Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2013
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Toca Hair Salon 2

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Clip, color, and curl for creativity and embracing differences

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Teachers say (2 Reviews)
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Grades
Pre-K-K This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Whimsical characters make out-of-the-box creativity and hair fashion imagination easy.

Cons: A few characters' expressions and sounds may sound like negative reactions.

Bottom Line: Toca Hair Salon 2 is a fun, extremely sticky creative play experience for young style fans.

Use this app for a really fun lesson in vocabulary about emotions. Discuss the characters' sounds and facial expressions, which can help kids identify words to describe a character's possible emotions while being styled. Talk about the appearances of these characters as a way to embrace differences and express creativity: Does everyone have to like the same style of hair or clothes? Can different looks all look equally good? Color-, hair- and style-related words can also be incorporated in gameplay to help kids acquire new subject-specific vocabulary.

 

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Toca Hair Salon 2 is a creative imagination app that empowers kids to create hairstyles on whimsical characters.  Very similar to the first Toca Hair Salon app but with more features, this no-reading-required app can be used by kids as young as 3. The differences between this and the first Toca Hair Salon app include more tools, photo background color options, new character heads for kids to style, and heads that include facial hair. This second version also has more realistic-looking faces, hair, and hair motions, as well as added facial expressions. To use this app, kids choose a character head and use the tools and styling options (they'll find them on one simple bar at the bottom of each character's page) to create an unending array of styles. The options include shampoo, scissors, colors, electric trimmers, even a hair-growing magic potion and more for kids to use to give the heads a new look. Characters will laugh, smile, and make other facial expressions and sounds as kids work on their hair. Toca Hair Salon 2 is a good example of an app that facilitates creative, open-ended play for kids to explore color, shapes, action and reaction, facial expressions, and more in the imaginative environment of a digital hair salon.

 

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As kids make decisions about which tools to use and how they want each character to look, they're learning about digital creativity and exploring their own imagination. They learn to embrace different looks and broaden their perspective on what hairstyles can include, far beyond that of typical media images of beauty. After they view their creations and perhaps take a photo and choose a specific color background for their photo, they can assess their work.

 

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

The easy-to-use, well-designed interface requires no reading, and kids as young as 3 can navigate it. The characters engage kids as they style hair, with their funny sounds and emotional facial expressions.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Kids learn by using technology to be creative and by making decisions about how they want their characters to look. Toca Hair Salon 2 empowers kids to try again. Kids can view their creations, take a photo, and assess their work.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

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

Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Margaret A P. , Other
Other
The Agnes Irwin School
Rosemont, PA
3
Fun, interactive app that encourages creative hair salon play.

This app is another great Toca Boca creation that encourages young children to experiment and practice their new skills. There are numerous options (e.g., scissors, re-grow gel, hair dye) that students can choose to play with as they cut, re-grow, and decorate their character's hair but they are presented in small, manageable groups. One of the things I really appreciate about the app is the fact that it's intuitive and allows for exploration. Children (and adults) don't need instructions or even any literacy skills to use the app. The app also allows for a nice mix of realistic and creative play since there are a variety of characters and children can use real tools to style hair to look like their own or embellish a hair style by adding colors and different hair lengths.

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