As a parent, I’d love to know what my kids are experiencing at school. But not every kid is talkative. My six-year-old Philip, for example, is less of a storyteller when compared to his younger brother. It’s difficult for him to tell me about the things that happen to him at school.
I’m glad that Toca Boca finally released Toca Life: School. It’s a storytelling app that lets your kids imagine, experiment, and show what they have or might experience in school. It has five locations: home, school, cafeteria, playground, and the youth club.
The School Life
Toca Life: School has no rule about how you should play. It’s more of a digital toy in that you decide what to do with them. You can start your stories from anywhere, for example, at school or at home. You can pick just one location and explore it thoroughly or alternatively, expand your story to a different location. Each location in Toca Life: School is quite large — you can drag from one side to the other to explore it.
The app includes 32 characters that include both humans and animals. Each character can hold smaller objects, sit, sleep, and even poop. They can also eat the different food found throughout the app.
One thing to note is that characters can’t be omnipresent. If you move them from one location to the next, the app will remember their new location. To move a character, simply tap on the yellow people sign at the bottom right corner of the screen. You can either invite a character in or send a character out.
You can also dress the characters in a way that suits your story. Simply drag a piece of clothing onto a character, and that character will wear it. You can also apply accessories, such as glasses and hats.
Toca Life apps aren’t just about the character — they’re also about designing the interiors. Each location has hundreds of items that can be moved around to fit your story. This encourages kids to pay more attention to details and to start imagining how they’d like to see the world around them. It’s about making the world more personal and relevant to them.
If you want to get the most out of Toca Life apps, you must experiment with everything. For example, you can refill water from the kitchen tap. Try to set the fire alarm in the school and see what would happen.
Just remember that the trash can is like the black hole. Anything you put in there never returns. If you really want to go back, you can always hit the blue reset button at the top right corner of the main map screen. This will reset the app to its initial settings.
Parents Need to Know
Toca Life: School is the third app in the Toca Life series. Building on the success, best practices, lessons learned, and tens of thousands of parents’ feedback, Toca Life: School brings the best of Toca Life: Town and Toca Life: City into the school environment and extends it with a few new features of its own.
You can always try the interactions previously available in the prequel apps, such as turning the lights on or off, playing with the window shades, stacking clothes, and opening all the cupboards to find additional items. Additionally, you can explore what the new app has to offer.
For example, if Toca Life: City introduces you to pets then Toca Life: School lets you put one special pet on top of your head and wear it as a hat. If the recent update to Toca Life: City allows you to explore a new section — i.e. the Theatre — then Toca Life: School allows you to set up the personnels of your own musical band. And even though I’ve received no words from the team at Toca Boca about their future plans, I’m pretty sure they’d add a new section to this app like they did to the prequels.
The development team also included the Toca Life Weekly newsletter inside the app. If you have an Internet connection, you can access it from the main menu. This newsletter is also accessible from within the Toca Life: City since its recent update, and is mainly there to inspire you with what other people have created with the Toca Life series of apps.
Toca Life: School does not include any third-party ads, in-app purchases, or links to social networks. If you turn on your Internet connection, you can read the Designer’s notes and access the Toca Life Weekly newsletter from within the app.
Things I Like
There are plenty of things to like in Toca Life: School. The first and foremost is its in-app recording feature. I’m glad that it’s included in this app from the start, after the development team included it in the recent update to Toca Life: City. It really highlights the intuitiveness and versatility of the app when it comes to kids imagining and creating their own stories.
The other thing that I really like from the Toca Life series is the (almost) endless combinations of things you can do in the apps. Toca Life: School brings new interactions, such as writing on the whiteboard and experimenting with the different liquid mix in the chemistry lab.
As always, Toca Life: School also includes the great attention to details expected from Toca Boca apps. For example, just try going into the youth club. You’d find several Halloween-themed masks that you can put on the characters to give them new looks. And if you put on the musical instruments, you’d learn that the music would fade away as you’re moving farther away from the source of music.
Toca Life: School expands all the great things found in Toca Life: Town and Toca Life: City, and brings them to the second place where kids ages 4+ spend their time most, i.e. their school. The in-app recording feature really helps to highlight the best use case from the Toca Life series. I think the Toca Life series is the most versatile storytelling tools available for kids, and I’m really looking forward for the next app in this series.
And if you have the prequels, I’d suggest you download the new updates if you haven’t already. Toca Boca did a really good job with updating the contents of their apps over time.
App was provided for our honest review.