Review by Christy Matte, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2013
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My PlayHome Stores

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Free-play virtual shopping experience is full of surprises

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Creativity
  • Communication & Collaboration

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Pre-K-2
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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5 images

Pros: Highly interactive app stimulates creative play, integrates seamlessly with the original.

Cons: No way to take pictures or save/record experiences.

Bottom Line: Available shops are fun to explore, but more would offer a richer experience.

The app provides an engaging way to get kids talking about their feelings, their families, their communities, and their lives, and can be used to inspire them to create oral or picture stories about their experiences as well. Kids will also enjoy this during indoor recess or as a station choice. 

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My PlayHome Storesthe sequel to My PlayHome, is a virtual shopping plaza. Characters can visit a clothing store, ice cream shop, produce market, and grocery store. Each shop has lots to do from trying on clothes, to making fruit smoothies, to scanning groceries. Kids will recognize the activities from their experiences as errand tag-alongs. At launch, there are four shops to explore, as well as an ATM that dispenses virtual cash. Keen-eyed kids will also find a mischievous mouse scurrying about. Kids can navigate between the two apps by heading out into the street toward the house/shops. Items purchased in the shops are transported with the characters back to the house. 

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This app isn't designed to teach kids to read or do math. Instead, it's a role-playing tool kids can use to explore lfe skills and community workers, practice storytelling, and communicate about their daily lives. The open-ended nature is compelling for kids, and they can easily tie the activities to their own life experiences. Characters show ethnic diversity (three skin tones) and some age diversity (baby, child, adult). My PlayHome Stores isn't goal-oriented, so there are no objectives, rewards, or tracking mechanisms. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

With so many opportunities to do grown-up things (scoop ice cream, weigh veggies, scan groceries, use an ATM), kids are bound to have fun. The app still needs a few more shops and experiences, but it's a good start.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Although these aren't formal learning games, kids will relate to the activities and connect them to their daily lives as they select from a range of shops and characters and follow their interests.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

No data is produced or collected, nor is data collection necessary. It would be a plus, however, if there was an in-game way to save scenes or take pictures.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Donald P. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Great app for creative play and imaginative storytelling.

My daughter has CAS (Childhood Apraxia of Speech) and as such we look for apps that encourage her to tell stories orally as she plays. This app has that and my daughter loves to play with it. She is constantly talking to her iPad as she plays, telling stories to herself, to her cats, to us, which is a huge win for this app.

This app would be a great resource in an ELL classroom where students could practice words in English / native languages and practice their language skills telling stories to each other about what the people in the app are doing. In low literacy students could write stories about what they are going to have the characters do, and then 'act' it out inside the app.

It would be a nice add on to allow children to take screenshots of what they are doing in the app that would be saved to the camera roll. Then they could put those images in sequential order, use them in other storytelling apps, etc. Also, they could add an ability for students to record their voices as they played with it or to record their play, making 'mini movies'. As it stands, this is a simple app that does encourage imagination and storytelling which can be an important aspect of growth for students at this age level.

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