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Skittering crabs, twirling palm trees and native birdsongs are some of the surprises awaiting young users of “Malama Honua: My Voyage,” a new Hawaiian-themed iPad app.
Geared toward children ages 5 to 8, the 35-minute “appisode” presents video storytelling and hands-on activities centered around the ancient Polynesian tradition of voyaging. Today, that tradition is alive and well on the Hawaiian double-hulled canoe Hokulea, which is currently sailing around the world using age-old navigational techniques.
With the interactive app, kids can learn how to make their own canoe while exploring Hawaii from the mountains to the sea. Taking part in various activities, young players gather and prepare materials such as island wood for the masts and local plants for the rope. Their guide, an animated white tern, leads children through the steps for becoming a junior navigator.
“‘Malama Honua: My Voyage’ is loaded with fun facts about Hawaiian culture, history and geography,” said Ann Botticelli, whose Hoomalamalama Foundation created the app. “It follows cultural experts who explain the ancient Hawaiian values and customs that are still in place today.”
The app is ideal for travelers who are heading to Hawaii with their young children.
“The app gives incoming visitors a primer on the culture that informs how we still interact with each other,” Botticelli said. “The rotation of its activities keeps children coming back again and again.”
As travel agents recommend “Malama Honua: My Voyage” to their clients, they also can suggest Hawaii-based family activities that complement its message.
“On Hawaii Island, for instance, Imiloa Astronomy Center has exhibits on celestial navigation, native forests, Hawaiian language and much more,” Botticelli said. “On Oahu, Lyon Arboretum is a great place to check out native plants. And there are many Hawaii hikes that families can enjoy together that allow them to listen to some of the native birds they’ve heard on the appisode.”
By the time they arrive in Hawaii, kids who have spent time with the app will be able to teach their parents about the destination, from commonly-used Hawaiian words to the importance of the kukui nut.
“In short, ‘Malama Honua: My Voyage’ helps connect our visitors with Hawaii the same way that locals experience it,” Botticelli said.