Welcome to Toca Life: Pets! Watch the Gameplay Trailer Here

Toca_Life_Pets_icon_512x512_shadowWhat’s your favorite pet like? Furry and fast? Wet and wiggly? A little bit creepy? With more than 120 animals, Toca Life: Pets has every kind of pet you can imagine. Meet 23 new characters and explore five locations:

  • Pet park. Enjoy the great outdoors with the pets! Take a dip in the rver, have a picnic on the grass, play a game or discover a hidden cave. Or build an agility course to train your pets and test their skills.
  • Pet hotel. Sometimes families go on trips without their pets, but thanks to the pet hotel, pets get a vacation of their own! With lots of cozy spaces, an aquarium and outdoor space, every pet will find a nice spot to play or relax — dog or cat, bird or sloth-bat!

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  • Veterinary. The vet can help sick pets feel better and help healthy pets stay that way! You’ll find pills, drops and the instruments needed to operate on sick or injured pets. Pets can play outdoors or wait on the cozy beds until the vet is ready to see them.
  • Pet shop. Find everything you need for to groom, feed, play with and care for your pets at the pet shop. After shopping, grab a bite to eat at the pet shop cafe, where pets get a table too!
  • Breeder’s bungalow. Here’s where the pet breeder starts and ends their day. The bungalow is, of course, filled with pets — hiding in the greenhouse and playing in the yard and splashing in mud. Don’t worry, the giant bathtub gets everyone clean again!

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Watch the trailer to see Toca Life: Pets in action.

Get Toca Life: Pets on the App Store, Google Play or Amazon Appstore.

Printable Toca Life: Office Activity for Kids Who Love Storytelling

The Toca Life series can be a great way for kids to express their ideas through storytelling, and with Toca Life: Office, they can tell stories of office life the way they imagine it!

Just for fun (your kid’s fun!), we’ve compiled 12 story starters for kids to use for inspiration. They can jump right in to telling their story, or use the storyboard below to plot out a beginning, middle and end for their story. Click the images for printable PDFs.

  • Daycare Drama! The babies have taken over the daycare! What happens when babies are in charge?
  • No Naptime! The babies need rest, but they don’t want to take a nap! Will they keep fighting sleep?
  • Superhero Baby! The tiniest superhero is ready for anything! What good deeds will the baby do today?

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  • Bank Heist. Someone is trying to steal gold from the bank vault! Who will try
    to save the day?
  • Trapped in the Bank. The bank’s security doors have closed and won’t open, and customers are trapped inside! What will they do?
  • The Longest Line. The line at the bank is sooo long! Why is it taking so long, and what will the customers do while they’re waiting?

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  • A Regular Day. It seems like a regular day at the office. People are making copies, working on their computers,
    just doing normal office stuff. But then…
  • Aquarium Rescue. The jellyfish have company in
    the aquarium today! Who is in there and what are they doing?
  • Office Adventure. A secret code on the big desk will reveal a BIG surprise.
    What – or who – could it be?

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  • First Day. It’s the chef’s very first day
    on the job! But…this chef has never cooked anything before! What could possibly go wrong?
  • Secret Escape. There’s a secret exit in the jail that leads to…a superhero costume!
    Is someone plotting a big escape?
  • Keytar Star. When it’s time for a break from solving crimes, a detective turns
    into a keytar star! But not everyone is happy about the courthouse concerts.

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Toca Life: Office Fun Facts, Tips and Other Goodies

Has your kid discovered all the goodies in Toca Life: Office? We asked Daniel Abensour, art director for Toca Life: Office, to create the tips in the Toca Life: Office scenes below.

Here’s the scoop

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Inspiring Workday Creativity Through Play, One Desk at a Time

JRws_Sofia_Mats_Photo_Susanna_BlavargToca Boca and Swedish toy brand Acne JR partnered to create an exclusive collector’s edition of wooden desk toys. Toca Magazine interviewed Acne JR co-founders Mats Johansson and Sofia Ekvall about the their work, the desk toys and the importance of play.

How did the two of you get into the toy business?
Sofia: We met at design school in the mid-1990s. Since then I have been working as a graphic designer, mainly with branding and packaging.

Mats: I started out as an illustrator, with character design and toys as my biggest inspiration. After a few years of freelancing I co-founded the design company Acne where I started developing kids concepts. In 2010 we got married and decided to join forces and create the Acne JR toy line.

What are some of the distinguishing characteristics of Acne JR products?
Mats: Reinventing the classic iconic toys is our main focus. Simplifying the design. Sometimes adding function.

We love working with geometric shapes and always choose quality materials. Our goal is to make toys that will be passed on from generation to generation.

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Acne JR and Toca Boca collaborated to create desk toys. Why desk toys?
Mats: We really like the idea of desk toys in general. Something that you put on your desk to make the working day more enjoyable. Both decorative and playable. An object that inspires creativity and at the same time gets you organized. Balancing between work and play.

How did you bring Acne JR’s unique personality to the collaboration with Toca Boca?
Sofia: We love the Toca Boca characters. Their aesthetics fit our style perfectly. We immediately felt we wanted to turn them into some kind of wooden toy, produced here in Sweden. Simplifying the characters with our geometric style came naturally. Giving the toys individual functions connected to the playfulness of Toca Boca’s digital world.

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Besides the fact that Acne JR makes toys, how does your work embody the spirit of play?
Sofia: Running our own toy shop here in Stockholm gives us the feel of playing every single day. A bit surreal, since it had been a dream of ours for many years. We also get to watch kids and their parents interacting and playing with our products in real life.

The design process is a lot about playing around with materials, colors and design elements. Trying things out. Sketching and drawing is a big part of our work, as well.

Has your perspective on play changed since you were a child?
Mats: Not really. Having three kids of our own keeps us updated on the child perspective. And makes us think of our own childhood constantly.

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Why is it important to play?
Sofia: Play develops kids’ abilities on so many different levels, building their self-confidence and self-esteem. It sparks their imagination and creativity.

Sofia + Mats: Playing is equally important to us grown-ups. To indulge in creating something, a hobby perhaps? Allowing yourself to do something that you do not necessarily have to do. Don’t stop playing!

Welcome to Toca Life: Office! Watch the Gameplay Trailer Here

What do grown-ups really do at work all day? In Toca Life: Office, kids get to tell stories about office life the way they imagine it!

TocaOffice_Office_Assets_IconToca Life: Office looks a lot like a regular office — kids can have everyday fun with laptops, printers and copy machines; have lunch in the cafe; and get cash from the bank. But in Toca Life, even simple office life can lead to an exciting adventure! Find hidden surprises. Hop into a helicopter. Turn regular people into superheroes!

Kids can explore six locations:

  • Daycare. Little ones can play instruments, splash in mud, grow plants outside and slide down the slide on their playground.
  • Bank. The vault holds valuable things and keeps them safe and secure. But if the alarm is triggered, it’s time to spring into action.
  • Office. Use the printer to print documents, then make copies with the copy machine. In the fancy office, solve the desk puzzle to discover an exciting secret.
  • Rooftop. Experiment with food in the cafe to discover new recipes. The rooftop also has a helicopter waiting on the landing pad for when you need to make a quick getaway.
  • Courthouse. Do some detective work and solve a crime. Hold a trial and announce the verdict. Shhh…there’s a secret exit in the jail — will someone escape?
  • Apartment. After a long day, make yourself at home. Cook a meal, take a nap, even wash your clothes in the washing machine.

Watch the trailer to see Toca Life: Office in action.

Get Toca Life: Office on the App Store, Google Play or Amazon Appstore.

Download a Free Toca Lab: Plants Printable Poster

While your kid is busy unlocking all the plant characters in Toca: Lab Plants, surprise them with their very own Toca: Lab: Plants Poster!

The poster features 35 plant characters, so your kid can get a sneak peek at the ones left to unlock. If they’ve already unlocked all the plant characters, the poster is a fun way to commemorate the accomplishment!

You can print the poster here.

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Introducing Toca Lab: Plants!

TocaBoca_Lab_Plants_Icon_512Experiment with plant characters, evolve them into new species and discover their unique personalities. Keep collecting plants until you’ve collected them all! The world of science just got a little bit weirder and a lot more fun with Toca Lab: Plants! Just like with the first app in the Toca Lab Series, Toca Lab: Elements, your curiosity will lead the way. Choose your plant, then visit five different locations in the lab:

  • Grow light: Shine the light on your plant and watch what happens! Does your plant bask and happily sigh in the light, or groan and wriggle away? What happens when you turn the light up a notch or two?
  • Watering tank: Put your plant in the tank and fill it up with water. Will your plant float? How does your plant behave when it’s soaking wet?
  • Nutrition station: What’s the optimal diet for your plant? Try the three different nutrition formulas and discover which ones your plant character likes!
  • Cloning machine: Spin the wheel on the cloning machine and before you know it, you’ll have five little versions of your plant. Wonder what the clones can do? Experiment and find out!
  • Crossbreeding apparatus: Here you can mix two plants to create something unexpected. Try it and see what happens!

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Have fun experimenting at each station to see how the plants evolve. Keep experimenting until you’ve collected all 35 plant characters in the app. Once you’ve collected a plant, keep experimenting to continue to evolve it! Who says kids can’t be scientists? Toca Lab: Plants brings out the budding botanist in everybody!

YouTube Star DanTDM Explains Why Kids Can’t Get Enough of the Platform

Kids are motivated to create content for YouTube by a variety of factors. One of the most popular motivators?: YouTube creators they admire, according to Randy Kulman, Ph.D., of LearningWorks for Kids. “Creating Let’s Play videos inspired by DanTDM is a little bit like a kid playing basketball pretending to be LeBron James or Stephen Curry,” he said. “It’s a way to model oneself after an iconic figure.”

dantdm_trafficWith so many young people finding inspiration in DanTDM — at 14.9 million subscribers he’s one of the most popular YouTube creators in the world — we thought parents might also find inspiration from him. Ahead of the Bay Area stops for the DanTDM tour, we asked DanTDM — aka Daniel Middleton — about what parents should know about their kids and YouTube.

Toca Magazine: It’s commonplace for kids today to aspire to be content creators on YouTube. What is it about YouTube that draws so many kids in?

DanTDM: YouTube is such an accessible platform. Search a person, a game, a question and someone, somewhere will have posted a video about it. It transcends countries, languages, time zones — and in that way it’s a truly amazing platform, able to bring people across the world together.

In this sense, as a kid watching, I can totally see that it feels meaningful and important to engage with. You can be in the comfort of your own home, finding like-minded people across the globe to communicate and learn from. It’s pretty amazing. In terms of becoming a content creator, it is a pretty incredible job and one I love.

One thing I will say though is that I’ve had to work really hard on learning to edit, write and conceive stories, make soundtracks, teach myself about digital marketing, SEO and more. Everything I use and have learned through doing YouTube was all self-taught. It’s not an easy option and as well as working really hard, there are always elements of luck too. I’m very thankful and of course anyone else who wants to have a go — do it!

Toca Magazine: What would you tell the parent who isn’t yet on board with their kid starting a YouTube channel but is open to the idea? What should this parent know?

DanTDM: YouTube isn’t the enemy! As soon as you realize that and embrace the concept it’ll get so much easier. One thing I love about being a creator is there in the name: I get to create. Every day I’m using my imagination, coming up with stories and videos that I think my followers will love; conceiving of and creating characters and creating a story arc for them; artfully editing and adding music to bring new layers to the stories and most importantly communicating and growing with my fans. It’s been a huge learning curve for me, allowing me to become a more confident and digitally intelligent and aware person. As soon as you learn and experience YouTube as a platform WITH your kids, you can both learn and enjoy it.

One thing I love about being a creator is there in the name: I get to create. Every day I’m using my imagination, coming up with stories and videos that I think my followers will love.

Toca Magazine: How can parents gain a better understanding of the creative part of launching a YouTube channel?

DanTDM: If a parent can try and engage with their kid and ask them what channels they are watching and go and watch them it would help massively. For me, I started off making Minecraft videos. Loads of parents couldn’t work out why their kids loved watching me and also loved playing this game so much. But Minecraft is a really creative game. It’s about using the creative and artistic side of your mind to build communities. It’s seriously engaging and pretty inspiring too — you could have a future architect or engineer on your hands! The same goes for whatever kind of channel your child is trying to create. They have to think about where they film it — learning to use the equipment, how the video is edited — to show off the filming that has been done and create a good story arc; compose music; create characters … the list is endless. There is so much artistic and creative endeavor involved in launching a channel.

Toca Magazine: Once a parent is on board with their kid creating a channel, what advice do you have for them?

DanTDM: Find out as much as you can, ask questions and delve deeper into the world of YouTube together. What channels and creators are they watching, and why? What do they like about them? What inspires them when watching these people? What would they like to try and replicate in their own channels? Can you help them with any of it?

Be aware of the comments on a video, as the comments area can be extremely critical and you can get trolls and negative feedback — I get so much. But don’t heed it and keep going. If they know you are there to support them and encourage them, that’s the best support.

Find out as much as you can, ask questions and delve deeper into the world of YouTube together.

Toca Magazine: A parent who has never watched a DanTDM video is taking their kid to your show. Is there anything you can tell them about what to expect (no spoilers!)?

DanTDM: One of the best things about doing this tour across the world has been the parents’ reaction to it. They have loved it. Often they tell me I’m like a member of the family, and seeing and hearing me in person has been great! The story involves characters from my channel as well as a few new ones, and it’s a super-fun adventure about good vs. evil, playing games and getting everyone involved!

Toca Magazine: What’s up next for DanTDM? Where can fans expect to see Dan in the offline world?

DanTDM: I’ve got so much I want to do and being able to bring my fans with me on the adventure has been a dream come true. The USA tour finishes at the end of July, then I’m back to Australia and New Zealand … then let’s see what the future holds!

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Find out if the DanTDM tour is coming to your town.

The Year YouTube Took Over My Family

About a year ago I noticed something.

Suddenly, it seemed, YouTube — and YouTubers — had become a large presence in my family. My daughter was almost as excited to see her favorite YouTube duo on tour as she was to see her favorite band. She started buying YouTuber merch and looking for the latest books from YouTube stars on every trip to Target. My son was spending more and more time watching YouTube videos, mostly about video games. And he really, really wanted to start his own YouTube channel. More on that later.

Fast-forward to today. Dinner conversations at my house regularly include updates on YouTubers’ lives from my 13-year-old daughter (“Mom, Dan and Phil moved today.”) and 11-year-old son (“DanTDM gave away a Nintendo Switch from his bathtub!”). Weekends include projects like baking cakes shaped like Stampy Cat (son) and creating fan art of YouTubers (daughter). And now we’re preparing for two major events: VidCon in Anaheim in June, a trip initiated by my daughter and her friends, and DanTDM on Tour this weekend — a show that all of us are quite excited to see.

What’s the big deal about YouTube, anyway?

YouTube. You either get it or you don’t, right? I like to think that I do get it. I understand that my son loves watching YouTube videos more than almost anything. It’s not weird to me that he likes to watch videos of other people playing video games as much as he likes playing them himself. Or that my daughter watches people play video games that she has no interest in actually playing herself. OK, that’s still a little weird to me. But I get that YouTube — now 12 years old — is just a part of life for kids in a way that it isn’t for many of us who remember life before it existed.

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I reached out to Caroline Knorr, senior parenting editor at Common Sense Media and a former colleague of mine, for some context.

“YouTube is really a huge hub of youth culture,” she told me. “This is where kids go to see cool new stuff, make cool new stuff, watch the latest videos, find out what’s trending on the internet, and catch a glimpse into other kids’ lives. Kids actually consider YouTube an important source of news. But the ‘news’ that they are getting is what is relevant to their lives. There are a lot of people on YouTube who do commentary on internet news, for example memes, viral trends, video games, apps — stuff that kids care about.”

YouTube is really a huge hub of youth culture.

Increased emphasis on content creation

Beyond being a hub of culture for kids consuming media, YouTube is now more than ever a place where kids passionate about an interest — for example, gaming, DIY or video production itself — go to share media they create.

When I was looking at camps for my kids this summer, I noticed multiple programs that specifically mentioned YouTube — something I hadn’t seen in previous years. Galileo’s Summer Quest camp is offering a “YouTube Producers” major for the first time this summer at locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California and the Chicago area. I talked to Heather Murphy, the curriculum developer who authored Galileo’s YouTube Producers major.

“Although we suspected YouTube video production would be a popular course, last year we included it in a survey of possible new majors sent to families for their feedback,” Murphy said. “Overwhelmingly, YouTube Producers was the most popular choice on our list with both parents and kids. This gave us the confidence to bring this curriculum to life.”

 

There are myriad reasons kids want to create for YouTube and even go to camp for YouTube video production. Randy Kulman, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and founder of LearningWorks for Kids, counts deep engagement as one of them. “In my clinical work I regularly hear from kids about their interest in creating their own videos,” he said. “Some of this is simply that they have access to technologies to create and edit videos that were not widely available in the past. However, I believe it speaks to more than access to technology but instead to kid’s interest in watching YouTube videos.

“Even more so than games such as Minecraft,” Kulman continued, “parents report how engaged their kids are while watching videos on YouTube. This engagement leads to kids who want to create their own videos and demonstrate what they are doing to their peers.”

Would you let your kid launch a YouTube channel?

For many parents, this isn’t a hypothetical question. Like my son, their kids have asked to start their own channel. And while it’s not always an easy question for parents to answer, I supported the idea of my son starting a channel. I looked at it through the lens of the “Four 4Cs” — the 21st-century skills considered essential for today’s kids to embody.

  • Creativity

This is the big one for me. It’s easy for kids to be consumers of media. But what’s really special is when media consumption sparks kids’ desire to become media creators. Sometimes that spark comes from watching others engaged in an interest kids already have. Sometimes the spark comes from YouTubers themselves. Wherever it comes from, that excitement to innovate and create has the potential to become a longterm approach to life.

Galileo aims to make this a reality. “Our ultimate goal is not just to teach subject matter or build campers’ technical skills,” Murphy said, “but also to develop innovators who can envision and create a better world. As a platform, YouTube has exemplified this same spirit of innovation by giving people the ability to share their ideas and passions with the world. Our hope is that the YouTube Producers major will inspire that same spirit in campers.”

  • Communication

The first time I watched my son record a Let’s Play video for Minecraft, I was struck by how much thought he’d put into how to communicate a complex subject (in this case, it was a fifth-grade genetics project) to his audience. This method of presenting information is just a regular form of communication today. People young and old on YouTube learn to communicate information in a way that can be deeply informative but remain accessible. DIY videos, for example, just don’t work without excellent communication skills.

  • Collaboration

In creating YouTube content, collaboration can happen with family members, friends, classmates, other YouTubers and more. In Galileo’s YouTube Producers major, “campers will see firsthand how collaboration boosts the quality of their videos,” Murphy said.

Collaboration is especially important for younger creators. “Managing a YouTube channel can and probably should be a family operation, particularly for younger kids,” Kulman said. “This is a great opportunity for parents to get involved in their kid’s digital life.”

  • Critical Thinking

Both the creation of YouTube content and the management of a YouTube channel require critical thinking skills. Watch any kid (or anybody) take a video concept from ideation to uploading a finished product (and beyond), and you will see a range of situations analyzed, decisions made and problems solved. I appreciate that some of the teachers my son has had over the years believed that the process of creating, for example, a Let’s Play video with Minecraft, can boosts kids’ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. What better way to increase a gamer kid’s engagement in learning than through an assignment that lets him approach the subject through one of his favorite things: gaming videos.

Building a supportive community

In addition to the Four Cs, another C is large part of what YouTube is about: community. Building an online community isn’t unique to YouTube. This can be done on any number of online platforms — I’ve been amazed to watch my daughter build an online community that appreciates her art and shares her love for her favorite bands.

“This is sort of like joining a club at school,” Knorr from Common Sense Media told me. “It’s being a part of this unique tribe, where you pursue your interests, learn new things, get ideas, and contribute something valuable. Being a part of a group of people all sharing a specific interest gives kids an amazing sense of belonging — one that they may not be able to get in the ‘real world,’” she said.

She’s speaking not just as an expert on kids and media, but also from personal experience. “My kid is into LEGO free-building, where you use LEGOs to create anything you want. So, he started investigating it on the internet and found this whole community of people who share this hobby. This made my son feel like his interest wasn’t so weird and offbeat since other people did it. He has learned so much from the LEGO YouTube community. He himself doesn’t necessarily want to make his own videos, but a kid who does feel inspired to take the hobby to the next level is truly a part of something and an important contributor to the community.”

Being a part of a group of people all sharing a specific interest gives kids an amazing sense of belonging.

Supporting kids while being smart and safe

Even for those of us who believe that being a YouTube creator can be a source of empowerment for kids (we’re not talking about the sometimes icky, clearly parent-directed channels), there’s still room for many reservations. Is it safe? What about the trolls? Will it take up all my kid’s (and my) time? I asked Kulman about some of the concerns.

“As with many other aspects of children’s digital life, I strongly encourage parents of younger children to be involved with their child’s YouTube experience and engaged on a daily basis,” he said. “There are safety issues and concerns regarding exposure to inappropriate content. In order to be an active parent, you want to know what you kids doing.”

Like most parents, I try to support my kids’ passions, and now that YouTube is one of them, I’m looking for ways to be both supportive and smart. For advice on that, check out our tips from Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, Caroline Knorr.

Welcome to Toca Life: Hospital

Toca Life: Hospital has arrived! Kids can experience the excitement of a busy medical center, from welcoming newborn babies, to operating on patients and more.

Explore five floors: basement, main entrance, lab and treatment, family care and general care.

  • In the basement, sound the siren on the ambulance in the garage or crack the code on a mysterious machine to open the doors to a secret lab!
  • On the entrance floor, check in at the reception desk and have a seat in the waiting area, or grab a snack from the cafe.
  • The treatment floor has tools to diagnose patients, a lab to check specimens and an operating room.
  • The family care floor has a unit just for kids and a maternity unit with an ultrasound machine, nursery cribs and newborn babies!
  • Patients on the general care floor can visit a peaceful garden to reflect on life. And when a loved one dies, say your final goodbyes in the farewell room.

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Watch the trailer to see Toca Life: Hospital in action!

Get Toca Life: Hospital on the App Store, Google Play or Amazon Appstore.