Times are a-changing for parents who are looking to teach their juniors about the four seasons. With the help of apps, now you can explore the changing weather any time, without ever leaving the comforts of your home. One app that we recommend is Hippo Seasons.
'Tis the Season
An app rich in visuals, Hippo Seasons will enchant you right off the bat. The opening menu features a pinwheel which you can spin by swiping in a circle motion on screen or by blowing into your iPad's microphone. The four sails on the pinwheel have motives that represent the four seasons in a year: grass for Summer, flowers for Spring, leaves for Autumn, and snow for Winter.
To select a season, just tap on the corresponding sail. The app will then reveal a new scene in which you participate in thematic activities.
In Summer you can mow the lawn by guiding the lawnmower with your fingers. Tap on the screen to make the landmower cut in a straight path or swipe to draw lines. You can draw any lines or shapes you like, including letters and numbers. You can also tap on the tiles surrounding the lawn to hear various percussions.
Spring is a unique season with two stages. In the first stage you will see a still puddle reflecting some trees. When you tap on it, the water will ripple. Tap a few times to completely drain the water to reveal the second stage: a fresh, green lawn. Tap anywhere on the screen to plant Crocus bulbs. After a while, the flowers will bloom.
In Autumn, you can kick up a pile of leaves around by making simple gestures on screen: tap to jump in and swipe to sweep the leaves aside. If you stay idle for a while, beetles will appear on screen - try tapping to make them change directions.
Finally, in Winter you can make up to three snowballs by swiping on the ground. Just like real snowballs, you can roll these virtual ones to make them bigger. You can also tap on the screen to leave footprints in the snow.
It is interesting to note that in all four seasons, the app allows you to start over by tapping on the Hippo icon on the top left of the screen and then tapping on the Reload icon, or by shaking your iPad. This will trigger a thematic animation, for example a snowstorm in Winter or a tornado of leaves in Autumn, which will clear any of your previous work on screen.
Parents Need to Know
Hippo Seasons is a toy-like app with an open-ended gameplay. As such there app has no rules, no timers, and no scoring system. Because of the nature of the app, it should be quite suitable for kids ages one and up.
It is also worth knowing that the app does not contain ads or in-app purchases. It is also language-neutral - there are neither verbal nor written instructions in any of the seasons. However, for parents there is a special Info section which contains brief instructions for using the app and all the controls used in the app.
Things I Like
I think Hippo Seasons is a genuinely good app. I like that it explores a topic that is so close and relatable for every kids, which is the seasons in a year. Also, as I've mentioned previously, the presentation is really well done.
Not only is the app rich in graphics, but its interface is friendly and rewarding as well. I really loved tapping on the screen to make the water ripple and the flowers bloom in Spring, and making footprints in the snow in Winter. I also enjoyed discovering little "secrets", like blowing into the microphones actually make the pinwheel spin. The sound effects and background music are also nicely done.
Another aspect that I really like is the open-ended nature of the app. I'm always fond of free-play apps because they encourage kids to be creative and imaginative, and Hippo Seasons definitely fits into that criteria.
Sure you can just leave random footprints in the snow in Winter, but on the other hand you can also draw letters, numbers, or even doodle there. And what about challenging your juniors to create simple shapes using the landmower in Summer? The possibility is endless here. And even if your juniors don’t feel like practicing to trace letters, the app is so peaceful anyway, which makes it great for winding down after a long, tiring day.
If I could make a suggestion, I think that compared to the other seasons, Autumn seems a bit lacking. It would be great if there's a little more to do here - maybe make it a two-stage scene and allow kids to shake leaves off a tree first before swiping them.
I may not have four seasons where I live, but I love Hippo Seasons anyway. It's a nifty little app that provides open-ended play, encourages imagination, and teaches juniors about the seasons all at the same time. It's also delightfully peaceful and visually rich. Highly recommended!
Get Hippo Seasons on the App Store.
Thank you to Hippotrix for providing us with the app!