It’s no secret that we’re huge Disney fans in our household, so when we were invited to try out the latest app in the Disney Imagicademy series of learning and creativity apps, I was thrilled. The Disney name is synonymous with imagination, so my expectations for Mickey’s Magical Arts World were high. Over the past week, we explored all 5 sections of the creative learning app, and it’s clear, the experience does not disappoint.
Disney Imagicademy is described as “the first comprehensive brand of interactive and connected early learning experiences that combines the Disney characters and stories families love, with a research-driven curriculum developed in conjunction with top academics and education experts.” There are two iPad apps currently available (Math Magical Math World and Mickey’s Magical Arts World), with more on the way later this year.
We explored the Arts World along with the companion app for parents (Disney Imagicademy Parents), and here’s our take on why they’re awesome:
1: Guiding kids to become content creators
The biggest deciding factor in loving – or not loving – an app for my children is the extent to which the program allows my kids to be makers and creators rather than passive viewers. In Mickey’s Magical Arts World, kids can customize characters, choose a video template, record their own story and watch as the animated characters bring it to life. It’s this focus on creating that makes the app a winner for me.
2. Featuring a broad range of creative activities
My daughter loves to color, draw and design, while my son prefers inventing characters and stories. By incorporating a full range of creative activities, the app offers something for everyone. In the Design section, kids can help Minnie design buildings for the town by arranging architectural details and adding color and pattern to the structures. The Materials section is another favorite: choose a pattern and design an animal toy using all sorts of materials. Hosted by Goofy, this section was a hit partially because of the unexpected materials (think cheese sauce and glitter) and the sound effects. What is it about animal sounds that sends kids into hysterics?
3. Making learning fun and motivating with awards
While Disney has put a lot of talent and research behind this series of apps, the true test is how much it resonates with kids – how much they explore, laugh and, ultimately, want to play. Based on the recommended age range (3-8), I had assumed that this app would be most appealing to my daughter (age 6), but after watching her play a few times, my son (age 8) clearly wanted in on the action.
The feature set and the incorporation of characters they know and love are part of what make this app appealing, but it’s also the use of feedback mechanisms. My children are at ages when they want to show me – and receive praise for – everything they do. The children’s app incorporates a game-like approach to earning ‘pins,’ and the parent companion app includes a feature that allows us to see our children’s accomplishments and give them virtual praise.
4. Teaching kids to draw
Another feature that appeals to me is the Drawing section. My children have several apps that allow them to add color, pattern and other decorative elements to pre-existing forms. The Arts World app goes a step further by teaching children to draw. Select a shape and the app guides you through a step-by-step tutorial of tracing lines to create the desired shape. In this section, the focus is on the process of drawing instead of just creating a finished product.
5. Engaging parents and children beyond the screen
In addition to the children’s apps, the Disney Imagicademy suite features a parent app (available for both iPad and iPhone) in which parents can stay informed about their children’s progress, give them ‘high fives’ for achievements and get ideas for extending the concepts and lessons beyond the app itself. The main view is organized in a personal ‘feed’ that displays details about their children’s latest accomplishments alongside activities, recipes and other inspiring content for engaging in educational and creative activities with their children. Some of these are craft oriented, like heart-themed art projects, while others are more scientific focused, like a series of experiments with vinegar and baking soda (always a hit at our house).
Ready to learn more? Disney Imagicademy apps are available exclusively for iPad and can currently be found on Apple’s App Store in the Kids, Education and Entertainment categories.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.