This post is sponsored by Dumb Ways JR and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.
My kids are constantly asking if they can download new apps to their tablets. One day they asked to get “Dumb Ways to Die”. I was busy at that moment and didn’t have time to see what it was all about but it didn’t sound good so I said “no”. Come to find out Dumb Ways to Die is an app that teaches safety! I recently had the opportunity to get a live briefing of the brand’s new apps designed for younger children: Dumb Ways JR Boffo’s Breakfast and Dumb Ways JR Loopy’s Train Set. The team was amazing and after experiencing the apps myself with my own children I can confidently say that I fully support Dumb Ways!
In 2012 the Dumb Ways to Die app began as a Public Service Announcement to encourage safe behavior around trains, train stations/platforms and crossings. It was very entertaining and became wildly popular among kids. It was fun but delivered an important message — that it’s dumb to take risks that can have serious consequences, especially around trains.
The folks behind the app realize that learned behaviors start young so they worked to develop Dumb Ways JR to introduce safety messages in an age appropriate way for younger audiences (ages 3-7), skipping the gory graphics. These apps have no blood or dying but are just as much fun and are still based on safety education.
In meeting with the Dumb Ways JR team I learned the four key elements that guided the design of the new apps. These were well thought out with the children’s best interests in mind. The first is Child Centered Design. The apps offer children opportunities to:
- Create or explore different outcomes on different uses of an app
- “Own” their play – they feel they’re directing the game play
- Experience playful explorations and problem solving
In Boffo’s Breakfast children can create a meal to feed a hungry Boffo and act as his personal chef. There’s no wrong or right way to whip up a meal so kids can explore and create as they wish. Boffo displays various reactions to the child’s actions within the app. Feed Boffo a red hot pepper and see what happens! Does he like broccoli? Pop one in his mouth and see how he reacts!
My youngest daughter really loved making her own recipes for Boffo, slicing, grating, mixing, cooking, and seasoning her creations. The app is super easy to use — kids can easily figure it out on their own. One of the things I love about the app though is the “For Parents” section which gives you tips on how to enjoy the app WITH your child to get the most out of the experience.
The other elements that guided the design of the app are:
2) Multi-sensory and multi-modal elements appeal to a range of senses, allowing for gesture, audio, images and animations.
3) The apps provide an appropriate level of challenge so that children develop a sense of mastery, create their own narratives and games using the provided elements, and perform constructing and deconstructing tasks (e.g., combining ingredients to create a meal).
4) They also aim to appeal to children’s sense of humor (both anticipated and unexpected) with engaging characters.
We particularly enjoyed the humor element. Boffo is adorable and some of his reactions are hilarious. His character is what really kept my daughter engaged and entertained. While playing she kept talking about finding ingredients that Boffo would like. We also talked a lot about which foods are healthy for us and the safety of using knives and graters.
One of the safety lessons my daughter learned within the app came from Boffo’s reaction to turning up the flame on the frying pan. He does not like cooking on level 4 or 5!
In Boffo’s kitchen, players can create endless meals from 20 different ingredients. Parker thinks it’s so funny when Boffo doesn’t like her weird food combinations and makes silly sounds and faces to express how he feels. This also encourages her to try new combinations to find things he does like so she can see his expressions as a happy Boffo.
As a parent, I love that she’s learning through play. When she’s having fun, she doesn’t even realize that she’s learning valuable lessons!
Parker also enjoyed Dumb Ways JR Loopy’s Train Set which appeals to both boys and girls and teaches train safety just like the original Dumb Ways to Die app. In Loopy’s Train Set, players can select from two modes of play: Drive or Build. In Drive mode, onscreen controls are used to drive Loopy’s train around a prebuilt track. It’s designed to encourage children to create their own stories as the help passengers board and exit the train and decide it’s speed.
In Build mode, children are the creators. They build their own train track by arranging and connecting different-shaped pieces of track. They can also add items such as houses, trees and animals to their scene. After they have built some track, players can drive the train along it. This mode is a little more advanced. I like that there are different levels for players of different abilities.
In this game kids can learn about various aspects of train safety. The characters cannot cross the tracks and the boom gates at the level crossings automatically come down when the train approaches. Just like Boffo’s Breakfast, Loopy’s Train Set also has a “For Parents” section to give parents discussion points and teaching tools to use along with the app.
Both apps also have no time limits or rules, no ads or in-app purchases and you can play without a wi-fi or internet connection! All great things in kids apps, especially from a parents perspective. I love the open ended play and how kids are allowed to explore and get creative without boundaries. My kids love these apps and yours will too!
Ready to download and the Dumb Ways JR games? Visit the links below!:
The Dumb Ways JR Boffo’s Breakfast app is available for download from the App Store (iPhone) and Google Play (Android). The Dumb Ways JR Loopy’s Train Set app is available for download from App Store (iPhone) and Google Play (Android).
Connect with Dumb Ways to Die and Dumb Ways JR online: