Mellifluous birdsong, wind whispering quietly through the trees, the mossy ground a verdant carpet – there is very little better than tromping through the woods.
And while we’re far from what I’d call an outdoorsy family – glamping and running around the backyard barefoot is more our style – we loved spending entire days hiking through the great outdoors on Washington Island this summer. When I was in high school, I even spent 11 days in The Boundary Waters wilderness with nothing more than a rucksack, tin cup, and canoe to my name.
There’s a sense of serenity that comes with communing with nature, and Toca Boca, digital toymaker and DGOE fave managed to channel it into their latest app, Toca Nature.
The beautifully designed, open sandbox app invites kids to create their own ecosystem, complete with snow-capped mountains, grassy foothills, clear blue lakes, bucolic forests, and a number of furry creatures – foxes, hares, woodpeckers, beavers, bears, wolves and deer – to populate it all.
Simple, intuitive controls make it easy for kids to get the hang of adding to their landscapes, and each action has a reaction. Creating various mini ecosystems within the larger one sees five food sources sprout and take root, and each animal will let kids know which is their fave with a little thought bubble that pops up over their heads. Kids just need to pluck each food source as they spot it to store it in its marked box.
So while the app is obviously not a true reflection of nature, it is a projection that encourages little ones to think about how different aspects of the environment interact. Kids can have several views of the landscape they create too, zooming out for a broad aerial view or dropping into a particular area with the zoom feature to see what the animals are up to.
One thing to keep in mind: While there’s an axe button that allows kids to remove trees if they don’t like where they were planted, there’s no way to “reset” the entire landscape. Not being able to start over might bother those who like a clean slate each time they open up an app, but we did figure out a semi-decent fix. Mountains will shrink down when swiped with the lake digging option, while lakes will dry up with the mountain building option. When the animals lose their habitats, they simply fade away.
As with all Toca Boca apps, there are no in-app purchases or external advertising, though it does allow kids to take photos of their world. If you allow photos to be added to your device’s camera roll, just keep in mind that you mind end up with eleventy mabillion photos of “nature” to go with all those selfies kids love to take of their open mouths.
Download Toca Nature for iOS on iTunes.
And if you’re looking for more than just one app from the Swedish developer, check out the Toca Starter Box. You’ll get six apps for $9.99, which saves you close to $8 when compared to buying each app individually.
Photo credits: Toca Boca