Fasten your seat belts and check to see if you remembered to fire up the turbo boosts! Then put the petal to the metal in your own customized car and cruise Pepi Island. Pepi Play has a winner with Pepi Ride for kids 3-7 years old. Built to encourage creativity, it also prods kids to think through and problem-solve how to get around obstacles on their way around the island. Nine different courses await you, and each spot gets increasingly more challenging to navigate. There are lava fields, castle grounds, and treacherous mountain passes. Go forward, go back, jump, or turbo power your way through, the road is ripe for experimentation.
Gameplay begins with customizing your own car. Every time you restart the game you have a fresh chance to specialize another car. There are four cars to choose from, each with their own unique driver. Choose your driver – a boy, girl, gorilla or dog, from there you can paint the car any color you would like with art features of a spray can, paint brush or pencil. The pencil means you can write on the car! Each delivers a different artistic vibe…or you can opt out and just have the color of the vehicle as is. It is great that Pepi Play left this as a choice for kids, especially ones that are more intimidated with on the spot decisions or making color choices. When working with kids, you can always choose to encourage those aspects…especially if they are non-preferred, later as a child gets acclimated to the sequence of play or feels more comfortable with venturing out and making choices. Modeling design decisions and then saying “Your turn” or “Help me out here, I can’t decide between the shark or rocket turbo” …. “What do you think?” are all ways to get a kid engaged.
Once your car is set, hit the accelerator and you are off! Many of the challenges have you moving forward and/or backward in order to collect the 3 gifts set on course. The collection of gifts somewhat confused me as I thought I had won something, and I would rather see earning stars or another traditional icon for achievement. Direction, speed and velocity are important functions to learn and experiment with in the safe environment of a game. The dashboard of Pepi Ride contains a jump feature, a speedometer, and a backward and forward accelerator. You do need to gauge your speed, to make it through a course – too slow and you might not make it up a hill, and too fast can send you reeling in midair and crash. The jump button can help you jump lakes and mountain passes, whereas without its use your car is slowed down.
In summary, this is a fun and reinforcing app for learning about general physics and the ability to use force, whether it’s direction, acceleration, or velocity. It also helps in achieving short term goals that can add up to completing a game. By achieving benchmarks throughout the game, kids can then see progress, and feel confident about their achievement. And confident learners are ones that are persistent or lifelong learners.
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play everyday; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.