Genetics for little kids? Well, sort of.
This app uses an image of DNA's double helix as its metaphor for how players can create new and different monsters. In DNA Play's, kids see a black, unformed creature in the center of the screen. As the double helix along the top scrolls to different locations, kids add body parts to their monster by completing DNA puzzles. After their monster is created, they can rearrange the gene patterns to create mutations. A whooping 200 billion unique monsters are waiting to be discovered!
Forming Your Monster
The app divides the creature's DNA into six zones: torso, head, eyes (there can be one to multiple), mouth, legs, and arms. Upon arriving at each zone, kids watch as some of the base elements -- represented as colored blocks -- fall off from the gene. They solve the DNA puzzle by dragging the fallen blocks to interlock with their base pairs dangling at the top of the screen. When the gene is complete, the body part shows up on the creature.
After completing the DNA puzzles in each of the six locations, they have a completed monster. They can then scroll along the top double helix to revisit the body parts. Players mutate their monster by rearranging the block pairs (sliding them left or right). Each movement instantly creates a different look on the monster! Younger kids can also mutate their monster by simply touching a body part. It will instantly change in a random manner.
Playing with Your Monster
In addition to your mutating your monster, the app also allows kids to play with the creature. Once fully formed, the monster will look at you and make funny sounds. Random objects enter the scene, such as a radio. If the player touches the radio, it turns on and the Monster may begin to dance. Other objects that can appear include a skateboard (for taking the monster on a ride), food, flowers (for sneezing), and other objects. Each monster responds differently to the various items that appear in the play scene. When done with playing, kids can save their monster for later play and take its photo. They can then start the creation process all over again. The app has places to save 18 monsters.
DNA Play enables kids to create monsters that are adorable! Each creature has its own personality, expressed through sounds, facial expressions, and body movements. Having so many monsters that are just a finger swipe away motivates kids to explore the possibilities.
The concept that we are each different comes through clearly in this gameplay. That some of our differences are tied to our genetic makeup is not clear, but the app does come with a helpful parents' section that provides information about how to talk further about genetics and DNA.
As much as I like this app, there are a few features that could be improved. Because these monsters are so irresistible, they entice kids to reach out and touch them -- perhaps to tickle. But each touch ends up mutating the monster and it isn't easy to get the one you loved back. Also, kids like to control their play, so I would encourage the developers to provide kids with a play menu so that they can decide how they want to play with their new monstrous friend instead of being held captive to the randomness of this experience.
gives parents and caregivers a platform to talk about the building blocks of life. It can act as an introduction to more complex topics that children will study when they get older. If the science learning goes over their heads, this app is still worth exploring because, at its basic form, DNA Play
is a monster-creation app, similar in style to our top-rated Monster Mingle
. This DNA Play app review was written by Jinny Gudmundsen.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.