What do you get when you cross a virtual erector set with old fashioned Colorforms? ShapeKit, of course…It’s a brand new app by KidKit. Beautifully simple in its execution of play; it contains infinite possibilities to be creative and explore shapes, colors, and the dynamics of motion. The play is kid-driven, and once the dynamics of play are mastered kids are able to set loose in this open environment. In ShapeKit, you build it and then are given the tools to animate it. Once done you can share your creation…for further play or share it with others, under an adult protected and driven swipe screen. The included tutorial is invaluable, and I would suggest sitting down with it a time or two to play it out before playing it with a child. All the controls and dynamics are intuitive, but it will help keep you from hogging the screen when playing with a child for the first time. One of the nice features from the Gallery is the ability to save a picture as a template to copy and get the core skills down on taking basic shapes and combining them into making something incredible. Using basic tangram designs as a model can also jumpstart creativity and builds on visual perceptual skills such as orientation, form constancy, relative size, and spatial relations of objects. By being able to discriminate these distinctions, it helps lay the foundation for future visual motor skills, and the ability to visualize possibilities from raw materials. The opening screen displays projects that you are currently working on or the chance to Make, Learn or Exhibit. In the “Make” screen, select your shape, then get busy with adding shapes, adjusting them by sizing or rotating them, connecting a joint in which to move shapes, or adding details. When selecting a shape, it is identified by its name and gives the characteristics of the shape – “An equilateral triangle has 3 equal sides”. On the selection page, you can adjust color and size and if you wish or do so later. You may need to move back and forth from edit and play to adjust and fine tune what you are creating, especially if adding moving parts. This is why going through the tutorial is so important, and you may initially find yourself tapping in and out of the tutorial for further tips. In Make, is also the chance to personalize the shapes by adding eyes and animated features to its final design as well as changing the background color. I do wish there was a little drawing feature for adding things like smiles or eyebrows that are a little hard to place within a shape. The play screen allows for experimentation with rotation and moving a drawing if you added joints. Each joint can swing in motion led through by your direction. Two joints are allowed per shape, so using the joining and connecting features may give you more options in creating your object. Knowing and playing with this feature gives way to animating and recording once you are done with a design. The animation really rocks, and what sets ShapeKit apart from the pack. Plan out your design screen by screen to see how it may look, and whether you want to add more or remove something. The app provides reference points to the last part of the clip, so making smooth transitions is a snap! The developers have really thought of everything for making this app as easy as possible for kids to flex their creative muscles. Once a child is capable the app can be independently used by a child. It can be used with a parent or teacher in the initial stages of learning about basic shapes and how to use all the features fully. Older kids needing to experiment with form, color, and movement will gain newly found competencies and learn how to stretch their imaginations. As best said by the developer, “ShapeKit is a creative tool for learning about shapes and visualizing your imagination. Play with shapes, build them into characters, and bring them to life through animation”. This app is a keeper! Highly Recommended.
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.
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