I’m the first to say that I’m generally not a fan of computer games for preschoolers – there is so much to do other than be sitting in front of a screen. But there are computer games and then there is something like Land of Me, where really, the computer is just the beginning…
Welcome to the Land of Me, an enchanting, wonderful world created to inspire the imaginations of preschoolers. Land of Me is the first project developed by Made in Me, a group of artists, teachers, developers, parents and friends who believed that most of the educational media aimed at young children could be more imaginative and richer, so they set about creating it.
Land of Me is a collection of creative software applications that allow children and grownups to play together. It is based around the concept of traditional storytelling but where the ‘story’ goes is up to the kids. In the first ‘chapter’ the three main characters – Buddy Boo, Eric and Willow – play a game of ‘let’s pretend’. Together with snow monkey Yama-San, they dream up all kinds of animals, monsters and machines. In the second chapter the friends join Mr Rigby, an eagle, to go exploring.
The computer component of The Land of Me is simply a starting point. Each chapter includes lots of activities to download and print that require scissors, glue, pencils and loads of imagination. There are masks and finger puppets to make, dioramas to build and maps and The Adventurers Log Book to take on your own outdoor adventure.
Made in Me wanted to make something beautiful and enchanting and they have succeeded. Small details such as the calming soundtrack, the exquisite animation (watch the snow monkeys playing in the hot springs in the background) and the use of illustrative and descriptive language sets Land of Me apart. For example, when describing colours, Yama-San asks if it is “…pink like a cherry blossom, red as a lobster or green like the grass?” Similarly, the creatures that are dreamed up can be either big, medium or small – alternate words are then used depending on your child’s selection such as “I want to be massive!” or “I’m a tiny little creature” Small things that add up to a delightful whole.
The first chapter of Land of Me is available for free and subsequent chapters (there are six in total) cost £6.95 to download.