I am always excited when I get the opportunity to review an app developed by Disney because they have a commitment to quality that is second to none. In keeping with this tradition, Pooh’s Birthday Surprise doesn’t disappoint.
Few characters are as classic and recognized as Winnie the Pooh which makes this app feel timeless and special.
Teaching toddlers requires a special kind of patience and skill, with the right amount of instruction and encouragement. The developers at Disney have perfected this formula and applied it to this app. Targeted at children ages 3 to 5, this app takes a simple storybook and turns it into a learning opportunity.
While the narrator reads the story, mini-games and animations invite children to participate while teaching and reinforcing a variety of skills. In one instance, children need to match cupcakes of a similar size. In another, they are asked to review a selection of party hats and then choose the next hat in the series based on the color patterns.
One of the greatest features of the app is that the mini-games repeat themselves (with updated content). If your child chooses the correct set of balloons for Eeyore that match the others, the balloon colors all reset and they can do it again. Repeating these games with fresh content each time lets you determine whether your child is really learning. This kind of reinforcement allows us as parents to work with our children on skills they may be having some difficulty with (or to allow us to repeat tasks that they are enjoying and succeeding at). Finished playing the games? Just turn the virtual page and move on.
Some exercises are more for fun than anything, though they will still help to teach your child to listen and follow directions. On several pages, the narrator or on-screen visual cues (like a swirling arrow) will invite your child to shake the screen to make confetti fly or twirl a honey pot to see the bees fly out.
From the in-app menu, you can choose individual pages allowing you to return to mini-games or parts of the story you and your child loved best without having to start from scratch. Want a few tips on how best to use this app to work with your child? Disney has thought of that too and included a tips section for parents in the app itself.
What I liked: The thing I liked best about this app may sound a bit unusual to describe, but I like that the interface moves slowly. While each interaction is very responsive, things don’t move too quickly when tapped. This is critical with little people because they get very confused when animations or games are interrupted by the slightest tap on the screen.
What I didn’t like: I found the narration to be slightly choppy. Children certainly wouldn’t notice, but it kind of disrupted the flow of the story for me.
To buy or not to buy: This app is worth every single penny of the purchase price. Every time you open it, you will discover new hidden treasures and the experience will feel customized to you and your child.
- App Name: Pooh’s Birthday Surprise
- Version Reviewed: 1.0
- Category: Education
- Developer: Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications
- Price: $4.99