Once again, StoryToys Entertainment Limited has created a magical extension of a beloved book in Eric Carle’s Brown Bear Animal Parade. This is not just a recitation of the book, but takes children inside the story, to direct the characters in a beautifully crafted symphony of play. Gameplay involves directing Brown Bear throughout the spaces to the left and right of the screen to find the other animals in this well-known book. Once discovered, kids invest time and effort coloring the animals with a tap of their finger to bring the animals to life, and by doing so slowly become an active part of Brown Bear’s world. They begin to first see, then hear the tales of the animals in distinct musical notation. By bringing in the auditory sphere of experience and its spatial relevancy, the world slowly and gently expands and becomes increasingly more real. Playing this with children – who were spellbound by the content was a privilege that one rarely experiences with an app. It reminded me of a visual version of Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev. In the end, there is a special feature where kids can record their own sounds to play back. We initially had trouble getting this to work (most probably due to us as the user), so I would recommend practicing it before using this feature with a child.
The graphics are crisp and set in a clean non-cluttered environment. Music has a rich tonal quality without the tinny constant looping of sound that gets hard to bear – (or hard for the bear to listen). Exploration is easily directed by children, and on testing, children as young as 2 could navigate in collecting the animals for the parade - many recognizing the animals from the book. Kids also tapped and retapped an animal to hear its sound as they gleefully began to recognize a certain sound that was paired with an animal. Many kids were able to recite lines from the book on discovery of a familar animal, and it served to reinforce color recognition. Because of the pacing and overall tonal quality of the app, it also served as a self-regulatory strategy for kids who are environmentally sensitive and may need a break from the stressors of their current space and environment. It would be an excellent app to use in a cozy reading corner.
Eric Carle’s Brown Bear Animal Parade is a TWA Top Pick and well deserving for our badge of excellence. Am I biased? Yes. Why? StoryToys has upped the ante with each app they produce by continuing to make magical experiences for kids. There are no right or wrong choices, just an openness of space to create and enjoy the experience in the moment. And that is a gift to one and all!
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.