Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Enter Vacation Mode with Toca Life: Vacation!

Toca Boca's "Life" series aims to reproduce real-world settings as a context for play with characters and the objects they encounter in indoor and outdoor places. As a result, the series provides a visual play space for us to work with students as they tell stories, make connections, and enact everyday sequences. The latest, Toca Life: Vacation, is another wonderful, visually rich, and highly interactive app you can use to take students on imaginary trips to this beach-y location.

The app contains a number of settings including an airport, hotel, beach, and boardwalk, the many spaces within each setting and interactive objects providing great opportunities to role-play, propose problems and solutions, and consider if-then scenarios (important for executive functioning!). The trailer is below:

Language Lens:
-Consider recommending Toca Life: Vacation to parents as an interactive way to preview an upcoming vacation, complete with the travails of navigating airport security, riding on a plane, checking into a hotel, and sharing a bed with a sibling.
-For your part, the record feature of this app lends potential planning and role-playing a bit more of a purpose: let's make a vacation movie together!
-I am just beginning to absorb the huge amount of ideas and resources for developing language and social interaction through play provided in Social Thinking®'s new We Thinkers: Volume 2 Social Problem Solvers Kit. The manual details a model for scaffolding play with fading adult involvement, and the "GPS- Group Collaboration, Play, and Problem Solving" framework can apply to the use of these open-ended sandbox apps as well as offline play. For example, the program's "Group Play Plan" form could be used for the adult to choose a scene and assign roles to form a story (Level 3) or for kids to collaborate in this process (Level 4). One good strategy is to screenshot a scene or two within Toca Life: Vacation to use as a visual support as you make a "Group Plan" for play.

I hope you have fun going on real or pretend vacations this summer. I'm going to take off for a few weeks myself, heading to Cape Cod and, later, Acadia National Park in Maine! See you in August!

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