Product Review of Mindful Powers
Mindful Powers is an iOS app for kids to learn and practice mindfulness. A youthful narrator explains that a Flibbertigibbet, a sea creature who is shy but curious by nature, has a hard time focusing. The creature gets frustrated easily and turns into a spiky ball, so kids need to train the Flibbertigibbet to self-calm and relax. Kids help calm their Flibbertigibbet down by “petting” it, which causes it to purr and the device to vibrate. Once kids calm their Flibbertigibbet, they win its trust and they can choose two options to engage with the app: Mindful Play or Focus Time.
Mindful Play is the bulk of the app and incorporates audio meditation lessons with a visual timer. This section teaches kids what mindfulness is and how to breathe deeply, do a brief body scan, and notice things in the environment. Once a story is completed, a tracker unlocks other stories sequentially. Each story is a stand-alone lesson. The later lesson topics include staying focused on the present, being kind to friends and family, and identifying feelings. Focus Time is a section meant to teach kids perseverance and patience. Students can set a visual timer for a custom amount of time, and the Flibbertigibbet patiently waits for the student to complete a task while the timer counts down. If learners touch the app, the Flibbertigibbet gets frustrated and responds with a vibration and prompt to keep focusing.
Teachers can use Mindful Powers as a supplemental activity in their classroom. You can also use it in a small-group station and set the Focus Timer to give learners a visual aid while they work. The overall feeling of having a creature to care for may draw in your more nurturing learners, so consider having it be part of a rotating daily classroom “job” to care for the Flibbertigibbet. Meet with learners one-on-one to build a relationship as they talk to you about their experiences. Teach a lesson on mindfulness and then use the Mindful Play section as an extension of whole-group learning. Use it as an incentive tool as all your learners listen to the stories together, or as a transition activity after learners return from recess. Finally, consider suggesting this as an app for parents to use at home.
Mindful Powers is a useful tool to supplement instruction about self-regulation. The youthful voice of the narrator makes it easy to relate to, and kids will be drawn to caring for a creature and helping it grow and learn. The app does a good job of building in calming activities since the practice of smoothing out the Flibbertigibbet when it’s frustrated requires a slow and steady movement — or it will vibrate back at the user. The focus timer will help kids build perseverance, and the idea of their Flibbertigibbet keeping them company while they wait is cute and encouraging.
Since the stories can only be unlocked sequentially, the app does a good job of building on previously learned skills. The stories are developmentally appropriate but they get a bit long, especially for younger kids. It would be nice to have shorter stories around 20 to 30 seconds that appear more frequently in the beginning so kids can get used to the practice of listening for extended amounts of time. There also isn’t a lot of additional support or accessibility for those with hearing impairments; closed captioning would be nice.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Students will enjoy caring for a creature and helping their Flibbertigibbet grow and gain powers. They’ll like the responsive visual timer and be able to relate to the storytelling narrator.
Curriculum and Instruction
The app teaches mindfulness skills in a sequential progression and adds in a visual timer for practice. Some stories get long, but with adult help, kids could learn to transfer the techniques to daily life.
There’s not a lot of accessibility (e.g., closed captioning) during the stories, and the app needs audio to get the best bang for your buck, especially if you purchase the expansion pack.