Pocoyo PlaySets by HITN’s Early Learning Collaborative and Zinkia Entertainment are a supplement to any curriculum for bilingual kids or really any kid in the acquiring the ability to name and identify concepts across routines or within specific domains. This series of 15 PlaySets (as opposed to many other Pocoyo apps) address the whole child’s discovery about the world around them – labels, attributes, AND practical application of language in everyday life. The subject matter is expensive and addresses early learning concepts such as Colors and Shapes to Friendship and Feelings. Using concepts from the Ready to Learn model and experiences that are transmedia in nature, kids are immersed in the subject of interest. The graphics are spot on…and experiences that are transmedia in nature, kids are immersed in the subject of interest. The graphics are spot on…rendering an early preschooler’s movements using typical gross motor patterns. All objects and characters on screen are all placed with purpose and precision; there is no extraneous visual clutter to detract from the purpose of the app. And that is what makes Pocoyo so spectacular. It relates to children where they are at, both physically and cognitively, making an immediate connection to attend and learn. Learning is a journey a child makes with Pocoyo, as “Pocoyo is just like me”. Each app in the series carries 5 different activities displayed on the bottom of the opening screen. The play is then structured around this base and begins with the Word Machine. The Word Machine serves as a sensory anchor – being predictable in its use and function. The genius of this approach is that the focus shifts to the content as kids settle into the routine. The key vocabulary is then interspersed throughout the other activities such as games, songs, story making, etc. Under the Grown-Up gate is a stellar teacher’s guide that emphasizes what transmedia would look like in a classroom. What makes this app really rocks are the extension activities for home. This is one of the few app series that not only acknowledges the importance of parents in a child’s education but also includes everyday activities to enrich a child’s learning environment in practical life situations and that don’t cost an arm and a leg. As with all apps, check out these sections first to get the most out of their use. Let's take a look at a few of the PlaySets one may not typically see for preschoolers, so you can see for yourself. Pocoyo PlaySet My Five Senses is a great starting point. The senses are our direct links to the world and guide many of our behaviors and reactions. When we are over or under responsive to sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell or with any of our body senses, our responses are typically out of synch, placing us at risk for prolonged stress responses or even injury. When kids are out of balance and cannot organize themselves, they often have difficulty attending and retaining material. Starting at the word machine, Pocoyo not only explains all about the 5 senses but also many attributes associated with them – like there are both hard and soft textures that you feel with your hands. Pocoyo and his friends give meaning to kids experiences, and with that, he also gives kids a reference point in which to explore and take action. Other activities include Exploring the Senses; My Senses NoteBook – using drawings or pictures taken by a child. A child can then record their thoughts or practice identifying and labeling things in their journal to share later; Sense Search a visual scanning game; and the Story Maker that is in every one of the PlaySets to help little ones practice their newly acquired language. A favorite feature in all the PlaySets is the emphasis on waiting for direction and watching the model before acting. This helps reinforce good habits and builds on emerging executive functioning and social skills. In the parent’s and teacher’s section, there are a wealth of activities and extensions to explore. If your focus for the week is the 5 Senses – check it out! Let’s Move! expands on learning about the body and all its component parts. Little ones need to sort out how movement happens – top from bottom, left from right, and even more sophisticated rotational patterns that cross midline for smooth coordinated movements. This promotes independence and confidence when navigating their environments. It is also where praxis and motor planning kicks in so that kids can learn new ways to do things as well as beginning to have a plan for what they want to do. Along with the Word machine that gives words to movements, and activities; there is also the game Pocoyo Says (a Simon Says-type game); Get Moving, a board game where you identify body parts and play games using action words, i.e. kicking, throwing, and marching to name a few; and the fabulous Story Maker. The fifth activity is where one can revisit any single game in the Get Moving board game. By having kids wait in order to take action, they are better able to follow direction and imitate by watching Pocoyo model the activities. Bringing this up on a large screen or whiteboard would be a gas to play in the classroom or home. Lastly, let’s take a quick peek at the My Day Play Set. Our friend the Word Machine introduces daily routines and expectations. By establishing schedules and routines, little ones learn about temporal space, and that activities have a beginning, middle, and end. It gives rhythm and balance to our internal and external experiences – each, in fact, grounding us and at the same time providing us with feedback to try something new next time and see what happens. Rounding out the package are Puzzles; An interactive Story that separates morning, afternoon, and nighttime routines; the Story Maker, and a clock. Pocoyo Playsets are truly cutting edge, and provide a whole package experience for a minimal price. The amount of research and work that went into creating them is simply staggering. Parents, Itinerant Teachers, and Clinicians, and Pre-Schools are encouraged to take a look and see what will fit within your home or classroom. All themes carry an abundance of resources, both in the apps and at HITN’s Early Learning Collaborative web page. TWA will be exploring other modules with additional feedback from parents and teachers. A TWA Top Pick and a Highly Recommended Award Winner! 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 on 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 have been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.
Written by Jo Booth
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.