We had a very, VERY exciting day recently. A special invitation for us to visit the BBC for a secret product launch. What could it be? The kids had me in stiches in the car – Mr Bloom has had a makeover? Nope. Mr Tumble finds a girlfriend? Nope. Tree Fu Tom finds out that George of the Jungle is actually his dad? Nope. Well, you can imagine how the conversation went.
We made our way into the brand new, state of the art and super colourful BBC center in Salford Quays. I nearly dropped dead when Violet screamed, “Mummy! Mummy! There’s Professor Cox!” Alas, it was just his picture and not the man himself.
Anyway, it turns out that the tech guys at Cbeebies have been squirreling away for months creating a new app called Cbeebies Playtime, a mobile app for the BBC’s youngest audiences and their parents, available for free on Android, iOS and Kindle Fire devices in the UK. The app features four fun games based on some of the most-loved CBeebies shows, all designed to aid child development in a safe and secure offline environment.
Both of my kids were given iPads with the app on and told to explore. It still amazes me how these young kids can navigate their way around any tablet or phone handed to them, technology is just embedded into their every day lives that nothing seems to faze them.
The CBeebies Playtime is the perfect companion for young children, allowing them to play along with favourite characters whenever and wherever they want, including the Alphablocks, Octonauts, Tree Fu Tom and Something Special’s Mr Tumble. It doesn’t need to be connected to the wi-fi either, perfect for long, or short actually, car journey’s. Parents can also join in the fun through the dedicated ‘Grown-ups’ area. Here they can record special messages for their little ones, find out about each game’s learning benefits, and access useful tips to help their children get the most from the app. I thought the the recording feature was a great idea – the next time they open the app they get to hear your voice and whatever heartfelt or silly message you decided upon. Very cool.
Profiles can be created for up to four children, allowing them to collect CBeebies bugs as rewards for their progress. Each profile features a hot air balloon that children can personalise with colours and shapes, and this then transports them into the CBeebies Playtime world where they can choose to play one of four games.
Alphablocks Word Magic
Alphablocks Word Magic helps young children develop confidence in reading and writing by learning how to spell a range of words. They simply tap on a picture of an everyday object and spell it out by choosing the right Alphablocks, in the right order. The words get progressively more difficult as the game goes on.
Octonauts Cadet Training
Help the Octonauts in a variety of missions to rescue sea creatures who’ve gotten themselves in a pickle. Shaking the device to remove rubble and calling out to lost Orcas are just some of the ways children can help them out. It helps develop listening skills and teamwork, as the Octonauts guide them through a series of underwater adventures, as well as finding out more about the world around them.
Something Special Paint Pop
Play along with Mr Tumble and his friends, who need some help decorating their clothes and accessories. Children can colour them in by tapping the screen to pop paint bubbles as they pass over the items. This game is suitable for all children, including those with special needs, allowing them to have fun and develop confidence.
Tree Fu Tom Chuckleberry Chase
Join Tree Fu Tom on harvest festival day after the Mushas have stolen all of the chuckleberries. Children can cast the super speed spell with Tom and help him race through Treetopolis to catch the Mushas and save the day. The game allows children to practice fine motor skills, helping to develop their movement at a crucial time of their growth.
Over the summer, new games will be added online to accompany new CBeebies shows, including Sarah and Duck, Tiny Tumble and in particular Tee and Mo, a new pre-school 2D-animated series of digital, interactive experiences for young children and their parents or caregivers to play together. Updates will also give the app levels of difficulty, which will be better for older children. All in all though my two girls said that the app was very colourful, easy to use and, most importantly, fun.
My children loved the app and loved meeting a real life presenter,Cat, too, although a little dumbstruck around her at first, they soon got into the swing of things. Thank you Cbeebies for a great day out!
The CBeebies Playtime app can be downloaded for free from:
o Apple iTunes app store for iOS devices: PRESS HERE
o Google Play for Android devices: PRESS HERE
What are you waiting for? Go play!
Think big and reach for the stars,