA-like structures to mutate… Avokiddo has created the ability to just tap on a body part to change it, making the app more accessible to younger learners. There are over 200 billion possibilities! The helix, always on top, imprints the mechanics of DNA structures on little minds, and teaches that certain genes make change a possibility. After your monster is completed, it is time for play. Anything can happen here, from dancing to an old Victrola to eating veggies. There is even a pink elephant racing by when the monster is on a skateboard! I do wish on a future update there were a switch so as to change up the action a little more at will, but that is a minor point. Once completed, a monster can be saved for future play and/or in the camera roll stamped with their DNA code. The parent’s section has some wonderful resources, and is well worth reading.
Avokiddo always pushes the edge to teaching kids how to think. In DNA Play, kids look at who they are and what are the possibilities with someone who is different. Looking at the ability to change, not only sets up compassion for those that cannot, due to a genetic predisposition, but also what is possible for what one can overcome. AND it just may give a child the idea of how to help another. Kids, who play DNA Play, just may be the next discoverer in the cure for cancer or other disabilities. One never knows what impact a little play makes, and that is why Avokiddo and DNA Play is a Top Pick and a favorite of TWA! Available on iOS
Jo Booth OTR/L has been an Occupational Therapist for over 35 years, and currently practices at EasterSeals of Sepa, Montgomery County Division mainly focusing in Early Intervention. It is an APS (Approved Private School) and home outreach based setting. She has also worked in Adolescent and Adult Rehabilitation. Writing reviews for Teachers With Apps has been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.