Mini-U: The Kitchen, by Popapp Factory, is a novel retro designed app that works on visual perception, beginning iPad skills and basic preschool abilities through everyday routines in the kitchen. Matching, sorting, color recognition, and the ability to process both visual and auditory input is presented within 6 mini-games:
Italian Chef is a form constancy game with a twist. Form constancy is what lets you know that your dresser in a darkened room is really your dresser and not some monster that has come for you. After matching pasta to their respective shadows, you then need to color them with the given food dyes. This takes planning and precision, and the younger ones that I played with, needed some help with how to strategically add and match the color.
Breakfast Composer - In this game, you need to scroll through items to match the breakfast tray. It is not as easy as it looks. Scrolling through the kitchen items is a great way to introduce new vocabulary words and their functions. Games, such as these, help sharpen visual discrimination skills and learning about everyday items in a child’s world. This would be a fun thing to do with Mom or Dad - by going on a culinary treasure hunt in your own kitchen when making something to eat for breakfast!
Morning Tunes is a music generator, where the child is in control of the input. Sizzle a frying pan and play the spoons, and learn about rhythm and sound. This is also a great way for sensory sensitive kids to learn to desensitize to a broad range of sounds in their environment, as they can control the input.
Product Sorter is a fun game to help kids that mouth items learn to differentiate edible items – and this is one of the few apps that I have seen address this issue. It is also an easy-squeezy mini game for kids in the know...and helps to build their confidence by being successful.
Cocktail Maker/Blender - In the Cocktail Maker, you are asked to mix 2 foods in the blender to come up with the exact color to your smoothie or drink. I would prefer the game be called “The Smoothie Maker” rather than “The Cocktail Maker” – but I love the graphics and how fun that little blender is for young kids. Mixing colors gets the little ones thinking…and I love how it encourages experimentation for color play.
Fridge Operator is absolutely wonderful for visual discrimination and forms constancy training which is needed as a precursor in learning to read and write. Kids must match food related items to the fridge. There are a lot of red herrings thrown in their paths and only the cleverest observer can distinguish between a party hat and a slice of watermelon. The shapes are the same…but does that party hat really go in the fridge?
- Works on early visual perceptual skills
- Addresses problem solving and critical thinking skills
- Material Presented is within typical family routines
- Easy to translate to real life activities for off-screen family fun
- Basic preschool skills of color mixing, item recognition, matching, sorting, planning, and tolerating visual and auditory input are presented
In summary Mini-U: Kitchen is a fun app for early learners, ages 3-7. Particularly beneficial for children with difficulty processing and tolerating both visual and auditory input as well as allowing picky eaters to initially interact or play with food. Many of the mini-games can be translated off-screen for family fun, to help reinforce concepts. The kids I have tested it with really seemed to enjoy it – and that’s the best testament of all!
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.