Bring the cartoon zoo to you with this interactive learning app! Designed for children ages 2 to 5, this simple app teaches little ones about animals, emotions, actions, and sounds through an endless “Who is (blank)?” question game. This free app was developed by Duck Duck Moose, a subsidiary of the popular Khan Academy Learning Network.
Peek-a-Zoo by Duck Duck Moose
Ages: 4+ (made for ages 5 and under)
Requires: iOS 6.0 or later
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
Peek-a-Zoo is a fun exploration of simple concepts like animal names, emotions, simple actions, positions, and sounds. The app opens with a simple, looped video with the different cartoon animals featured in the game. Each animal shares its name when you tap on it (the first letter of the name matches the first letter of the animal to promote awareness of letter sounds), while the other animals continue to scroll across the bottom. The names also display as speech bubbles, helping build print awareness. From this main screen, you can either see apps by the same developer (linked in the top left), or simply tap the arrow in the upper right corner to begin playing.
The concept is simple – your child taps on the animal that correctly answers the question “Who is (blank)?” Each question features eight different animal choices. Questions might focus on simple actions (Who is sticking out their tongue?) or character names (Who is Milo the Monkey?). More challenging questions tackle characteristics (Who is cross-eyed?) or even emotions (Who is angry?). The questions loop through variations for as long as your child wants to play. Incorrect answers generate different comments and animal sounds, while the correct answer enlarges the character to the center of the screen before moving on to the next question.
Peek-a-Zoo has tons of visual appeal – the animals are bright, cute, and cartoons, but still easily identified. Since the app is navigated by touching the correct answer, even the littlest users can quickly pick up on its navigation. Younger children may start out by just tapping away, without trying to pick the right answer, but you can use practice and discussion to play together and develop the concepts behind the questions. In addition to the spoken questions, the text is also shown on the screen, encouraging pre-reading skills.
This app has a good balance between simple and complicated questions, practicing both identification and critical thinking. It is great practice for identifying emotions and social cues, as your child must study the expressions and behaviors of each animal to find the right answer. Talking about the answers also helps build your child’s understanding of the concepts and expands vocabulary, too. You might ask, “How did you know which animal was tired?” If your child is stumped, provide context for your answer. For example, you might say, “We know that the monkey is tired because he is yawning.” It’s also a great way to talk about your child’s own emotions: What does it look like when you are tired? How can you tell if someone in your family is tired?
Ready to take the fun off your screen? Continue exploring your child’s emotions through books and games. For a fun activity, check out our Library Make video for Grumpy Bird Feelings Puppets, which you can use to practice your emotions while reading the book by Jeremy Tankard. Or, sing a few verses of “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” adding other emotions like angry or sad with actions that represent them. Talking and singing with your child reinforces concepts and makes learning fun. Plus, being able to identify those emotions will help your little one develop self-control, too!
It’s not too late to sign up for Summer Reading with the Plano Public Library. You have until August 31 to complete your reading goal and claim your summer prize. The Explore Plano challenges go through the end of the month, too. For more app recommendations and examples, be sure to join us for App Time this fall. While we’re on our story time break, catch up on some of our App Talk videos for more great apps! For more upcoming programs, check out our Engage brochure for the complete program lineup, and look for the fall brochure coming later this month. Happy playing!