My PlayHome

Some research has shown that today’s children are less creative than previous generations, and many point their fingers at the digital era. It makes sense, to an extent. For example, a child who would have once been engaging in imaginative play with action figures and Beanie Babies is now playing with apps and video games. In a large majority of these digital games, imagination is not required; the goal is to win or earn points, and there are only a set number of ways to do so. Thankfully, I don’t think this shift is quite as terrible as some make it out to be. First, common sense parenting (and teaching and therapy) includes knowing how to provide balance–not letting kids play with an iPad every waking minute but realizing that the digital world provides some great opportunities, too. Second, that digital world is actually starting to allow more creativity on the part of the user. My PlayHome is a perfect example.

What It Is: A digital doll house by Shimon Young.

Price: $3.99

Version: 1.6.1

How It Works: The basis of the app is quite simple: it’s a dollhouse. Nearly anything you could do with a physical dollhouse (and much more) can be done here. There are currently four rooms (living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom) and a yard. You get to each room by touching the appropriate arrow (e.g. the bedroom is above the living room and the living room is next to the kitchen). There are five “dolls” to play with (Mom, Dad, baby, sister, brother). They sit in a little cloud in the upper right corner until you choose to drag them into the scene (or put them away). The details in each room (or the yard) allow for hundreds of interactive opportunities. For example, in the bathroom you could take the girl, put her in the tub, put shampoo on her head, turn the shower on to rinse off the bubbles, close the curtain, open the curtain back up, get her out of the tub, grab the towel from the rack to dry her off, and more. Pretty much everything and anything in each room is interactive.

My Therapy Applications: I do believe I have used this app with every one of my preschool clients, regardless of their goals. We have used it to work on articulation and phonological processes. We have also use it for wh-questions (“Where is the watermelon?”). I personally love using it for problem solving and reasoning skills (“Uh-oh, you left the water on. What could happen?” or “Oops, we forgot to dry the boy off when he got out of the tub. He’s still dripping wet. What can we do to fix that?”). Many expressive language goals can be addressed here, too (e.g. vocabulary, describing function of objects, explaining what the dolls are doing). I enjoy working on concepts and following directions, too (“Go upstairs and put the boy on the bottom bunk.”). Other receptive goals may also be addressed (“Find the…”). The app is great for working on sequencing (“First, we get out the toothbrush and toothpaste. Then, …”). I could easily see it being used for social story-type scenarios/schedule planning (“What I do when I wake up”).

Pros: 1. Price. I originally bought it for even less, but I would still buy it for $3.99.

2. Interactive details. As I mentioned before, nearly every object on each page is interactive. You can pour cereal and milk and orange juice and coffee, switch around CDs in the living room, water and pick carrots in the garden outside (and then feed them to the dolls), drive around the toy racecar in the bedroom, and so much more. I’ve owned this app for a couple of months, and I’m still finding new interactive parts to it. (Oh, and the sound-effects are true-to-life, as well.)

3. Imaginative play opportunities. There is no goal or point system or way to win–it’s not really a game; it’s just play.

4. Goals and objectives. As described above, it can be used for a vast number of therapy purposes with children of a variety of ages. I have also heard SLPs say they use it with adults. I would use great caution with this–you don’t want to be patronizing or demeaning. However, I can understand using it in some cases. For example, one SLP suggested using it with adults who own iPads so they can then use it with their kids or grandkids–therapy could focus on the appropriate language and skills to utilize when playing with children with this app. Another SLP suggested working on some functional skills with it and explaining that, yes, it is a children’s app, but it can be a valuable tool for getting started. I’m interested to hear other SLPs’ opinions on this.

5. Ease of use. I almost put this in the “cons” section! The kids I work with have become so accustomed to the natural feel of this app that they get irritated when another app is trickier to navigate.

Cons: 1. Not everything is exactly true to real life. For example, once a doll eats an apple, it magically reappears in its original spot. However, this can be a “pro” in a way, as it promotes imagination.

The Take-Away: This is an amazing app. If you work with children, it’s a MUST DOWNLOAD NOW. 🙂 If you work with adults, I would consider if it can be used functionally in an age-appropriate way.

My Questions for You: What goals do/could you address using this app? What age levels do you use it with? Do you think it could be appropriate for using with adults?

Looking for expert reviews of this app? Check it out on YappGuru.com!

11 thoughts on “My PlayHome

  1. Hello!
    I wanted to tell you that I just came across your blog through a Pinterst post on a Pediastaff board, and I love it! I am an SLP in Minneapolis, MN. I am a little bit of a blog and Pinterest addict, and spend way too much time surfing around looking for great sites. 🙂 So glad I found yours!
    I also finally broke down and bought myself an iPad2 (my district would not spring for one!), but I have no regrets! I use it EVERY day for therapy activities.

    I also have a blog/website if you would like to check out. I focus mostly on social/emotional communication skills, pragmatics. I was just featured on the ASHAsphere blog as one of the best SLP Blogs A-Z. Lately I have been sharing more and more about technology, apps and promoting other blogs out there. My site has been up for almost 3 years now. I just hit 1,000,000 site visits in early March! 🙂 I added your site to my blogroll right away. I follow probably 40+ speech blogs and probably another 50 teacher & technology blogs – if you want to find more sites – check out my blogroll, it is on the lower right portion of my front page. I am on Pinterest too. A gal can easily lose 6-7 hours without eating, peeing, or tending to one’s children, on Pinterest.

    Anyway, better run 🙂 Check out my site if you get a chance – I would love if you added me to your blogroll – the site is: http://jillkuzma.wordpress.com. I just added you to my Blogroll on my site.

    Thanks again for a great sharing site!

    Best wishes….Jill Kuzma

    • I know what you mean. Pinterest, Twitter, and blogs can take up so much time if (okay, when!) I let them! I justify it by rationalizing that finding out info about new iPad apps saves me therapy planning time. 🙂
      WOW, 1 million site views?! I’m impressed! I just checked it out. Looks like you have some awesome resources on there. Thanks for adding me to the blogroll. I must (sheepishly) admit that I haven’t started a blog role yet…I need to get on that. Once I do, I will definitely add yours.
      Do you have any suggestions for my blog? It seems like you’ve found the key(s) to maintaining a successful one. Let me know if you have any thoughts of things to do more of or do differently!

  2. This is the only kids app I LOVE for adults. It’s great for following direction in a functional way. I usually don’t put the characters in the scenes. The kitchen, living room, and bathroom aren’t childish. My clients can “open the fridge”, “turn off the TV”, and follow other directions that are completely functional. They can name items in the home or give me directions. This is my new go-to app for adults with aphasia, and I’m VERY picky about not using demeaning apps.

    • It’s really good to get your thoughts on this! I wasn’t totally sure at first how I felt about using it with adults. It makes sense that you wouldn’t usually need to use the characters during therapy with adults, and that probably does make it more age-appropriate.

  3. Hi again Aubrry! Thanks for checking out my site….one key to success for my blog is doing just what we are now…networking and getting to know other fellow bloggers! I have found that the more I reach out to fellow SLPs and bloggers, the more I learn, and we all kind of link our sites together, and support each other. Check out my blogroll and look for some other SLP blogs you don’t know about yet. Then, take some time to check out the site, and contact them – telling them about your site, like I did with you tonight. I try to save other blogger’s personal email addresses in my contact list, because occassionally I get promo codes, or free products to give away and I like to toss them out to my fellow blog buddies too. Good luck with your blog! I added you to my Google Reader blog subscription list, so I can up to date on all your posts! 🙂

    • Thanks, Jill! I started following your blog on WordPress, so I should get all of your new posts emailed to me. Thank you for the suggestions! I always feel a little self-conscious about self-advertising on other people’s blogs, but I’m definitely trying to reach out to other bloggers more. I’m so used to connecting on Twitter that I think I’ve put connecting via blogs on the back burner! It is definitely a good tool, though. Good luck with your blog, as well. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Farmyard! | speechie apps

  5. I finally downloaded the full version of this the other week when it was on sale and couldn’t be happier :-). It is wonderful for following directions, increasing MLU, answering wh-? and just plain fun. I also like that there is the option for including characters or not including characters which makes it a very versatile app for all age groups.

  6. Another point in favor of this app are the four families that can be used in any combination, not just the white family shown above. I use it with elementary and middle school students and you’re right, if your clients are children, it’s a must-have. Would add morphology and syntax to the uses you list.

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