When using this app with very young kids, you may want to use emotions-based vocabulary to discuss the characters' sounds and facial expressions. The facial expressions and sounds can help your students identify words to describe a character's possible emotions while being styled. As a class, use some of your students' creations to discuss how different each of these characters looks as a way to embrace differences and show how expressions of creativity can be very different.

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Toca Hair Salon is a creativity app that uses hair styling as the springboard to a unique digital art experience, no reading required. Through styling whimsical characters' hair, kids as young as 3 make decisions about which tools to use and how they want each character to look. They're also learning to embrace different looks and broadening their perspective on what hairstyles can include, far beyond that of typical media images of beauty. To play, kids simply choose one of six characters' heads and then use the tools and styling options found on one simple bar at the bottom of each character's page to create an endless array of styles. The options include shampoo, scissors, colors, electric trimmers, a hair-growing magic potion, and more, for kids to use to give the heads a new look. Characters laugh, smile, and make other facial expressions and sounds as kids work on their hair. After they view their creations and perhaps take a photo, kids can assess their work.

 

Toca Hair Salon empowers kids to make decisions and use their imaginations through fun play. Kids learn by using technology to be creative and by making decisions about how they want their characters to look. Kids can change these characters' hairstyles and, even if they make mistakes, quickly grow the hair back to try again. The most unique idea incorporated into Toca Hair Salon that makes it different from other traditional fashion or style apps is that the six cute characters that kids can style don't fit the standard media images of beauty or perfect looks. This (intentionally or unintentionally) highlights for kids the fun of creative hair styling and downplays the expectation that everyone should look a certain way to be considered cute or to be happy with their appearance. This may give kids using this app a new perspective on what fun, creative styles can look like -- which is whatever their minds can imagine.

 

Overall Rating

Engagement

The easy-to-use, well-designed user interface requires no reading; kids as young as 3 can navigate it. Engaging characters make funny sounds and exhibit emotions on their faces as kids style their hair. 

Pedagogy

Kids learn by using technology to be creative and by making decisions about how they want their characters to look. Toca Hair Salon empowers kids to try again. Kids can view their creations, take a photo, and assess their work.

Support

No formal instructions, although there is a For Parents section. The icons at the bottom of each screen provide kids with visual cues for the app's creative tools. No reading required. 


Common Sense reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher