By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar
For many of us moms who have been to India, the monuments alone are filled with history, but having to explain that history or culture to young kids travelling with you isn’t easy. One female duo has come up with an app to do just that! We talked to the founders of Tamarind Tots, Aarti Khanna and Shameeli Sinha about their Discover Indian Monuments App, which has been featured six times on “What’s hot” list of Apps in over 30 countries.
Khanna says they talked to a mommy research group as well as schools about aspects of Indian culture that kids in our target age group of 2 to 6 yrs would best appreciate and learn from- Monuments ranked very highly, second only to Festivals.
“Monuments are such an integral part of India’s history. With this App, kids can appreciate the richness of diversity in India. We have picked monuments spread out around the country that represent a mix of religions, cultures, architectural styles, and different periods in Indian history,” says Khanna. “Last but not least, India has such beautiful and amazing monuments but none, other than Taj Mahal, are ever showcased through popular books/ media. We decided to take the lead on this topic, and took on the challenge of presenting the wealth of historical information about these monuments with humor, Q&A, and anecdotes for kids to enjoy.”
She adds, “Payoff for us has been in the form of many moms telling us that their kids insisted on visiting these monuments during their travels to India, and were able to ask a million questions of the guide based on the information they had absorbed from this App.”
Here’s more from our interview on the app:
1. How does a child learn the monuments, walk us through the dots, and eraser games.
Our approach at Tamarind Tots is to build “Edutainment” Apps wherein kids learn as they play. Research suggests that kids, aged 2 to 6 yrs, learn best at their own pace with short bursts of interactive activities. We have used this same approach while developing the Monuments App.
First off, the look & feel of this App, like all of our other Apps, is very vibrant, colorful, and playful so as to appeal to children, especially since History and Geography can be somewhat “heavy”.
In terms of the learning process, we have a Discover-Explore-Reinforce philosophy with this App.
a. DISCOVER: We start off by appealing to the discoverer in your child. Children discover each monument through a hands-on activity. They can “connect the dots” to construct some of the monuments and the Map of India. They can reveal some other monuments with the “magic eraser” activity (similar to the card scratching activity we all did as kids). When they complete an activity, they see a real-life, high resolution picture of the monument and can take in all the details. For the Map of India, kids can then label each of the States on the iPad, which gives them a great introduction to India’s geography.
b. EXPLORE: The heart of the App, is a section called “Lets Explore” that has nuggets of historical facts/popular stories about each monument. This segment is like a travel journal. Kids can choose any monument on the Map of India to explore. Every monument page has several tabs with funny, animated icons. Kids click on a tab and open the fact scroll to read about it. We have voiceovers throughout for our youngest users. Kids collect stars as they go which motivates them to keep going.
We have put in a lot of thought and research into making this section fun for kids. All facts are written with humor, Q&A, and with anecdotes that are sure to make kids laugh and think!
c. REINFORCE: The third segment is a museum-like picture gallery of beautiful, detailed photos that highlight some important aspects of these monuments.
We use every opportunity in the App to “sneak in” India related learning. The background score on many pages is classically Indian with the beats of the tabla and an instrumental version of “Saare jahaan se accha”. The menu pages are a delight for kids. For instance, the audio settings page has the sounds of a harmonium; the activity menu page has colorful, animated kites and pinwheels.
What ages is the App for?
While the target audience for Tamarind Tots is children, across the world, 2 to 6 years of age, we are finding that the Monuments App is appealing to kids 2 to 8 years of age. The navigation is very kid-friendly, and we have voiceovers throughout the App for our youngest users.
How can parents play a role in using the app to teach their kids? What role should parents play here?
The App is built for “self play”. For kids 2 to 3 yrs of age, parents will need to demonstrate some of the activities at first, and toddlers are sure to pick it up right away.
From our experience, we find that after playing this App, children have lots of questions pertaining to all the information in the “Let’s explore” section, e.g., how does the Sundial at Sun Temple work, how much gold is in the Golden Temple, and many more! This is an opportunity for Indian parents to share their memories about India and for parents/teachers to do collaborative research/journal activity with kids – get online and dig deeper into each monument!
Parents and teachers should also use this App to talk to kids about the rich cultural and religious diversity, and history of India.
How often can kids play the games?
We find that younger kids go back to the App many times to play the activities – connect the dots, magic eraser, map of India, explore- over and over. With relatively older kids (5 to 8 yrs), we find that they enjoy the App activities four to five times after which they like to spend more time exploring and absorbing the fun facts, and are then ready to dig deeper with online resources.
Where is the App available and for how much?
The App is available on the iTunes App store –for the iPad and the iPhone. The links are provided below. While the App retails for USD 0.99 each, it is available for free till December 2013 as we try to build brand awareness of Tamarind Tots.
To get the app click below:
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