Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Staff Review: Dr. Panda's Restaurant

Purpose of App: Introduce children to cooking with fun mini games

Strengths: Highly interactive, realistic details, teaches life skills, engaging and fun app

Weaknesses: Lacks a wide variety of food choices, the way a child sets a table or makes a food is not the way it is presented, could benefit from some level of language

Suggested Audience: Toddlers and preschoolers

Number of Reviewers: 5



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Dr. Panda's Restaurant

iTunes App description:
In this app, kids will be introduced to cooking through fun and exciting mini-games. They will be exposed to a wide range of foods as Dr. Panda has a recipe book which contains 10 different dishes and drinks. Among many others, it includes pizza, apple pie, corn soup, Chinese wok and fruit milkshakes.
                          Total reviews: 5
                          Developer: TribePlay

Heather S.
Rating

Strengths

This is a very cute app for young children to free play with.  I really like that it goes step by step through making different dishes and allows the child to interact each step of the way. The child is able to perform many tasks that are completed when cooking. It incorporates life skill lessons, such as cooking, clearing the table and setting a table. There are many hidden interactions that a child can find by clicking around. There is a recycling mini game that adds an extra component to the app.
Suggestions
Dr. Panda's Restaurant would benefit from having more food choices. An older child may become bored easily when making the same recipes over and over. I like that a child can set the table, but I wish the table was still set that way when exiting the mini game. No matter how a child sets the table, it always remains the same. The food that is made is not always what the finished product looks like. I wish it saved the exact way it was made before being served.
General opinion
Overall, this is a very engaging app that a young child can enjoy playing with. A child will not even realize the skills that they are learning, which I think is great. It is set to be free play with no time limit, so a child will not become easily frustrated with the app. It is a good app for the $1.99 price, but would be a little better with more food options, ability to change the shown table and if the food looked the same when served as it does when made.
Rachel H.
Rating
Strengths
The realistic details in the cooking steps are great! For instance, it has the child chop the onion in two different directions to create diced onion. I also appreciate sneaking in little life skills for the kids like setting and clearing the table and washing the dishes. It really helps kids learn what needs to happen in the kitchen and dining room. I like that kids are able to explore and play freely. All the little hidden details make kids want to really explore. Clicking on lights in the dining-room turn them on and off, kids can click the table cloth and set the table, or click the recycle bins to go to a sorting mini game. There is no penalty for not getting things right other than it may take longer.
Suggestions
It would be great if the food designed by the child was what was set in front of the animal. My daughter made a smiley face pizza and she was disappointed that what was put in front of the Elephant was not her design. Though not a necessity, it would be nice if a child put a lot of work into the design of a dish, for that to be the one delivered. Also, to boost the educational value, perhaps label the ingredients or have numbers appear to count along when chopping or adding ingredients to the dish. Also, as a parent, I would like a tips and tricks type section on the parents screen. Something which could point out that tapping the candles lights them, or tapping the table cloth leads to a mini game to set the table. Then I could easily prompt my son, "What happens when you touch there?" if he is having difficulty getting started.
General opinion
My kids and I enjoy all the Dr Panda games, but this one seems to be the current favorite. It is fun to find the little details within the game like changing the spiders colors in the dining room or being able to feed the mouse under the table. My son, who has major food aversions, likes that he can "cook like mom" without having his sensory issues overwhelm him.
Heather H.
Rating
Strengths

The familiar Dr. Panda characters appeal to children. The cooking skills are remarkably accurate for a cartoon app—the knife and hand are positioned perfectly to slice vegetables, and the ingredients are varied and have a healthy bent. A variety of foods and kitchen tools are demonstrated, and I was surprised at the variety of foods prepared. There are also some child-friendly chore activities in the app. After each character eats, the child also clears the dishes, a great way to reinforce what is likely a familiar chore for most kids. There is also an activity to practice setting the table, and a recycling sort to complete.
Suggestions

The characters may be animals, but even so it would be nice to take bites of the food instead of all at once. Though the style of Dr. Panda apps is to use no words, the ingredients and tools may be unfamiliar to children, and naming the onion, kiwi and juicer would be great for vocabulary development. The chocolate fondue was difficult to navigate (I had to call in for backup to figure out how to get the fruit into the chocolate). I would like to see the user mix up cookies, too, instead of just decorating a gingerbread man. There were also several recipes where it would be great for kids to make a choice between ingredients, like in the fruit smoothie recipe. Instead of just chocolate syrup on toast (which I have never, ever seen before), why not let the user choose between butter, jam, and chocolate syrup?
General opinion

I can’t help but love this app—my six year old daughter is a huge Dr. Panda fan, and she keeps running to me with recipe requests. To make best use of this app, play it with young children to provide the vocabulary input then find easy recipes to make together.
Rachel J.
Rating
Strengths


Being a speech-language pathologist, I could fit this app easily into one of my sessions with a preschool student. Things like sequencing, cause and effect, and basic concepts (“put the chocolate ON the toast”, etc.) are really evident in this app. It also has quality Dr. Panda graphics that fans have grown to know and love. Cute characters and graphics only add to the experience. Gestures and maneuvering around the app are simple and easy which makes this app pretty accessible to a lot of little users. I like that they included the two always-ready activities of sorting recycling and washing dishes.
Suggestions


This app is great for pre-k students, but that’s really where the target population stops.  I would love to see more steps/activities in each menu item.  Adding additional menu items to each character could up the challenge and complexity for older kiddos.  Most of the recipes are simple to follow, but since it’s a no reading/speaking app, some kiddos may need a little assistance getting started. 
General opinion


Dr. Panda Restaurant didn’t necessarily recreate anything wonderful on the app market, but for fans of the busy, talented panda, this app does not disappoint. Activities can become a little repetitive, which doesn’t always go over well with short attention spans. I can definitely see myself using this app in a speech therapy session to target things with very little learners such as food vocabulary, verbs, and sequencing.

Cynthia
Rating
Strengths
The set-up is clear and easy to follow. Users are led through tasks with subtle sparkles, shakes and Dr. Panda's paw to direct play. Games are completed with minimal effort and there's no need for highly defined motor skills and many of the games, like chopping onions, will help improve motor skills. Dr. Panda Restaurant has done a great job making typical app game play such as shape matching (placing decorations on cookies) and sorting (putting recycling in the correct bins) subtle and engaging. My favorite part of this app is six second pie. Seriously, who doesn't love a pie made in six seconds?
Suggestions
The only thing I wish this app would do was give choices of foods. As I mentioned, I loved making six-second pie, but I had to continue playing through characters until pie cycled through the rotation again. I think giving users some additional choices either on a menu or in the thought bubble above animal customer heads might give a bit more control to children and keep them coming back for their favorite dishes, like pie.
General opinion
Dr. Panda Restaurant is marketed to kids zero through five. Kids throughout that age spectrum can have a lot of fun, but older children in the upper end of that age recommendation might wish for more choices. The app works beautifully and the characters are loveable as they prompt little chefs through fun cause-and-effect play, shape matching, sorting and fine motor skills building.

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