I love Toca Boca’s iPhone apps for kids. They aren't games; they are open-ended interactive toys. The art is beautiful. (So many other kids' apps have depressing 1970s Saturday morning cartoon style art.) Also, they have no in-app purchases! Jane and I have reviewed a bunch of Toca Boca apps on our podcast, Apps for Kids. Our favorites include Toca Doctor, Toca Hair Salon, Toca Train, and Toca Band.
Here's an interview with Jens Peter de Pedro, creative director for Toca Boca, about kids' education in Scandinvia:
We trust children with freedom to a larger extent. For instance, no grades are given until age 12, which I would say is proof that we trust children longer to learn without threats. School itself starts later, at age seven. There are little academics before then. The goal for a child at seven is to be able to write his or her name and to know that reading is done form left to right. Other than that, it’s all play, and some exercises are meant to foster students’ sense of trust and safety in each other.
We also hold a very romantic view of nature which relates to our view of children. We believe in our hearts that the forest is the ultimate backdrop for childhood. Nature is there for children to explore and develop independence. Scandinavia has many forest schools. These are preschools that have only a small indoor space that the children spend a minimal amount of time in, only really during extreme weather conditions. Other than that children are dropped off, picked up, eat, play and sleep outdoors. In Sweden, there are about 200 schools like this, which means every larger town has one or two.
Toca talks: Why freedom is best for kids and apps (Thanks, Bob!)