Mister Man is on the autism spectrum. One of my greatest fears for him in school has long been bullying. He quite simply has a target on his back, and the way he overreacts to many situations can make it “fun” for certain children to pick on him because it becomes a game. I’ve done my utmost to help him reduce that target, but a big piece of keeping him – and others – from being bullied is to keep presenting the message that everyone is different and has his own strengths and weaknesses. Without those differences, the world would be a boring place, and we need people to be good at different things so that all the jobs in the world can be done.
RINDIN is an app for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone that reinforces this concept. RINDIN is a puffer fish who is not accepted by the other fish in the ocean because of his googly eyes and his tendency to puff up whenever he’s frightened. While the other fish have friends even though they’re different, RINDIN is scorned. When the other fish go play – without RINDIN – they get into trouble with a barracuda chasing them. It’s only RINDIN’s special gift of puffing up that saves them in the end. That’s when the other fish realize that RINDIN has a special talent that benefits them, and they accept him and his differences.
The RINDIN app includes three different formats for only $0.99. It has a book, an 8 minute movie of the story, and a game. I like the fact that the story book and the movie are the same general story but emphasize different points. The movie shows many more differences of fish, while the books explores more of what the characters think and are saying. Having the two slightly different ways of telling the stories I think helps to reinforce the message and keep both the book and the movie interesting for children. I know the wee ones enjoyed both!
The movie has very cute animation, as one might expect, but surprisingly, the book also includes some cute animation, as the fish bob in the water as though they are floating on most pages. The book also offers three ways to read it. You can read it yourself, you can be read to (by a different narrator from the movie), or you can record your own voice reading the book and then play it back. It is easy to record, and I love this idea for when parents may not be home for bedtime or another routine where a child might want or need to hear a familiar voice. When listening to recordings of the book, the app doesn’t force the device to stay awake (the movie does), so my screen went dark several times, which I can see being frustrating to children. That is an easy fix in the app, however.
The RINDIN app also includes a game that goes along with the story. You use your fingers to slide wider or smaller, which makes RINDIN puff up or unpuff. When he’s puffy, he swims closer to the surface, and when he’s unpuffed, he floats down. You use this ability to move higher and lower in the ocean to avoid octopi and barracuda swimming in the ocean while scooping up food, shields, and extra lives. The wee ones enjoyed this game at first, although they quickly found they didn’t have the dexterity to stay alive long. Then it became them watching me play, which greatly entertained them. Although you move up levels, the game to me didn’t seem to change at all or become more difficult. It’s a nice add-on to the app, but it definitely isn’t the main draw – which I’m fine with, as I’d like to focus more on the message in the movie and book that everyone’s differences have a place and value, and we need to accept and celebrate them.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a free download of the app for review purposes. All opinions remain my own.
Written by 5 Minutes for Mom contributor Michelle who always awaits the playground stories with bated breath hoping there are no whispers of bulling. Read more about her family and efforts to keep her wee ones safe and happy on her blog Honest & Truly! or follow her on Twitter where she is @HonestAndTruly.