Last week, award-winning developer Snowman teased the launch of its exciting new app for kids – Pok Pok. Through Snowman’s spin-off studio of the same name, the new digital playroom is now officially here and offers a focus on imaginative, creative play for kids from 2-6 years old. It features amazing hand-drawn art, wonderful sound effects, a design that provides an engaging experience without being overly stimulating, and so much to explore. Read along for more details and what I’ve found while testing Pok Pok with my four-year-old son.
Pok Pok Playroom takes a deeply thoughtful approach to every aspect of the app, from the handcrafted digital toys to the seamless UI, the intuitive multi-touch implementation to the delightful sound effects. And as part of the process, the creators have worked with teachers, early childhood researchers, sensory experts, and diversity consultants from around the globe to get it dialed in just right.
Pok Pok says its digital playroom is designed to “spark imagination, creativity and learning through open-ended play,” and after trying it out for the last few months with my son, I’m excited to say it really delivers on that mission.
Pok Pok was co-founded by Snowman’s Esther Huybreghts and Mathijs Demaeght with Esther serving as the new studio’s creative director and Mathijs the design director. And Snowman founder Ryan Cash’s sister, Melissa Cash, who has a background in creating children’s products at Disney is leading Pok Pok Studio as CEO.
The idea for the app came when Esther and Mathijs wondered what it would be like to create a digital version of their sons’ playroom and had trouble finding compelling options in the App Store.
Hands-on with Pok Pok Playroom
Pok Pok Playroom includes six toys: busy board, busy book, silly blocks, musical blobs, drawing, and town. From the first time opening Pok Pok, my four-year-old son intuitively navigated the app without having to ask for any help.
There are no ads, in-app purchases, interruptions, or clunky elements. As Pok Pok puts it: “Kids will never see anything but the toys—not even text or language.”
Here’s a look at the main screen:
When inside a Pok Pok toy, a simple circular icon shows up in the top left corner to get back to the main screen.
With a majority of games and apps on the App Store being designed around objectives, rules, and “winning,” it’s really refreshing to have an app where my son can just focus on exploring and trying ideas with the reward being the fun of the process.
While that may sound too open-ended to some at first, each of the toys in Pok Pok was designed to “foster cognitive and socio-emotional development while introducing key learning concepts that kids can discover through play.” And for times that you’d like to add more structure, Pok Pok has worked with educators to create learning prompts for parents to use with kids.
While my son’s enjoyed all of the digital toys in Pok Pok, he’s been particularly drawn to the busy board, busy book, and town. Let’s dive into each of those.
With the town toy, there’s just so much possible – really endless ways to play and be creative. You’ve got all the staples of a city like a grocery store, post office, library, fire station, hospital, school, and barber/hair salon. But there’s much more like winding river, farm, recycling/trash center, forest/camping area, amusement park, construction site, car wash, car charging station, farmers’ market, and playground – and you can interact with everything through a diverse set of people, animals, vehicles, and more.
This is a really neat toy with a huge variety of items to tinker with. You’ve got buttons, switches, knobs, levers, wheels, gears, synth pad, scissors, thermostat, lock, timer, clock, and more.
My son really loves the multi-touch support which means he can tinker with multiple items at a time as well as all of the fun and interesting sound effects that each one makes.
There are a range of items you won’t see in the real world and things that you will. What stands out to me is that the busy board really encourages kids to experiment to learn how the mechanics of different things work and the satisfaction of figuring things out.
Busy book is such a fun experience. It feels like a modern, robust GIF encyclopedia but like the rest of Pok Pok, is all beautifully hand drawn with unique sounds effects for every item.
You can swipe to explore everything in the busy book or also use the shortcut icons at the top to jump between sections. The level of detail here is just astounding.
My son loves exploring this and we’ll often do it as a calm activity before bed. I also really enjoy watching him make connections between real-life experiences and what we explore in the busy book.
Try out Pok Pok
As you’ve already guessed if you’ve read this far, I think Pok Pok is a must-have app for kids that’s beautiful, fun, engaging, and develops the skills and experience that are crucial for our kids – creativity, the joy of learning, and a growth mindset.
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