I have seen several apps try to encourage kids to build and tell their own stories. The most common approach is through movable characters, props, and voice recordings. But today, I want to highlight a different approach to building your own story, used by the interactive book A Little Goat Builds the World. In this app, readers use a familiar mechanism — swiping — to change the background and text in the story. I’d argue that this approach is simple, yet eye-opening.
Slide the Upper and Lower Parts
The story starts with a little goat standing in a green field, and the sun shining in the sky. The scene has two parts of text: one above the goat and another underneath. In most digital storybooks, you would normally swipe left on the bottom right corner to change the page. Lo and behold, the background changes, but the little goat and the text on the upper part stay the same. The text on the lower part, however, changes to depict a new environment.
If you continue reading the story this way, you would not find anything special. But, try swiping the upper part of the scene. The text will switch — in the example above, the sun will be replaced by rain clouds. Further swipes will replace the rain clouds with a flock of birds then a crescent moon.
Each time the weather changes, the little goat stays the same, but the environment and the text on the lower side change to match the context. This allows you to experience different combinations of possible events for your story.
You can read the entire story without changing the weather from start to end. However, you can also swipe through different weather conditions to compare the effects they have over the scene. There are many possible combinations in this non-chronological storybook. So, instead of reading the storyline passively, kids can interact with the text and objects to create their own stories.
Tip: Don’t forget to rotate the crescent moon!
Parents Need to Know
Because A Little Goat Builds the World has no narration, the app is more suitable for kids ages 5+ who are able to read on their own. The story is relatively easy to understand, but it’s open to experimentation. Make sure you try dragging the sun, the cloud, and the birds over plants, deserts, a pile of leaves, and the goat’s little brother, to find the hidden interactions.
A Little Goat Builds the World works great without an Internet connection. It doesn’t have third-party ads, in-app purchases, or links to social networks. There is a link on the main screen which allows grown-ups to open the privacy terms on the developer’s website, but it is secured with a cute and creative lock. To open it, you must drag the kite over the instructions on the main screen and hold it there for five seconds.
Things I Like
At first I thought A Little Goat Builds the World was just another cute storybook for kids. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I could swipe to change the upper and lower parts of each scene. And when I found out that the lower part changes when I change the upper part, I immediately understood and appreciated the intent.
To be honest, I’ve never seen an app like this before, and I think this is a clever approach to intrigue kids in choosing how they want to tell their own versions of the story. Because the story’s theme is designed around plants, animals, and environment changes, it’s also a great way to learn how time and natural phenomena work.
A Little Goat Builds the World offers a unique storytelling and story creation experience. By mixing the different actors and environment, there are plenty of ways that you can explore, experiment, and tell the story. If your kids love to make up and tell their own stories, you should really let them try this app.
Get A Little Goat Builds the World on the App Store: iPad
App was provided for our honest review.