Based on Piaget’s research on cognitive development, this app systematically teaches kids to go beyond cause and effect play. It bridges that gap from being reactive to being proactive in relating to their environment. Playing with this app this week, I found it to be such a privilege to observe the varied way kids form constructs about their world and how they test and adapt their responses. Gameplay is simple, and basically, it is to match and sink a shape into its corresponding hole.
There are six different levels to Busy Shapes; each level is built out of the foundation of the previous level. There are several possibilities to completing a task within each of the six levels. Kids test out shapes, colors, size, velocity and how to first work around obstacles. Learning is organic and organized as kids begin to expand their scope and view of what is possible.
It all begins with one shape and one hole, and progresses in the early levels by learning to avoid small obstacles. Subsequent levels have increasingly complex obstacles such as puddles, hidden objects, and having your path blocked so that you must use an alternative route. This teaches openness and flexibility as well as needing to have a good plan of action. Each level has its own unique challenges, and once competency is established, the demands for reasoning are increased. Tools are introduced in the fifth level, and it was really insightful how each child discovered and used the tools. Through experimentation, you learn to combine strategies to sink your shape. Ultimately you get to the place where everything is a tool and you are constantly scanning and alerting to changes in play, and then making needed adaptations. I really like how in the sixth level the shapes begin to have horizontal movement, and think that Seven Academy should be applauded for helping children to practice scanning horizontally. This eases that transition of visually crossing midline in preparation for reading and writing. This app teaches children how to think and be independent problem solvers. It fosters creativity and “thinking outside of the box”. If you make an error, you simply start that play screen again with a different approach. There is no judgment or buzzers placed in this app for failure to sink your shape, and therefore teaches kids perseverance and to have the confidence to try another approach.
As you can see the graphics are lush and rich with texture. It is so visually appealing, that it is hard to stop playing! The sound effects complement the action rather than compete with it, so focus remains on the task.
I would heartily recommend this app, and now consider it essential for all preschool teachers and clinicians to own and use. It is a great assessment tool in finding out how kids think and problem solve, as well as where they get “stuck”. This is one app that can help you nourish that spark in the beginning learner, and make them a lifelong learner.
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.