My son is nearly three and tells anyone that will listen that he is a doctor. So, when I saw that Seedling (a favorite toy brand of ours) unveiled Parker, I was intrigued and excited to give it a try and write this review!
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Parker in a Nutshell
Parker is a classic old school plush teddy bear that comes with an interactive toy thermometer, toy stethoscope, wooden medicine spoon and bottle, and felt x-ray bib, and Parker's little backpack to carry the tools.
When paired with a free iOS app, Parker comes to life on your iPhone or iPad with games and activities designed to boost your child's problem solving skills, inspire empathy, and increase digital literacy.
Parker is recommended for ages 3-6.
I'm always on the hunt for toys that allow my child to evolve in how he uses them so that he can enjoy them for a long time. Parker definitely fits the bill. He can be played with as a classic teddy bear or your iPhone or iPad can unlock an interactive experience using Augmented Reality (AR). And within the app, the more you play, the more magical the in-app world becomes, ensuring that Parker keeps your child's interest for years!
Parker as a classic teddy bear
My son is turning three this month and was elated to receive Parker.
He loves to hug him and "read" books to him and carry him all over town. As I'm writing this, he has had him for almost a week and the novelty has not worn off at all!
He cares for him by taking his temperature, giving him "medicine," and covering him in band-aids. He even set him up with a cozy nap station because he knows that extra sleep helps you recover faster when sick.
I'm 20 weeks pregnant. During my first trimester my son saw me having morning sickness and was not very empathetic. Instead, before I could even catch my breath, he was telling me enthusiastically about every experience that he had ever had with vomit. I talked to him about empathy, and it didn't seem to make an impression. I think the concept was just starting to click for him last week because he overheard me tell my husband that I didn't feel well and came over to hug me and say in the sweetest voice "I'm sorry Mommy, I hope you feel better." So Parker arrived at the perfect time, as my son is primed to explore empathy, nurturing and caring for others through play.
Parker does not have a camera, batteries, wifi, or any buttons on him at all. He looks and feels like your classic teddy bear, but read on to learn how to unlock Parker's world of imaginative play on your iPhone or iPad.
Augmented Reality with the Parker app
The free Parker app transforms your child's care giving and play into an interactive experience using AR technology that already exists on your phone. The bear has patterns and touch points that the app recognizes through your camera, and that allow for incredible AR experiences on your phone.
I didn't get a chance to play around with the app before introducing it to my son, and I found it really quick and easy to set up (even with him eagerly hovering over me).
Kids always amaze me -- he had no trouble navigating the app and finding games.
So far, my son has played a few of the games within the app that work without the bear -- including popping balloons, and feeding fruit to Parker. He also designed a digital bandage for Parker. And finally, we played doctor and gave Parker a check-up by taking his temperature and playing around with the x-ray bib to see Parker's insides on the phone.
I was selective in which features I showed to my son first, because I wasn't sure how he would react to the AR technology. His expressions alternated between awe and pure joy and he kept asking to try more things, so clearly I had no reason to be concerned!
There are a bunch more activities that we didn't try yet, but I wanted to take it slow introducing them to keep the toy exciting. Other features that I'm looking forward to trying with my son include using 3D touch to help Parker take deeper breaths and test lung capacity, helping Parker fight a stomach bug by squashing stomach germs, building an under sea garden or magical mushroom forest using the magic camera feature, and watching how Parker's Happiness Factor grows and his world gets brighter the more you play with him!
Parker the Bear is a STEAM toy. It teaches:
- Science: Teaches basic biology through in-app doctor play.
- Technology: Develops Digital Literacy and explores the magic of Augmented Reality
- Engineering: Promotes critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Encourages empathy
- Arts: Create drawings, connect the dots and even design your own bandage
- Math: Solve puzzles, play games.
I really appreciate that the more you play, the more games and activities are unlocked -- this naturally paces your child and keeps them within the right skill level.
I'd recommend Parker for play for any occasion, but it seems like an especially great toy to keep your child entertained when you travel! I could see my son happily playing with Parker for hours on a plane.
As a side note, we took some of these photos in the Apple store and employees kept commenting that Parker is the toy of the year!
Where to buy Parker
For a limited time only, you can take advantage of this buy more, save more event at Seedling.com:
- Save $20 off $100 or more
- Save $50 off 200 or more
- Save $75 off $250 or more