Gizmo by Moonbot Studios – As an early childhood educator, I understand the importance of imaginative play in a child’s development. I also understand that while many apps tout children being able to use their imagination while using them, few manage to accomplish this goal without the technology getting in the way. So often children get so caught up in earning points and getting to the next level that playing for the purpose of playing is gone. Not so with this app! Its simplicity is genius!
Gizmo, brought to us by Moonbot Studios, is a colorful, interactive dashboard for a spaceship. There are buttons to push, and levers to push and pull. Dashboard pieces roll over and reveal new ones. There are warning lights, funny aliens to see, and even a warp speed mode where stars whiz past on the screen.
Moonbot’s intention is for the app to be used in conjunction with a cardboard box. Yes, that’s right — because what child doesn’t love an empty box? Moonbot wants children to decorate a box to look like a spaceship, sit in it, and use the iPad as the vehicle’s control panel. I love how the app developers found a way to seamlessly merge technology and imagination into a playful experience full of fun. Gizmo is designed to serve as a tool to enhance a child’s imagination and creativity through their interactions with objects in the real world.
With a bit of trepidation, I used this app with an entire class of kindergarteners—an entire class of five-year-olds doing an unstructured activity all at the same time? What was I thinking? The answer is simple! I was thinking about fun! Due to space constraints, I could not give my students boxes to sit in. Instead, we sat under the tables and pretended we were astronauts. Before handing out the iPads, I showed my students videos of actual space shuttle launches and we discussed what objects they would see if they went to space. Finally, I gave my students the iPads. There were countdowns, blast-offs, mayday calls, requests to go faster, and lots of zooming. All students were on task and highly engaged. Imaginations were stretched and creativity soared like the rockets they were flying.
Children and adults alike will love being transported to outer space for awe-inspiring adventures with this amazing app!
Katie Chirhart is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been teaching for sixteen years. She has specializations in early childhood and reading. Recently, she finished her Campus Technology Certification. She began her career in College Station, TX teaching a full inclusion pre-kindergarten class. Currently, Katie lives and works in Shreveport, LA. After spending ten years teaching third grade, she now teaches in an elementary iPad Lab. She has earned When time allows, she enjoys working with teachers far and wide sharing the wonders of technology. Her current job is a dream come true.