I have had the chance to try a lot of apps from Disney Digital Books and Disney Winnie the Pooh – Pooh’s Birthday Surprise is one of my favorites so far. It combines a cute story with engaging graphics, animations, activities.
The premise of the story is that it’s Winnie the Pooh’s birthday and his friends are throwing him a surprise party. Pooh visits each of his friends, but they are too busy to play. Kids have the chance to help out with the party by making and decorating cupcakes, wrapping gifts and putting up decorations. The activities focus on matching patterns, shapes, and colors.
The app automatically reads the story aloud, highlighting words as they are read. Kids can touch the words to have them read again. One some pages, kids will find a highlighted word. If they touch it, something will happen on the page to show what the word means. For example, touching the word “friends” highlights the pictures of Pooh’s friends on that page. Most of the pages also have additional hotspots that can add to the story or cause something fun to happen.
The menu system in this digital book is also much more kid friendly than in past offerings. A menu button calls up pictures that allow kids to find their favorite spot in the story. The parenting information is accessed from a subtle section at the bottom of the page. This was on of my biggest complaints in the past about Disney Digital Books for young kids and I’m thrilled that they’ve found such an elegant solution.
The Parent Page includes directions on using the app, an overview of the story, suggestions for talking about the content in the app, credits, an ad for other Disney apps, and a place to sign up for an email newsletter. It’s all clearly laid out.
I do have one small issue with Pooh’s Birthday Surprise. There is no opportunity for the child to use their own creativity which my four year old daughter found frustrating. Even as I read through on my own, I wanted to decorate my own cupcake, without having to use the pattern the story requested. This is a wonderful app, but it would be nearly perfect with some open-ended play options added in.
Disney Winnie the Pooh – Pooh’s Birthday Surprise gets a thumbs up from me, and my daughter, for being applicious. It’s available for $4.99 on the iPhone, iPod, and iPad at the iTunes App Store.
Disclosure: We received a complimentary copy of this app for review purposes. There was no promise of a positive review and the opinions contained in this post are our own.