Oh, how quickly our daily lives have adopted a new normal! If all this at-home time has morphed into more screen time for your kids, finding online platforms suitable for our little ones is probably on your list. Enter local artist, Catherine Mayer, who just released a free version of her art-based mindfulness app, The L.A.U.G.H® App. It’s built to reduce anxiety and stress, provide an outlet for creativity and increase learning, belonging and confidence in our tiny students. Read on for the 411 on this new drawing app!

photo: Michael Graubard, WHY FOR GOOD

UnwrAPPing the Details

The L.A.U.G.H® App, which encourages users to ‘Let Art Unleash Great Happiness’, is a novel way to deliver mental and emotional relief to our kids. After years of doing her research, and working in conjunction with sociologists, psychologists, behavioral specialists and physicians, Catherine Mayer has gifted us with this drawing tool that is designed to engage several senses simultaneously, such as vision, tactile, listening and focused breathing. Our kid testers dove into The L.A.U.G.H® App’s features to find out what it’s all about, what features they liked best and what parents will be excited to hear about!

photo: Michael Graubard, WHY FOR GOOD

The Initial APProach

When you first open the app, your kiddos will be able to choose the emoji that corresponds with how they are currently coping emotionally (which also gives parents that sneak peek into our kids’ mental well-being). Then, it's on to an uber-encouraging tutorial where kids are introduced to an initial breathing exercise to relax and prepare their minds for the upcoming activities. Ahhhh! After finding their zen, kids are ushered to the art exercise, where they're taught to draw pictures by focusing on each individual shape, contour, shadow and texture. After a few follow-alongs, it's on to selecting a photo from the gallery (about 30 options in all) to complete your own drawing/tracing exercises, while listening to relaxing music that you can change to fit your mood. There are three cool options!

The app's toolkit, with various digital pens, paintbrushes, erasers, chalk and more, ensures each picture can be completely customized. The app also inspires its users to work at their own pace, relax and recognize that there is never a wrong way to draw or trace a picture. Parents will love how it encourages personal expression! After your kiddos create their masterpieces, they can then save their artwork in their own gallery or they can produce a slideshow to show off their work to you. Very user-friendly!

photo: Michael Graubard, WHY FOR GOOD

For some kids the hardest part of the exercise may be going slow. But The L.A.U.G.H® App reminds kids to relax, breath and allow themselves the time to be completely absorbed in a creative and calming activity. It's easy to see how this app provides an outlet for creativity and can also help reduce anxieties and stressors our kids face everyday!

photo: Michael Graubard, WHY FOR GOOD

If You APPreciate Proof

While there's no doubt our family testers enjoyed the app and what it offers, it’s important to point out that The L.A.U.G.H® App has gone through its own testing and trials (including research with University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute) to make it just right. In school trials, researchers found that the app had significant influence on students’ moods over time. In fact, after around seven sessions of L.A.U.G.H® Time, students showed a 4.7% improvement in their moods, and measurable increases in the kiddos’ joy of learning and school connectedness. As they studied this phenomenon, they found that the joy of learning score was 18.7% higher, and school connectedness was 19.2% higher at the end of L.A.U.G.H® Time. That means that belonging directly affects joy of learning and together they have a positive influence on a student’s mood. Hence the importance of launching this app at a time like this.

photo: SchoolPRPro via Pixabay

How They APProach the Future

So what will The L.A.U.G.H.® App look like in the future? “We know there is a considerable appetite in our world for calm, less anxiety and a creative outlet for kids, families – and really everyone,” said Mayer. “In future versions of the app we will be adding features appropriate for the classroom–including the ability to share to multiple screens (Ambient Art®), as well as new adventures focused on music, movement, breathing and other elements that reinforce mindfulness, focus and social emotional learning and behavior.”

If we’ve whet your APPetite, you can download The L.A.U.G.H. ® App for free in the Apple App Store for iPad only and in the Google Play Store for tablet or phone.

—Alaina Weimer