I’m so excited to bring you this interview with Sago Mini! I’ve been a huge fan of their work since the early days of kids apps and after a chance to visit their offices in Toronto in the fall of 2015, I became even more impressed with the level of dedication they put into creating high quality apps for the very youngest users. I love how they create “digital toys” that focus on pure play rather than insisting that all of their apps must teach kids academic skills. All of their apps are intuitive enough for a two-year-old to use, but so engaging that even older kids (and adults) love to play them as well. I’ve seen other companies try to copy their style but none come close to the polish or quality of the original.
Their most recent app release, “Puppy Preschool” does have some light educational content. As a bonus for readers of the Cooney Center blog, I asked Aaron if he could tell us why they decided to try this more ‘educational’ approach since it seems like a bit of a departure from the rest of their collection. Here’s his reply:
We consider all our apps to be educational in the sense that children learn best through play and experimentation, but once in awhile we do make an app that is more “traditionally educational”. Our first app like this was “Pet Cafe” which featured counting, shape matching and colours, and “Puppy Preschool” is a continuation of this more structured approach – but with cute dogs!
As to why, there’s no single reason, although I suppose some reasons could include wanting to accommodate parents who are looking for that more traditional education approach, while another reason might be to challenge ourselves creatively, as these types of apps are actually quite difficult to make engaging.
However, our primary goal remains for children to simply have fun playing with the characters and exploring the app instead of overtly forcing them to “learn” something. And if filling a wading pool full of wet puppies does help a kid learn to count, then that’s a bonus!
Listen to the episode to learn the secret to their success, how they came up with the idea for Forest Flyer and how old each of their animal characters are. The App Fairy and the Bad App Fairy also make return appearances!
One of my favorite things about visiting their offices was seeing artist Aaron Leighton’s original sketchbooks filled with the artwork that is so familiar from their apps, and I’m excited to share some samples from those sketchbooks on the App Fairy website now.