Growing up, I always had younger siblings, cousins, or other kids around me. I loved playing with them, especially reading them stories. Years later, when the first iPad came out, I saw a young cousin playing with one, and I could see immediately that it was a watershed moment in the way that children consume and interact with content. After years of tinkering with ideas in the space, I came across Josh and Emma Go To The Beach, an app that had already been released, but was no longer being actively developed. I loved the characters and the style, and knew that I wanted to get involved and help take it to the next level. I partnered with the original developer and started the process of deciding what was next for Josh and Emma. We knew we wanted to offer more stories, so I began researching the most important skills for early education – essentially, what abilities are top-tier kindergartens evaluating during the admissions process. Then, I worked with my sister, who is a third-grade teacher, to work the most important skills into the four new stories, while keeping them fun and sticking true to the original story’s style.
I’m going to cheat and pick two – a favorite story and a favorite feature. My favorite story is ‘Build a Kite’ because it’s the most interactive, and in addition to shape matching, it teaches problem-solving and creativity, skills that I find to be under-represented in educational apps. My favorite feature is the way that the app can grow with a child. Parents can turn on autoplay for younger kids who aren’t yet ready to advance the pages on their own. Then, later, they can turn autoplay off, at which time the little one is already familiar with the story, but can focus on reading along and the interactive components.