Highlights™ Shapes is a wonderful foray for toddlers to explore how shapes form the world around us. Made in conjunction with Colto, a leading children’s app developer, it is a perfect blend of presenting spatial concepts within a storyline to keep kids engaged. The storyline centers on an adorable little traveling fox as he/she explores different environs. In route, little puzzlers arise, and give kids a chance to engage and then process information when the fox is traveling. This type of early spatial play influences how things are built – how parts make a whole and how a shape can influence communicative intention based on their context. For instance, a triangle in a pizza parlor carries far different connotations than a yield sign on the side of the road. Although we learn they are different, there is an inherent predictability and security in its recognition, and the world begins to take on forms that are familiar and make sense.
On opening, there are 3 worlds to choose from: an ancient jungle, the deep sea, or outer space! The jungle comes with the download of the app, and the other two environments are available as one IAPs. To begin play, there is an open invitation to match – just one shape, and we then see that shape begin to take on other forms. Each page contains just a little bit more of a challenge and builds on prior experience. Once a shape has been touched, it is voiced simply, without extraneous detail. This leaves the child to independently learn to associate meaning and purpose related to their own experience, rather than being spoon-fed items to memorize and recite. Play is then relevant as a child learns to problem-solve independently. And that makes a confident and capable learner. The subsequent worlds bring more shapes and added colors to the repertoire, and I am impressed by the addition of variance in hues. Green is not always kelly green but also comes in forest green and lime green, allowing kids to gradually broaden their perspectives and generalize the material.
Each setting comes with a map outlying the journey, and play is delivered in accordance with a child’s developmental level and attention span. There are 11 shapes seen in various displays and angles as well as colors – promoting form constancy and spatial orientation skills as well as the beginning to discriminate and classify. It would be nice in a future update to be able to move the fox at your own pace through the environments. At TWA, Highlights and Colto are one of our Favs as they always make apps that engage and invite children to explore! And with that, we give them a TWA Top Pick!
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.