Going to This School is Fun!
Toca Life: School
is an adorable digital playset depicting a school campus with five interactive locations: school, cafeteria, playground, youth club, and a house. As the third app in the "Toca Life" series, School
is similar in format to Toca Life: City
and Toca Life: Town
in that it provides an open-ended mini-world for kids to explore.
What to Explore
Kids become the directors of the stories they create while playing in Toca Life: School. The five locations are filled with multigenerational characters and countless interactive surprises. There is no "right way" to interact with this app; rather it is up to the child to explore objects to see if they do something (start the disco ball spinning) or if they interact with a character (making a guitar play music).
While scenes start with characters in them, players can add or swap out characters by tapping a yellow button at the bottom. The 32 characters, representing different ages, backgrounds, and even a few pets and monsters, appear along the bottom. Kids drag them into the scene as they see fit. In each scene, kids can place any character in a wheelchair. The presence of a wheelchair in each scene lets kids play with character who have physical disabilities. Unlike the previous two apps in the series, these characters are all new. My favorite is an adorable fluffy dog that turns into a hat when placed on a character's head!
Hidden Surprises Galore!
By experimenting and using their curiosity, players will discover that they can conduct science experiments in the school and sneak into lockers to set off stink bombs! In the cafeteria, they can instigate a full-fledged food fight! Kids can dunk basketballs and score soccer goals at the playground. I loved handing instruments -- from guitars to saxophones to maracas -- to characters and watching them groove out to the music they create. Plus, many locations have extra clothes and even costumes for dressing up -- you just drag the clothing to a character and "poof" a new outfit appears.
Life Weekly, a new feature in this app, appears on the Main Screen. It shows a series of videos that includes cool tips about the Toca Life series and other tidbits for fans. You must have an internet connection for this feature to work.
Most kids wish schools had less rules. With this app, kids can attend a rule-free school. They can blow stuff up in the science lab, turn on the sprinklers, ring the school bell at random times, and even spray the fire extinguisher. Want to participate in a food fight without ending up in the principal's office? You can, in this school. But you can also create a band, send love notes to others, and draw a lesson on the whiteboard for students to learn.
I think this app's real strength is how it provides kids with the ability to tell stories in a familiar setting. Just as toy playsets awaken kids' imaginations, this app does that too. With 32 characters and all sorts of fun interactive elements, kids can't help starting to telling stories. Plus, the app encourages this imaginative play by offering some simple digital tools that record the child's stories. By tapping the movie reel button at the top right of the screen, kids can record two minutes of moving of the characters and objects as well as their personal narration. The app then magically turns their imaginative play into a shareable movie. I also like that the app supports multi-touch so that two kids can play together.
Another strong positive in this app is the representation of diversity in its cute characters and in the use of wheelchairs. The adorable boys and girls span ages ranging from a baby all the way to adults who staff the school. All skin tones are represented along with a variety of hair colors and styles. There are pets, a monster, and even a skeleton. Toca Life: School helps kids to understand that people are different, and that they should accept and celebrate those differences.
Parents, the main page has an ad for other Toca Boca apps, but you can turn it off from within the Settings app of your device. You can also control the music, the ability to record videos and use the microphone, as well as other options.
Toca Life: School
is a great addition to any child's app library. It can help little ones just getting ready for school to have a better understanding of what they will be doing. Families can have discussions about why schools have rules. And all kids can let their imaginations soar.
We have created a VIDEO REVIEW of this app on YouTube which you can access here
. This Toca Life: School app review was written by Jinny Gudmundsen. It was originally published on Oct. 28, 2015, and then updated on May 19, 2016 to reflect availability on Android.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.