Goodnight Safari by Polk Street Press was the very first children’s app i downloaded for my daughter when i got my iPad. since then i have downloaded and tried hundreds more—and subsequently deleted nearly all of them—but Goodnight Safari remains in a place of honour on my home screen, as one of our favourite apps to enjoy together.
my daughter is not quite one year old, but she’s very bright and has been in her “pointy phase” for some time now. she loves to point at things everywhere, especially in her storybooks, and i am amazed at how quickly she is learning to identify words, pictures, people and objects. since she still hasn’t developed fine motor coordination, the perfect apps for her are those that require no more than a simple touch to activate motion and sound. at first, i thought Goodnight Safari would be a bit too advanced for her, but was surprised by how much she enjoyed it, and how quickly she learned to touch the animals in each scene after watching me demonstrate only a few times.
as touched on in my earlier post about Miffy, i am careful to limit my daughter’s screen time, and very picky about the content i allow her to see. i dislike shows/videos/apps that are flashy, loud and overstimulating, and seek out content that is gentle in both its message and presentation. Goodnight Safari definitely hits that sweet spot. the beautiful, craft-textured graphics are “soft” and inviting, the narration and sound effects are calming and relaxing, and the theme of animal mothers and babies getting ready for bed is simple and sweet.
the activities on each page (i.e., touching the animals to help them eat, bathe, snuggle with their mothers) are simple enough for my infant daughter to accomplish with little difficulty. i like to let the narrator read the story text first, then i’ll coach my peanut in the activities and help teach her the animal names by repeating simple instructions like “Touch the zebra” or “Touch the hippo” until the task is accomplished, then i’ll say “Next page!” when it’s time to move forward. parents may also disable the voice-over narration if they prefer to read the story to their children themselves.
there are additional interactive elements on each page, like other small animals that respond when touched, and trees with rustling branches that you can shake to make fruit fall. the app responds to both touching and shaking.
Goodnight Safari is available for free through the iOS App Store. the free version is essentially an interactive storybook, with content suitable for even the youngest infants (parents can simply read the story to babies too young to engage in the interactive activities).
for little ones that are a wee bit bigger, there is a premium companion app, Goodnight Safari Playtime, which costs only $1.99. GSPlaytime features six educational games that teach animal names, spelling, shape recognition, drawing/colouring and more. Parents can set up an online account to track their child’s progress. (we haven’t tried this app yet, but i’m sure my monkey will love it when she’s a bit older!)