By Amy Toman
Ezra has finally reached the age (15 months) where he has the attention span and fine motor skills needed to actually play iPad games! Making dinner, throwing in a load of laundry, and cleaning up after lunch have gotten so much easier. I can now place Ezra in his Pack ‘n Play and instead of him screaming, he can play a game on the iPad.
We have a few different games on the iPad that have lasted the true test of time, and many others that have been deleted. Since Ezra is the 2nd child, most of the games he plays are ones that Alethea loved as a baby and still plays to this day. One of his favorite games is called Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer. It is not an educational game, but there are many skills that he is learning through this fun game.
I would say that this game falls into the life simulation category of games. There is no set ending; you are just a little fish in the ocean, and the fish swims around the screen based on where you touch. For a young child, this teaches fine motor skills as well as cause and effect. At this age, It’s not easy to point to a certain spot and hold down your finger so the fish moves in the direction you want it to move. It takes a lot of concentration to make that fish swim.There are also areas in the ocean that play songs, noises and silly dances whenever the fish crosses over them. These points are even harder for Ezra to figure out, as he mainly goes to the same song over and over again.
Alethea, on the other hand, is almost 5 years old and has been playing Ocean Swimmer for a while and still loves to play. She plays completely different than Ezra does; Ali makes up an entire backstory for the fish and narrates her adventures through the open ocean. The current narrative is the the fish's name is Sylva and she is on a quest to find her mom and dad. This gives Alethea great practice expressing herself, creating her own story and imaginative play.
If you think creatively, any game can be used for education, even those that are considered to be non-educational. I consider it to be a loved game when our son brings us the iPad singing “fishy” indicating that he would like to play Ocean Swimmer. It is also wonderful to keep a child entertained while potty training.