Lots of apps for preschoolers are educational. Just by playing them, you can tell exactly what they’re trying to teach your child. Those apps are great. But it doesn’t always have to be about learning. Kids need to have fun too. The apps I’ve decided to talk about in this installment of Ana’s Apps aren’t overtly educational; they’re more about having fun. A couple of apps from Sago Mini are the focus here. Specifically, Sago Mini Monsters and Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer, because these were some the first apps my daughter latched onto when she started playing on the iPad.
Sago Mini Monsters
Sago Mini Monsters is a fairly simple app that’s a lot like a dress-up doll, only with monsters. At the beginning of the game, you see a pool of green goop with a head poking up. You swipe to bring the head up out of the goo and to see the basic shape and color of your monster. At this point, you can color on the monster any way you want. You can give him dots, stripes, or anything else you can think of. My daughter usually just scribbles on him a bit before hitting the check mark. Once you hit the check mark, your monster reveals his facial features, which usually include some silly eyes, a mouth, and, in some cases, horns.
At this point various objects come up out of the goop. You feed these things to the monster. There are some basic foods in this array, including pizza and spaghetti with meatballs. But there also some not-so-palatable things like banana peels or even dirty boots. The monster will eat all of these things. I guess monsters aren’t very picky about what they eat. After they’re done eating, their once-pearly white teeth have turned an unhealthy gray. A toothbrush appears and you have to brush the monster’s teeth so they go back to their original bright-white shade.
Once the monster’s teeth have been brushed, decorations will appear in the goo. You can drag these things onto your monster wherever you want. Hats, flowers, band-aids, bow ties, stars, and flowers are all available to stick on your monster. You can keep decorating as long as you want to. Once you’re finished, you can hit the camera icon, which will show you a quick Polaroid-style picture of your monster. (Don’t worry. These pictures aren’t saved on your device.) Or you can simply hit the check mark. At this point a kid will yell “boo” and the frightened monster will retreat back down into the green pool. Then, a different monster head will pop up and you can do the whole thing over again.
This is one of the apps my daughter comes back to frequently. She thinks feeding the monster yucky stuff is really funny, and of course all preschoolers love to hear burps!
Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer
Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer is an exploration app where you control a little fish as he swims around the sea. You steer the fish with your finger and you can take him anywhere you want. There are lots of things spread through the ocean that the fish can interact with simply by swimming near them. There are also special interactions that can happen when the fish stops on a pulsing yellow sun. These more detailed animations range from the fish playing in a fish band to swimming away from a shark that gets stuck inside a hole of coral. Some of the interactions involve some potty humor. For example, you can have the fish eat a bunch of multi-colored plants and then watch as the same colors come out in bubbles behind the fish.
The great thing about this app is that there are so many things to discover. It took my daughter a little while to get the hang of letting go of the fish over the yellow suns so she could watch the little animation, but once she got it, she started looking for the animations everywhere. Her favorite one is when the fish goes down into a dark cave and discovers a surprise birthday party waiting for him. Although that could just be her favorite because she’s eagerly awaiting her own birthday party.
Sago Mini Monsters and Ocean Swimmer can cost up to $2.99 depending on your platform. It’s important to note that on the start screen for each of these apps, there will be an ad for more Sago Mini products (toys and other apps) in the lower-right corner. They are not obtrusive and are definitely not positioned in a way to really get kids to click on them. For that reason, I don’t have a problem with them.
Overall Sago Mini seems to make great apps for kids. As noted before, there lots of Sago Mini apps available and we’ll likely take a look at those in a future installment.