Mellow Mummy: Orchard Toys 3-in-1 App Review : Taking life as it comes...

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Orchard Toys 3-in-1 App Review

Gosh, it feels like a lifetime since I last reviewed a kid's app! Orchard Toys, home to some of our most treasured kids games and jigsaws have just launched their first iOS app for iPhone and iPad and Holly has been trying it out. The app features 3 games in 1 app - Matching pairs, jigsaw puzzles and colour/shape sorting.

In our house we own a fair few Orchard Toys games and puzzles so Holly instantly recognised most of the characters in the app. From the iconic red dog, blue dog, through to the cakes from Where's My Cupcake, you'll find lots of familiar illustrations hiding among the different elements of this kids app which gave it instant appeal to Holly. I would say that, over the past couple of weeks, the Orchard Toys app has been the only app Holly has chosen to play with. Even her older sister is attracted by the familiar characters (even though she is now, aged 6, far too old for most of the games in the 3-in-1 app).

Each game has different difficulty levels so you can tailor the experience to your child's level. In the iTunes app store, the Orchard Toys game is rated for children from age 4 upwards but I would say that I would be happy to introduce it from 2 upwards. There are no in-app purchases or advertising so there is no distraction or temptation, just simple games that practice basic skills such as sorting, matching and remembering.

In fact, at 3 years old, I think that much of the app is actually a bit too easy for Holly, even in hard mode.  I do keep reminding myself that Holly is very advanced for her age but, even so, I think that the matching pairs and jigsaws in easy mode are suitable for a much younger child to practice simple app skills.  I'm worried that the game will quickly cease to provide enough to interest Holly.  The jigsaw game has so many wonderful pictures with lots of different themes, but they are just too easy for Holly to want to explore more than one or two.

We like Dotty Dinosaurs the board and counter game from Orchard Toys and so Holly very much enjoys playing the same game in the app (it saves us having to find all of the small counters which have a habit of disappearing under the sofa).  This game allows you to match coloured dots, shaped counters or patterned counters with those on the dinosaur's back.  The different levels have different numbers and ranges of things to match.  This is a great example of the Orchard Toys app building upon a pre-existing game idea and adding a little more depth and variety.

Whenever your child gets something right in the app, a little fanfare is played.  If they get something wrong, a cheeky character will commiserate with you!  Lara seems to enjoy this, but interestingly, her younger sister gets frustrated at the interlude and just wants to be moving quickly onto the next task without having to wait for a yay or a nay!  She is an impatient one, that one.

I think that the Orchard Toys 3-in-1 app is a wonderful introduction to the iPad for a toddler to learn key skills and I'll admit that it is cheaper (it currently costs only 99p), and more convenient that buying all of the equivalent board games.  However, there is a little part of me that feels that actually the girls get a lot more out of playing with the physical counters and pieces of the "real" games.  Is that wrong of me?
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