There’s something about Play-Doh that makes me nostalgic and though there’s no familiar salty smell, the PLAY-DOH Creates ABCs app appealed to both the childhood educator and the child in me. Hasbro’s entry into the app world is well-thought out, educationally beneficial, colorful, easy-to-use, and the whole interface looks like it’s made of Play-Doh! Even the buttons for each activity and the controls look as though they are made of the squishtastic stuff.
The Parent’s Corner
Clearly, it’s not made of Play-Doh or it wouldn’t work as well as it does, but both Mr. Learning Treehouse and I got in touch with our inner children while looking at this app. In fact, we may have even not shared with the Kid Testers as well as we should have, but they shouldn’t be in the Parent’s Corner anyway.
Yes, there’s a Parent’s Corner. It allows you to track the progress of your little players, provide feedback to the app creators, find the app on Facebook, and give it as a gift to another Play-Doh lover.
Outside of the Parent’s Corner, there a number of modes in which you can play this app. One really helpful feature is that before each game or mode, there’s a video of animated Play-Doh tubs that explains the feature to you and teaches you how to play.
Drawing Play-Doh Letters
This game was very cool! It shows you a letter inside handwriting lines and a bunch of containers of Play-Doh on the bottom of the screen. Choose a color and the app will put down blobs that your child can trace/squish together to draw the letter. After the letter has created, the app tells you a word that starts with that letter and reads a little poem.
Your child can also make their own object that starts with the letter and either save it or squish it by dragging their finger top to bottom. It can be squished flat up to three time at which time a little animated Play-Doh tub tells you “That’s not going anywhere!” Kid Tester #1 loved squishing the objects.
Letter Matching Game
This too was fun and easy to use. Your little squisher needs to drag the Play-Doh letter to the picture that starts with that letter sound. Our Kid Testers did not have trouble with the drag ‘n’ match function and loved the Play-Doh pictures. The only drawback is that even though you can switch between upper and lowercase letters, the pictures never change – q is always queen, a is always alligator, etc.
Create and Share
In this mode, your child can pick a background, choose between some pre-made shapes (like a smiley face, star, lightning bolt, etc.) and click on them to make them appear on the picture. Then they can drag them around and resize them.
But the best thing about this mode is that after your child plays the handwriting game, the letters they’ve mastered are available to use in their creations along with the corresponding object that starts with that letter.
So after your child learns how to make an “A”, they can have a Play-Doh “A” and an alligator to use in their picture. After the creation is complete, you can simply press the camera icon to save a screenshot to your gallery, which you can then share via text or any other share option on your device.
The Squishy-Gritty of the PLAY-DOH Creates ABCs App
This app has a lot of nice educational features. It can help your child practice fine motor skills while also practicing letter shapes. It practice letter-sound correspondence without making it feel like work, and it not only sparks imaginative play by allowing your child to create his own animated scenes, but also encourages him to work hard at letter practice so there are more things to play when he’s creating.
There are few things about this app they may frustrate parents, but not frustrate you enough not use it. For example, app can only be played in landscape mode; it doesn’t rotate with your device. And the music can be a little annoying, but you can turn it off in the Parent’s Corner.
As I said, nothing that would make you skip over this app. In fact, don’t skip over this app! Your child will love it and it’s the perfect blend of education and nostalgia.
Name: PLAY-DOH Create ABCs
Developer: PlayDate Digital
Platforms: iPhone and iPad (optimized for iPhone 5)
Age group: 4+