In the summer of 2014 the Plant A Seed & See What Grows foundation posted an article on the Ten Best Health and Nutrition Education Apps for Kids. We briefly touched on a couple of gardening/farming themes in the post but in the world of mobile applications word gets out about new and updated ones faster than a sunflower germinates. With 2015 upon us we thought to deliver a more focused app recommendation list to carry your smartphone and tablet savvy kids into the planting season ahead. We’ve once again taken into consideration functionality, education, and of course…fun. Whether your kids have already expressed an interest in cultivating produce (not when we put it that way?) or they are about to be introduced to the concept for the first time, the following apps will give them a healthy head-start on smart gardening and farming.
Five Recommended Gardening and Farming Themed Mobile Apps for Kids in 2015
1. Happy Little Farmer
The entire lifecycle of plants is covered by the Happy Little Farmer app. From soil preparation to final harvesting your children won’t miss a thing. Through a functionally sound series of smartphone/tablet actions (tilting, pinching, tapping, dragging and dropping, etc…) young participants get to rake, dig, trim, and water while navigating their virtual fruit and vegetable farm to a soundtrack of classics such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. Creators of the app know that kids need a little more to keep them engaged for hours on end so in addition to the cultivating of their crops they get to battle pesky plant eating bugs and feed a hungry blue monster. Success through varying levels of the game is awarded with stickers and prizes, a form of positive reinforcement that leads to a growing collection which further encourages your children to keep playing. Happy Little Farmer is recommended for ages five and under. (GiggleUps Kids App and Educational Games Pty Ltd – $2.99 iTunes/Android)
2. Roo’s Fabulous Edible Garden
Children learn how to grow their own nutritious food in their very own digital garden under the tutelage of Read-A-Roo the kangaroo with this gardening app. The entire lifecycle is made evident here as well. Participants prepare soil, dig holes, pick seeds and plant them, before moving on to watering, weeding, and keeping the garden free of bugs. This app even goes beyond the life cycle of planting, as it delves into the seed-to-table concept, providing children with recipes to make delicious and nutritious snacks from the very same produce they themselves have grown. Once your kids decide to take a break from swiping and tapping they can kick back with Read-A-Roo’s pal Miss Joy as she takes them through a video journey of how to grow plants in the varying climates of the world. Roo’s Fabulous Edible Garden is recommended for ages six to eight but is appropriate for any age. (UNC TV – FREE iTunes)
3. Dr. Panda’s Veggie Garden
Children cultivate and harvest over a dozen fruits and vegetables in this fun gardening app for kids. There are 30 separate steps involved in the entire process (including the expected actions of digging, plowing, seeding, watering, and harvesting) yet your children will never feel as if they are performing a laborious task as the colorful app keeps things entertaining and engaging all the way through. One thing that makes Dr. Panda’s Veggie Garden unique from the other gardening apps is that customers are integrated into the process, with cute farm animals filling in for those roles. Dr Panda thus incorporates not only the gardening life cycle and the seed-to-table process, it adds the seed-to-consumer element as well. Your children will truly be invested in their virtual garden, and may even become budding organic produce entrepreneurs because of it. Dr Panda’s Veggie Garden is recommended for ages five and under. (TribePlay – $2.99 iTunes)
4. Plants HD
This plant-centric app is a well-reviewed online resource for children and their parents/teachers. Plants HD gets right into the more intensive parts of the plant lifecycle, providing children with greater insight into seeds, flowers, trees, fruits, and even the natural dispersal of seeds into their surrounding environment. Processes such as germination and pollination are addressed in a scientific yet engaging manner, using a combination of quizzes and games to help young students of the app increase their knowledge in plant life and gardening. There is no shortage of fun yet informative content in Plants HD, giving those that download the app the biggest bang for their iTunes buck. Plants HD is best suited for the five to six year old range. (Sprout Labs, LLC – $2.99 iTunes)
5. Gro Garden
We couldn’t conclude our 2015 list without another mention of Gro Garden, which updated to version 1.1 since we reviewed it months ago. If you perform a search on Google or within your app store of choice pretty much anything having to do with “gardening” and “organic” as it relates to kid-friendly apps will unearth Gro Garden. Users are led by Connie the Compost and her micro-organism buddies on a journey that begins with the consumption of food scraps. The playful protagonists produce nutrient-rich soil to make player crops grow faster and taste better. Once harvested, the vegetables are used to feed the other furry inhabitants of the Gro Garden community, awarding users with prizes and badges in the process. Gro Garden offers not only an edutainment lesson in gardening and farming, but one in sustainability as well, making this a timeless app that we are sure to see updated well into the future. Gro Garden is suggested for children ages six to eight. (Gro Play – $2.99 iTunes / $.99 Android)
Stay tuned as the Plant A Seed and See What Grows Foundation continues to provide parents and teachers with information and recommendations for online resources necessary to help the children of the world live a healthier more self-sustaining life.