How many times do we reluctantly hand over the iPad to our little ones, only to have our nerves brought close to breaking point by the jarring sounds that some apps can make? For any parent who has suffered from Elmo overload, Bop Underwater is a soothing exception to the rule. Instead of ear-piercing noises and annoying voices, the puzzle-making app only occasionally emits soft, musical sounds — think of a gentle bell at the end of a yoga class. Otherwise, it’s mostly silent as kids drag, drop and immerse themselves in a stunningly designed underwater environment. There’s no narration here.
The set up may be slightly preposterous: Bop, the curious mole, likes to explore the ocean. Make much sense? Of course not. It’s part of a whimsical world where kids can interact with a variety of challenges like matching shapes to assemble a submarine, connecting like-with-like objects, early counting and other activities. Kids learn as they go and if they get stuck in “What do I do now?” moments, a helpful ladybug will scamper by with playful hints. Can’t figure out how to place the buttons in the sea urchin? The friendly ladybug can assist.
What makes the app even better is the fact that all of the scenes are made out of beautifully scanned pieces of fabric — look for lace, linen, rickrack all artfully blended into the seascape. It’s an unexpected touch that gives Bop Underwater a feel that is both cutting-edge and cozy. Part high-tech, part homemade, it’s the perfect sweet spot for very young kids.
Which brings us to our final point: This app is great for very young kids. And by very young, we mean mostly 2- and 3-year-olds. With a total of a dozen scenes, older kids could find that it becomes somewhat repetitive and less engaging.
Purchase Bop Underwater here.