See the world with Pico the Penguin by Petita Demas Ltd! This little app for the toddler/preschool set packs in some entertaining animal adventures and beginning world awareness. It also begins teaching about healthy habits and taking care of your body. Pico is a penguin who lives in cold and chilly Antarctica. One day he “thinks the unthinkable” and sets off to travel the world. And like Mary Poppins, he opens his umbrella and travels on the winds to new lands. But good golly he forgot! There is no place as cold and frozen as home. He soon discovers the different lands are very hot, and with the help of others, he learns how to stay cool.
On opening, choose an animal you’d like to visit. Seven animal friends await your arrival, Renne the Rhino, Elliott the Elephant, Kenny the Kangaroo, Carmen the Camel, a spider, flamingo, and an orangutan. The secured information section has the names and tips for three of the animals (Carmen the Camel was found on the website). By making a game of naming the other three animals, it will give kids an investment in the process of playing and a chance for teachers or therapists to ask questions or interact. Most of the continents have an animal paired with that region with the exception of Europe. Choice of animals is not in any particular order, so a child can start selecting any animal that appeals to them. As there are no written directions for helping Pico cool off once he visits a friend, you might want to play the app first to learn the demands of the tasks before engaging a toddler or early preschooler in play and where you might need to help fill in the blanks.
Looking at a few of the animals and their methods for keeping cool, let’s see what skills are involved and what lessons are learned. I love the fact that Petita Demas Ltd has used the animals from other lands as a way of introducing cultural diversity and that we can learn new ways of doing things from others. In the desert with Carmen the Camel, little ones learn to drag and drop, isolating index fingers to point or make use of a stylus. Since Carmen lives in the sands of the desert, we learn about wearing a hat and sunglasses and to protect our skin with sunscreen. Once Pico has loaded up on these essentials, it is time to PARTAY! The music used as a reinforcer for completing the tasks is priceless, and you can’t help but smile. This is also a time to point out…” see the thermometer is down, that means Pico is cooler”, and look for other things to compare and contrast with the environment shown vs. home. Elliot the Elephant can really hold some water in his trunk, and to cool off Pico needs a steady spraying. Here kids learn to tap in succession to keep an action going. If they should try to hold and engage, Pico doesn’t get the steady spray he needs. The Flamingos of South America initially threw me for a loop with how best to shade Pico - (The app does provide a white dot for gentle prompting initially or if you were to get stuck). The Flamingos teach dragging and dropping to a specific target which is a little more precise than merely dragging and dropping as on visiting Carmen the Camel.
My wish list would be to have Europe represented with an animal and to perhaps have a sidebar with information about a particular animal and its habitat that children could access. I do like that this app has many opportunities for teaching in so many areas of early learning, and it is short enough to hold little attention spans. Going to the zoo, or the library to find books on orangutans or spiders is an easy extension for the app, or walking on a dewy morning and finding a spider web glistening in the sun is an adventure in itself. When we see what others do, even a little penguin trying to stay cool, we learn about taking care of ourselves and listening to the opportunities that others may offer. Learning respect for others needs to be taught early – and it can start with a little penguin named Pico.
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 every day; so that "her kids" grow up to be healthy independent learners.