Homes is a new iOS smartphone app for kids that lets children wander around typical living spaces in 4 disparate places: Guatemala, Yemen, Mongolia and Brooklyn (which is apparently a country now). Somewhere between a game and an anthropology lesson, the app encourages them to poke through the cabinets, use the bathroom, cook food and listen to music in each dwelling. There’s even a setting that identifies everything on a given screen in multiple languages, so they can learn to say “stove” in Spanish, French, German or simple Chinese. The one thing there isn’t? Rules – with Home, kids are free to wing dishes against the wall, release the livestock or bang away on the instruments and generally behave the way you hope they only do in your own home.
The coolest element, though, is the accompanying guide. It’s full of clever prompts you can use to get your kids thinking critically about how and why things like construction, layout and furnishings differ from culture to culture. That makes this the rare app that’s less a tool to distract them and more a chance to engage with them.