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Over the past few years, Crayola has been pairing traditional creative experiences with digital apps.
Now, the handicraft company is launching a new initiative that brings a bit of the real creative world into the digital one, melding the look and feel of traditional crayons with modern applications.
Create and Play is a subscription app for iOS and Android that provides five distinct experiences. Art Station, Pet Park, Color Lab, Colorful Classroom, and Arcade pull from Crayola’s 133-year history.
The price seems right, for use at $5.99 a month or $39.99 annually. Plus, through Dec. 15, you can get it for just $3.99 a month.
I’ve been testing Create and Play for about a week, and it’s both creative and entertaining. Bits of a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) curriculum are sprinkled throughout the app’s colorful playground. The Art Station experience gives you access to a blank canvas or several coloring pages. You can also snap a photo to make a custom template.
Even better, Crayola has a digital version of the 120-count crayon box. It includes every possible crayon color you could want or need in addition to colored pencils, markers, watercolors, and special tools. There’s even one that can drop sparkling glitter or a graphical pattern — you can spread animated fire, if you’d like. There are plenty of opportunities for creativity here.
On coloring pages, you can’t color outside of the lines, which is an odd design decision. This feature is meant to make it easier to color more precisely on differently-sized devices, but it can be a bit fiddly. Hopefully, this can be customized in future updates.
When it comes to your finished colored pages, the app will autosave all drawings, adhering to the mantra that all creations are worth valuing as they are. The files live in the gallery and can be exported to post or save elsewhere.
Like many other kid-focused apps, the experience is somewhat gamified. You’ll collect XP toward unlocking chests by using the different modes. You’ll find coloring pages, accessories for in-game figures, and eggs hidden inside, which allow you to hatch an animal in an area known as Pet Park.
The egg hatching process begins when you start coloring the shell. When it hatches, surprise! Any decorations you’ve drawn will then appear on your hatched animal — a nice payoff once the hatching process is complete. You can then pick a habitat for your newly hatched creature, like a pirate ship or a jungle. Younger users may enjoy the ability to dress the pet, as well as its accompanying mini games.
Color Lab, Colorful Classroom, and Arcade all deliver expected kids’ app experiences with a Crayola twist. In the lab, you’ll get to see a cartoon version of the Crayola factory where you can make a crayon from scratch. Colorful Classroom and Arcade modes feature lighter experiences based around matching colors and using stencils.
I’ve enjoyed the Create and Play experience, and it’s a seamless one that runs well on iOS and Android alike. The child in me really likes the art station and having a digital box of Crayola crayons. Bundling all these modes into one app should guarantee one thing at least: kids are unlikely to get bored.