We were recently offer the opportunity to review the Land of Me software, a new online resource which is now under the Ladybird Ltd umbrella. I warmed to this company pretty immediately as they had clearly read the blog, knew April was a bad time for us and were thoughtful in their approach. It makes a real difference when people behave like that, as I know from running my own business so I already liked them from the start. AND they are very friendly on Twitter too 🙂
Land of Me is a learning experience aimed at 2-6 year olds, so with only Josie in that bracket – and very close to the top of it too – I wasn’t sure what we’d make of it. I downloaded the first few chapters, had a quick pootle about and then let her loose.
Land of Me is based around several fairly simple scenarios, which encourage children to use their imagination alongside some online friends. The games are word based, allowing children to alter a picture or scenario by changing simple words. Each game has a word and pictorial instruction set, so different abilities can use it. The games cover the basic early learning areas like size, shape and colour.
Josie was amused by the games, although being at the top of the age range, they didn’t take her long to complete. That isn’t really the point though, they aren’t designed to be moved through with clear goals; this is a sort of environment, a world that can be used according to interest and need. It reminded me very much of Winnie the Pooh, both in look and feel; a gently paced, softly spoken story.
What we liked: This is a beautifully thought out package. The art is divine and truly something to behold, the music gentle and unobtrusive and the characters are sweet and appealing. There is lots to look at and some of the scenarios change with new visits so give you lots to talk about. The way each set of choices translates into a new cartoon animation is funny and there has clearly been a lot of time spent on making it properly charming to watch and interact with.
Things to Consider: This is not software to purchase if you want to plonk your child down in front of something and let the computer babysit. There are no big flashy buttons making it super easy to navigate, part of the charm of it is that it is quite a grown up environment and works as normal software does which may mean the child needs guidence initially. The idea of the Land of Me seems to be? really that you enjoy it together; it was very obvious that although Josie could do this alone, she wanted to be sat with someone to laugh at the different pictures with. It’s something that will work brilliant with family groups of young children or in playgroups and schools. Left alone, a child may play it for a while, but is very likely to want you alongside them to enjoy it together. And you will, because it is beautiful.
Other Thoughts: I think the real value in the Land of Me software comes in two packages. It’s like a really good picture book in many ways, that recognition that things do not have to be CBeebies or NickJr to be adored. It’s The Gruffalo of computer games. What you draw out from it, the conversations that happen and the games that happen afterwards, is in many ways what you pay for. If you purchase it simply to be a educational or occupying tool on its own, it may not do what you want. It’s a great tool for getting children and parents interacting with one another, being imaginative and then working together beyond the computer.
The other wonderful thing is this; encased in the programme are dozens of printable activities. They are beautifully designed and thought out, from dioramas to masks and more. Josie may have loved the game but I suspect I’m going to find all of them, probably even Fran, will enjoy some of the crafts that come along with it and those will, in turn, pull all the children back to the software and make them firm friends with the characters.
I also highly recommend you check out their blog, which is interesting and covers many aspects of the benefits of Land of Me. I was especially moved by the focus this week on a little special needs boy called Freddie.
Disclosure: I was given full access to the Land of Me in exchange for this review.
This week we have also explored Reading Eggs, which is without doubt the best learn to read website I have come across, even beating
StudyDog – and that’s saying something! Josie has been transfixed by it all week and has already worked through a map and a half. The site has a reading ability test which seemed pretty spot on to me and works through fun games with interesting words and great graphics in a logical and sensibly paced way. I’ve paid for her to do 6 months on it now and I’m pretty confident she’ll be reading by the end of that. Well done, Reading Eggs 🙂