"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
When I was a kid, I remember getting asked this question a lot by adults. Now that I'm a parent, it's fun to ask Philip, my 3-year-old son, this question too. It's not that I want to dictate or comment on his answers, but I find it interesting to analyze how he gets the ideas for his answers.
I personally found that Philip is greatly inspired by the media he consumes, the people he meets and the things that he experiences. Thus, I believe that it's my job as a parent to introduce the world and the many types of professions to him.
Today, I will share about an app that is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, entitled When I Grow Up… In addition to showing 16 different professions that might inspire juniors, the app also simultaneously introduces them to work-related vocabularies, letters, spelling and reading.
I Wanna be Famous
When I Grow Up… is aimed at juniors aged 0-5. Although this may seem strange to you, the developers strongly encourage stimulating the development of the brain and neural connectivity in their juniors as early as possible. Inspired by Glenn Doman's theory that parents can teach their babies to read and learn a foreign language, this app is broken down into five gameplay modes with support for up to six languages, i.e. English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Chinese.
The first mode, entitled Auto Play, is designed for babies and toddlers aged 0-3 to. In this mode, the app will play a slideshow of images and text that changes automatically every 1.5 seconds. Hence, you will go through all 16 professions in less than a minute. The illustrated personas are also accompanied by a child narrator, which my 1-year-old son, Noah, found really appealing.
The second gameplay mode is called Reading Words. Aimed at juniors aged 1-4, here you are asked to tap on the left and right arrows to navigate between professions. You can also tap on the words to hear them spoken or on the illustrations to trigger related sound effects. Starting from this gameplay mode, you can also activate text and voiceovers for all six languages by tapping on the yellow ribbon on the right hand side of the screen.
The third and fourth modes are related to spelling. In this mode, you can drag letters to the empty boxes at the bottom of the screen to form words that represent each profession. The third mode is a bit easier because you can see subtle prints on the boxes as hints. I personally think that perhaps the developers deliberately skipped the introduction to alphabet because it would not be a good fit for the theme of the app.
In the fifth and final mode, you will see sentences that are based on the answers made by the developers' kids to the question "What would you do if you were..." At one point, it might be good to see how other juniors could inspire your own, but since some of the sentences don't quite make sense, it would be better if they went through an editorial process before being published in the app.
At the end of each gameplay mode, after you have gone through all 16 professions from fireman to vet, you will be taken to a screen where a boy is depicted in pajamas, ready to go to sleep. The app would show a visual cue indicating that you should tap the bedside lamp to turn off the light. Once the light is off, you will see how the boy starts dreaming about one of the professions. Turning the light on and off again would repeat the process with a new randomly selected profession.
Parents Need to Know
The app features a great reading guide for parents that not only explains the design decisions that went into this app, but also contains a lot of information on how to maximize the cognitive and language in your juniors. I personally learned a lot of new things from this guide.
An interesting thing about this app is that many aspects were influenced by actual feedback from the developers' juniors. In addition to the sentences that I mentioned previously, the characters and professions in the app were chosen based on their input. I'm sure you have plenty of questions about why certain professions like entrepreneur and politician are included, but others - such as baker or taxi driver - are not, but I personally think it opens up a lot of rooms for improvements.
Things I Like
I may not be entitled to rate the voiceover quality in the other four non-English languages, but coming from a Chinese background, I can testify that the Chinese voiceovers and text are accurate and of high quality. My mother-in-law, who speaks Chinese on a daily basis, can translate the Chinese contents very well without being exposed to the English version first. I'm glad to learn this because at the moment Philip is starting to learn how to speak and write in Chinese.
In the fifth mode, we see how the game explains the things that people do in different professions. This allows me and my mother-in-law to have new conversational topics with Philip. I also find the illustration details that are included in each screen to be highly contextual. For example, in the cook's screen, you can see things that are commonly available in the kitchen, such as apple, cherry, egg, cake, roasted chicken, and grocery bag. This really helps me to introduce new professions that Philip may not have been familiar with.
Finally, my mother-in-law has been complaining about the lack of apps that could help Philip learn to recognize cursive letters. I'm glad that this app has a mode where you can view letters in cursive writing style because it does help me to introduce the concept to Philip. Although he is still having trouble recognizing them, I'm sure that it will be familiar to him in a while.
When I Grow Up… is more than just an app that highlights many different professions that might inspire your juniors. It also introduce them in multiple languages, in cursive writing and in stages that are carefully designed to fit different age ranges. I'd highly recommend this app if you're looking for a way to inspire your juniors and expose them to new languages.
When I Grow Up... is available for iPad
Get it on the App Store: iPad