Jobi’s Bistro by Yellaphant is the third in a series of role-playing games for early learners in different occupations. This time kids get to put on your chef’s hat and jacket, and get cooking! The app allows for open exploration of the inner workings of a bistro, from cooking up fine meals that even an iron chef would envy to washing the dishes. There are two floors at the restaurant and something can be learned on each floor through a series of mini games.
On opening, the door to the bistro you are greeted by the hostess who offers up trying out your skills as a cupcake decorator or running the cash register. In cupcake decorator, kids get to mix and match flavor combinations of toppings, frosting, cake and whether you want sprinkles on the cupcakes to sell at the counter. The “The paying for taking out at the cash register game” may be a little hard for little ones as kids are to calculate change with high place values, and it is something that many early learners have not been exposed to necessarily, but it would provide the opportunity to work on subtraction via a calculator or other manipulatives – be it play money, chips or objects.
Be sure to sign off on the chalkboard before heading upstairs to the main kitchen so everyone knows who is cooking now! Upstairs, Chef and Sous Chef await your arrival and expertise in getting many of the meals prepared. Graphics are cute, and the characters react in typical Jobi-ish humor. There are 6 games to be found upstairs plus a rewarding round of adding earned coins to a bank in order to buy pictures for a scrapbook. Coins earned are intermittent and this may be confusing for some kids, as some work is valued and other jobs seem not to be acknowledged. One of the most important tasks – washing the dishes is not. As a mother first, I want to instill in my kids and all kids for that matter is that tasks have a definite beginning middle and end. And the end is cleaning up after yourself and becoming a responsible and considerate co-worker.
I love the cooking games, and with a tap of the oven the cheerful chef and sous chef list the ingredients, and off to the larder, you go to fetch them. Auditory working memory is challenged amidst a complex visual background, but the app is forgiving in that if an item is not remembered and kids can go back to listen to the list and try again. It would be fun to see the finished meal and at least get to taste it, as that is something Chef’s do. The quick fry teaches visual discrimination of pulling your food out before it's burned, and as with the cleanup game of washing dishes, it seems to go in a sequenced loop – and this does get a wee bit confusing as to when you are done with a task.
You can take a break with the post game, where falling pots are collected, the utensil matching game, or slice vegetables. Filling the canning jars with your favorite pickles, sauces, or jams reveals the fractions and plays with the parts to a whole concept. Kids may not be developmentally ready for this, but it is interesting to play around with seeing how partial fills are related to the visual of filling the whole jar. Fractions are reduced, but after the jars have passed through the fill station. I would love it if the reduced fraction stayed at the filling portion of the app so kids could begin to form a mental imagery of this for later learning.
While I really enjoyed playing Jobi’s Bistro, and feel it leads to valuable practical life experiences off screen. I felt the app could be stronger with the following recommendations:
- Have a setting – that is also child directed to turn off the music and minimize the repetition of certain words or phrases – such as the repetition of “Jobi Jobi”. This way kids can control the level of input they are receiving.
- Offer rewards more consistently.
- Have a definite beginning and ending to the mini games. This would improve visual focus, attention, and task completion.
- Allow for seeing the finished product when cooking and have a patron eat it!