Origami: Marvellous to look at when someone’s done it well, but frustrating if your clumsy thumbs are much better at making screwed-up paper balls than carefully-crafted swans.
Mr Shingu’s Paper Zoo may help. It’s an absolutely marvellous iPhone and iPad app from Stormcloud Games that gets children to make their own menagerie of (virtual) paper animals: pelicans, lions, pandas, owls, snakes and a host of other creatures.
The app teaches them to fold each animal using on-screen sheets of paper, with dotted lines and draggable dots showing kids exactly what to do – instructions that can also be used to make these animals in the real world.
They can paint the animals whatever colours they like – purple tigers ahoy! – before placing them into the zoo, which starts out as a sparse landscape, but quickly fills up with with animals and the homes and decorations that can be bought using virtual coins.
Note: there are no in-app purchases in Mr Shingu’s Paper Zoo. The coins are entirely earned from playing fun mini-games and looking after your animals. It’s thus teaching children (a bit) about managing their resources, without expecting them to spend real money.
We’ve been playing with the app for a couple of days after getting a promo code from the developer, and we love it. There looks to be some depth too, as your child adds new animals and items to their zoo, and sees how they interact with one another.
For example, we’ve been tickled by watching our tiger zoom around on the scooter we bought for him, while the penguin boots a football around. There’s plenty more to explore in the days and weeks ahead.
We also like the fact that Mr Shingu’s Paper Zoo has a link back to physical play: your children may well want to make these animals from real paper. And the instructions are so clear, your clumsy fingers may even be up to the task!