My PlayHome is a fun iPad app that is essentially an interactive dollhouse. It is $3.99 for the full version and there is also a Lite version that is free so you can try it out to see some of the capabilities.
The app has several different screens that depict various rooms in a house including a backyard. In each room, there are dozens of objects that can be manipulated and used in different ways. There are also a variety of family members that can be added to scenes. There are family members of various ethnicity which is a nice feature. Below is a screenshot of the kitchen scene.
You can move the people around in the room and have them interact with objects in the room. Many of the objects have simple animations when you touch them or put them in the correct spot on a person (i.e. putting an apple in front of a person’s mouth causes bites to be taken from the apple, tap the faucet to turn it on and water comes out, put a person on a swing and make them swing). The animations are really great for capturing kid’s attention and keeping them interested in the app.
Most of my preschoolers have been able to figure out most of the simple animations but have needed help to figure out some of the more advanced ones (i.e. putting the boy on the trampoline and making him jump). It also takes some work to get my preschoolers to slow down and get the most language input and expression because they just want to quickly get everything moving and touch everything.
Once you get the child to slow down there are lots of language goals that you can work on with this app! I have worked on pronouns, verbs, and “wh” questions just to name a few. There is also a lot of great, relevant vocabulary in the app. I usually do not use it as a primary activity in my speech therapy sessions, but more as a reinforcer that is still contains lots of opportunities to practice language skills. One negative would be that kids do seem to get bored of it after playing it 2-3 times so I don’t pull it out too often.
Overall, I have found that My PlayHome is a worthwhile app to own for speech therapy for preschoolers and lower elementary students. I am able to work on several language goals in a fun way with my preschoolers using the app.
- Lots of fun, engaging animations
- Ability to work on many language goals – pronouns, verbs, “wh” questions
- Age appropriate for preschool through early elementary
- Low cost
- Some animations are hard for kids to figure out
- Occasional bugs in animations
- Would be difficult for kids with fine motor difficulties
- Kids get bored after playing with it a few times