The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Shapes and Colors by StoryToys is gentle, enchanting, and elegant. Continuing with Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar as the main character, StoryToys has now increased the demands of play and expectations on little learners, while still keeping the awe and wonder of discovery as they have with the other apps in the series. The artwork is outstanding, and something that StoryToys excels at producing with each and every app. It is rich and delicious, but not so busy or cluttered that kids go on visual overload and can’t complete the given task.
Play centers on 6 learning centers: basic shapes, colors, scale, patterns, advanced shape challenges, and Tangrams. One can either allow the flow of activities to organically evolve or select from a menu. If choosing to have the activities evolve with play, each of the tasks segues flawlessly from one section to the next. They slowly build on past competencies, and challenges blend into a harmonious flow of activity that is neither too fast nor too slow in its execution. Each category also capitalizes on the play patterns and progression of a child’s natural play. Correct responses give one a harmonic sound that centers a child’s attention and helps with self-regulation through the use of pacing the response time. Clinically, this facilitates core activation through synching slow deep breaths during play. I have yet to have a child who has not benefited from this app, as most kids settle, center and focus when playing. Before going into the details of each section, I also wanted to add that this is an app perfect for grading activities up or down within a clinic setting, depending on the goal of therapy. Because of its appeal and the focus on independent play and discovery, kids can play this app when needing to be positioned for instance on their bellies, kneeling, or standing. Often the use of apps that may be a low demand for a child’s cognitive level is the very solution when placing demands of hard or difficult postures to attain. Many children have a decreased relationship with gravity which translates to poor fine motor skills or visual attention because of lack of belly time. Belly time is essential for proper hand development as well as learning to visually target and focus. Using apps to teach extending attention to task is a great way to begin sequencing the skills to everyday play.
Here are sneak peeks into the activities of The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Shapes and Colors:
• Basic Shapes begins with simple shape matching and then gradually adds more components and attributes. The hungry caterpillar sits quietly and adds the dimension of patience, self-regulation, and then models the beginnings of joint and shared attention to tasks.
• Color and Shade introduces the nuances of color in all sorts of activities. If you look closely, the caterpillar will visually cue a child into what to pick.
• Scale introduces comparative measures and enlists a child’s help in building bridges of objects in accordance with their size so that the hungry caterpillar can reach his tasty treats or play with objects.
• Advanced Shapes brings into play executive functioning skills by working with memory, anticipatory responses (waiting), and inhibition (impulse control – by having a train roll by with shapes on boxcars, which then must be dragged and dropped on a revolving board.
• Patterns contain ABAB, ABCABC, ABBA and so on, of the caterpillar’s treats to complete, eat, and even play games of peek-a-boo.
• Lastly are the Tangrams, which help teach kids complex spatial constructs and the beginnings of praxis or motor planning. And that is the origins to not only how we conduct ourselves, but also how the world works.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Shapes and Colors has proved popular with the preschool set and is one of my chief GoTo apps. The added benefits of teaching self-modulation and its overall calming effects in play have been just amazing. Kids that I would never have expected to be able to attend to an app or toy have readily responded to its gentle flow of activity as the challenges gradually build to always remain in the “just right challenge” category. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Shapes and Colors by Story Toys is a must-have for preschool-K teachers, therapists, and parents. 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.