App Review
Toca Tea Party

Pretend play meets social skills at this cute interactive gathering

  • Shapes guide kids where to place items on the table.

  • Lots of yummy party food to choose from (and kids can even light candles).

  • Now get your guests (real or imagined)!

  • Oops. Time to clean up the spill. It's okay, Guest.

Quick Take
Pros: Organized gameplay with lots of fun choices empowers kids to set up a charming, custom tea party.
Cons: No verbal or visual prompts to suggest party etiquette -- it's up to adults to share their knowledge.
Bottom Line: Beautiful, imagination-provoking app is so easy to use, kids will likely want to return for many more parties.
Learning Scores
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The adorable, hand-drawn, colorful graphics and full-screen "table" engage kids in imaginative play and -- with real-life friends or parents -- social play. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Provides kids with lots of choices, encouraging planning and thinking skills, and promotes imagination and social skills. All these are baked in to a whimsical tea party experience. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

No reading required. Shapes appear on the screen to guide kids as to where to place items on the table.

Our Review
What's It Like?

Toca Tea Party is like having a traditional tea party for kids but without the breakable, spillable teacups. The on-screen party includes a variety of pretty mini-cakes and cookies, drinks, tablecloths, plates, and cups kids can choose from, and more. Once kids get a tea party for three set up on the iPad's screen (which becomes the table), they can invite their friends around the table to pretend to eat and drink -- and even "clean up" an imaginary spill -- at their custom soiree.

Kids simply start setting up the tea party on the iPad screen. Choose one of three tablecloths by tapping and dragging it to the center of the "table." Then tap candles to light and drag the three plates to their places. Circles appear to show kids where to set items. Choose from four different cups with three drinks (tea, lemonade, or hot cocoa) and the food. Then kids are prompted, "Get your guests!" Bring everyone around the iPad table and start the party. Tap items to serve, eat, drink, refill, even change the music on the radio. Enjoy!

Is It Good For Learning?

Kids can engage their imagination, as well as practice table manners and social skills while playing with Toca Tea Party. As they make choices for what items to include on the table and what food and drink to serve, kids are exercising decision-making: "What do I think makes a good party?" Each planning choice shows social respect for their guests. If you facilitate further exploration, kids can also practice shape recognition and counting the various groups of cakes, cups, and more choices. It also rewards kids with cool sounds like pouring tea, and they get to watch the food disappear bite by bite as their guests tap on the food to "eat" it. Kids may be more familiar with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so they can learn how this purely social snack time works.

The most unique aspect of this sweet imaginative play app is that it extends screen play into real life. As they have fun organizing all the items on Toca Tea Party's table on the iPad and then serving their friends at the tea party, kids are growing their imaginations and social skills.

How Can Teachers Use It?

In the classroom, this app's learning and entertainment sweet spot spans pre-K to first grade. You may want to model simple, respectful, polite behavior when eating with others and at parties. For example, showing kids how you use "please" and "thank you" when asking for and receiving the pretend food and drink at the tea party can help them develop those social skills. You can also encourage kids to plan a party together, thereby participating in conversations about party planning and growing in collaborative communication. You may want to facilitate some math skills practice by asking kids to point out some shapes in the various foods, of the plates, and of other items on the table. Kids can also count items in related groups and make some more than/less than comparisons among the liquid in the three cups and the food on the three plates.

This review of Toca Tea Party was written by