Lots of educational apps for kids tout the involvement of teachers or other child-development experts, but few of them are designed only by experts. LumiKids Park is one of these apps. It’s developed by Lumos Labs, the same company who makes the Lumosity product for adults. And though there are skeptics of brain training games, the Lumos Labs team is made up of scientists who are experts in brain development. Sunita Mohanty is the director of LumiKids, a subsection of the Lumos Labs team that is focused entirely on early-childhood development.
“As children increasingly spend more and more time on mobile devices, parents are looking for fun and developmentally-appropriate activities,” says Mohanty. “We’ve learned a great deal about creating research-based tools and technology, and we’re excited to be able to bring that expertise to an audience of growing minds.”
The LumiKids team used more than 200 hours of research in the development of core skills to guide them in the creation of LumiKids Park. Even with all of that science behind it, an app for a preschooler can only be successful if it’s fun. Luckily, LumiKids Park is lots of fun. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the app is completely free.
Gameplay in LumiKids Park
The skills LumiKids Park focuses on are: sorting, visual motor coordination (hand-eye coordination), and attention. Each skill has a corresponding mini-game in the app. The games are set within a “park” that includes various interactive objects in the environment. For example you can tap on a dog to make him bark or tap on a rain cloud to make it rain in a small area. The games are placed in between these elements and have a yellow asterisk above them so you know they’re games.
The sorting game involves dragging little amoeba-like creatures into larger items by matching up the shape, color, or size. This game starts out fairly simply; all the creatures are the same color and shape as the larger item. But the game changes the rules periodically to make you think. For example, you might have a creature that’s the same shape as the larger item, but the larger item is a different color. There’s never a prompt to let you know this change is coming. You just have to figure it out for yourself.
The visual motor coordination game involves moving a flying creature around the screen and making him eat little pellets of a the same color. As in the sorting game, things are changed up periodically. For example, there might be a big “x” in the screen that you need to avoid, or you might need to control two creatures of different colors and navigate them around each other.
The attention game involves watching cute little kids run and hide behind playground bouncers. You need to remember which bouncer they hid under and tap it. Then they’ll run to another one. This game changes things up by increasing the number of kids who run around and the number of bouncers they can hide behind. All of the games are super cute, but the attention game is my favorite. The giggling of the kids reminds me of what Ana sounds like when she’s being tickled. It always makes me smile.
LumiKids Park for Parents
Almost all kid’s apps have a section for parents. In most, you can read about the company who made the app. In some cases, you can change some options. LumiKids Park goes further than the basics. In the “Grown-Up Corner” of LumiKids Park, you have the option to create an account with an email address. If you choose to do this, you’ll get an email once a week. This email details what your child did in the app and which core skill the activity corresponds to. Additionally, the emails contain general information about how playing games can help in brain development.
Everything about this app is great, including the price. LumiKids Park is completely free. There are no in-app purchases or pay walls. Lumos Labs plans to develop a series of apps for LumiKids. Those may cost something, but this first app will remain free. It serves as a preview of the kind of content that will come in the future.
I really cannot recommend this app more. It’s got a solid background in science, it offers parents a way to see what their kids are doing in the app, it’s super cute and fun, and finally, it’s completely free. I’m still amazed at how much you can get out of this app for no cost. There’s no risk in downloading it, so you really should.