Toca Tea Party is one of my favorite Toca Boca apps, particularly because it involves a natural social component. I have found that the Toca Boca apps can usually be used in numerous ways. I’ll share some of the ways I’ve used it, and then I’d love for you to share what you’ve done with it!
What It Is: A pretend tea party app by Toca Boca.
How It Works: The game has two main parts: setting up the party table and actually having the tea party. (There is also a brief clean-up at the end.) The set-up involves the user choosing the types of tablecloth, plates, drinks, and desserts. The actual party has refills of the chosen foods and beverages for the user to eat and drink. There are also a couple of extra interactive features, such as the possibility of spilling (and then cleaning up) a drink or lighting candles. After the last food item has been eaten, the place settings may be dragged one-by-one or dumped (by tipping the iPad up) into a sink of water and bubbles.
My Therapy Applications: I have used this game for a number of objectives with my preschool clients. (I could also see it being used with early elementary.) As I mentioned before, one of my favorite things about the app is the natural social component. Tea parties are meant to be played with other people (or stuffed animals or imaginary friends or whatnot), which means it easily facilitates certain goals. For example, assuming the child is in control of passing out the plates/food/drinks, the child either needs to ask appropriate questions (“What kind of drink do you like?”) or use theory of mind (“What would he/she want?”) to figure out what to give the other person. During question asking, it is easy to address other social/assertiveness goals such as eye contact, turn-taking, appropriate volume, and getting someone’s attention appropriately. For example, I work with a 5-year-old girl who has difficulty being assertive, making eye contact, speaking loudly enough to be heard, and figuring out how to let a person know she is trying to say something to them. We have worked on each of these things using this app and then slowly brought them together to practice all of them at once. (I’m happy to say she has made excellent progress!) Another objective, which I have also worked on with the same girl, could be making decisions.
There are some basic problem-solving/reasoning skills involved in this (e.g. “If I get the chocolate cake, maybe she should get a cookie instead of another cake.”) as well as cause-effect relationships (e.g. “I spilled the tea, so now I need to clean it up.”). Following directions (one-step or multi-step) is also easy to address using this app and goes hand-in-hand with teaching basic concepts (e.g. “First put the green cup by the top plate and then put the one with the flowers by your plate.”).
Pros: 1. Price. $1.99 for such a versatile app is a good bargain.
2. Visual cues throughout. This can aid the child if he/she is struggling to problem-solve/reason what to do next. For example, it shows a picture of a tissue after a drink has spilled.
2. Versatility. There are just so many goals/objectives that can be addressed using this app.
3. Ease of use. It is set up in a very “common-sense” way so even young users catch on quite quickly.
4. Social components. As I’ve mentioned a couple times now, it’s much more fun to play this game with others (real or imaginary), which is something many apps are lacking.
5. It has passed the kid test–it’s one of the favorites among my clients.
Cons: 1. I wish there were some settings options. For example, it would be nice to be able to turn off the visual cues for my clients that are trying to work on problem-solving/reasoning/cause-effect relationships without the help of cues.
2. It could use a few more interactive features to keep things fresh. The drinks spilling is a fun surprise…I wish there were a couple more things like that.
3. Not available for iPhone. 😦
The Take-Away: Great app for teaching a wide variety of skills. Definitely worth purchasing if you work with the preschool or early elementary age groups.
My Questions for You: What age groups do you use this app with? What are some ways that you use the app?
Looking for expert reviews of this app? Check it out on YappGuru.com!