Parents will know him from his TV programme Something Special, while little ones will affectionately know him only as Mr Tumble, but children's entertainer Justin Fletcher is set to bring his on-screen energy and fun to a new range of interactive apps for preschool children.
We chatted to Britain's best-loved children's entertainer about what parents can expect, the joys of storytelling and educational benefits...
Who are the Justin’s World apps suitable for?
The apps are aimed at a pre-school audience, but they can be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys watching any of my shows on TV. We hope that parents will sit down with their children and play with the apps together.
What are some of your favourite features of the three apps?
One of my favourite things about all three apps is the fact that we’ve been able to mix live action video with graphics and animation. You don’t see it very often in children’s apps and I think that it works very well.
Another highlight has been the chance to work again with Allan Johnston, the creator of Something Special. Prior to Something Special, Allan made education programmes for the BBC and this has proved invaluable, especially for Lettersounds which has been developed in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Primary National Curriculum.
Were there any parts that you particularly enjoyed making?
I’ve always enjoyed inventing and playing characters, so playing all the characters in the Goldilocks interactive story book was great fun!
How closely linked is Something Special, Mr Tumble and the Justin’s World app?
None of the apps feature any of my characters that are seen on CBeebies, but I think children will enjoy watching me play other well known characters from traditional stories and songs. In the Jigsongs app children have to complete a jigsaw puzzle featuring a scene from a popular nursery rhyme, so I’ve had the chance to play The Grand Old Duke of York and Old MacDonald as well as the entire cast of Goldilocks and the Three Bears!
Mr Tumble and the Something Special TV series were created for kids with special needs. Is this the same case for the Justin’s World app?
No, the Justin’s World apps are for children of all learning abilities. All three apps are structured so that the child can progress at their own pace. In the case of Jigsongs we’ve created three different versions of each jigsaw so that children can choose the level of difficulty to suit them.
Why will the apps appeal to parents?
We’ve been carrying out extensive user testing and parents seem to like the balance of entertainment and education and the fact that there is a definite process and format to each app.
Which features of the apps do you think will appeal most to children?
I think each app will have a different appeal. Goldilocks is a very engaging mix of storytelling, live action video and games; in Jigsongs there is the challenge of solving the jigsaw and the reward of a song. Lettersounds brings a great sense of achievement as the child takes their first steps in learning to read.
Tell us about some of the educational benefits of the apps...
Lettersounds has the most obvious educational benefit as it is a phonic based game that cleverly mirrors concepts within the Primary National Curriculum. It introduces initial letter sounds to children in a fun and simple yet imaginative way. Goldilocks is also packed with educational content. As it's a story there are obviously age appropriate language and literacy elements, but there are also interactive moments that challenge and support counting, matching and sorting activities. What makes these apps really stand out and why I'm so proud of them is that they get children laughing, thinking and learning.
Justin’s World Goldilocks is released on 17th May, £2.99, Justin’s World Letter Sounds is released on 21st June,£1.49 and Justin’s World Jigsongs is released on 19th July, 69p, all available from Apple App Store.
For more information visit Justin's World.