Hickory Dickory Dock Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on October 21st, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Hickory Dickory Dock is a creative and fun app that teaches number recognition for 1-12 and introduces the concept of how to tell time, specifically the different hours and their positions on the clock, as well as expanding on the classic nursery rhyme, Hickory Dickory Dock.

I really enjoy the look of the app, as its focus here is on an ornate father clock, complete with a curious mouse who goes on many adventures within this app.

In the recent past, many apps have included 3-D images as part of their applications. Although this app does not specifically offer a 3-D experience, I think the beginning moment as one opens the frosted glass face of the grandfather clock is quite remarkable. The first time I started this app I actually ducked, thinking this glass door, surely with sharp edges and corners, was swinging in my direction. This effect is heightened as there is a subtle but very effective reflection to be seen in this glass as the door is swung, and the detailing of this glass is impressive as well. This is only the first second of the app, however, but what is found inside has am equally great look as well.

Once inside, the surface surrounding of the face of this clock is reminiscent of Victorian flocked velvet wallpaper - here with a soft gold hue and subtle gleam, along with an extensive set of gears that are seen working as the hours change in this clock, and mildly distressed wood grain can be seen on this clock's perimeter, all of which gives this period grandfather clock a nice texture that adds character to this app that I greatly appreciate and that will make steam punk fans smile.

As this app opens and the player taps “go,” one can either choose a number on his own by moving the smaller, hour hand, styled here as a hand itself, to the number of one’s choosing, or allow the app to start understandably with the number “1.” This is where it gets interesting, as each number chosen starts a chain of events that leads to a new and different interactive experience. First, the gears start to move, made all the more realistic by the creaking and cranking of these gears doing their thing and the hands spinning around until they stop at the correct number in question.

The splendid theme of this app is also played - an expanded version of Hickory Dickory Dock, different for each separate number and action that this mouse explores. I find this song delightfully catchy, encouraging me to sing along, with a thick British Accent even, something I usually do not do. Luckily the words are offered at the top of the page, making this easier for those who like to follow along. Although not related, I can only think of the “oompa-loompas” theme song from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as another tune that is as witty, catchy, begging to be sung, and which can be listened to multiple times within one activity, thus maintaining the quirkiness from start to finish.

The screen is now complete with an interaction that will engage any child, especially those who are fascinated with mechanical objects as this app incorporates levers and springs, a scale, and other elements that mesh low tech elements with a sophisticated physics engine. Players can see the set-up here, but to fully engage the interaction offered, one must move the hour hand to the flashing number in question, encouraging kids to work with the hand of this clock, setting the time in hours and beginning to learn about the concept of telling time as an adult encourages the child to rotate the hand in a clockwise motion. Other skills are learned here as well, as one must use weights to lower and raise the arm of a scale in order to feed the mouse who lives in this clock. Help the mouse clean up after a dust explosion with this clock, assist in the mouse dancing, bounce into objects such as bells, and bathe him or feed him fruit. Twelve different interactions are offered here, each interesting and unique and oftentimes with a good use of gravity and physics.

My son does love this classic nursery rhyme of Hickory Dickory Dock. He enjoys singing this song as we wait on line to pay while out and about. Embarrassing yes, but it beats the alternative of a meltdown. I knew my son would have a lot of fun with this app based on the music, and I was right. My boy also likes to look at and explore all the interactions offered here, as the inner workings of the clock and the mechanical nature of these interactions are quite intriguing, but my son does enjoy the numbers that are goal-oriented more, as he once asked me when one of these mini-activities would end, expecting some sort of grand conclusion that never came. Having said this, my son does enjoy this app, and I really love its look and included rhymes.

I would like parents to understand that this app is designed to welcome children to the preliminary world of learning about telling time. As with apps focused on number recognition and sequencing without an intent of teaching true mathematics, this app teaches the basics of number recognition and the correct sequence of numbers found on a clock as well as how to move the hour hand to the correct number in relation to the time referred to in the rhyme, not the more advanced concept of truly learning how to read analogue time.

I appreciate this app for what it is, and I know from being exposed to other clock apps that, with noted exceptions, these apps can be rather dry and seem like work, although I am sure more effective that the method of learning to tell time adults endured as children. Even if one is not focused on telling time just yet, the mechanical nature of this app, the situations this mouse gets himself into, and the fun, memorable music used here will delight children as well as adults.

I do feel that it is a missed opportunity, however, for the included minute-hand to serve no real function, as it spins around the clock multiple times as one moves the hour hand to the correct place on the clock face. I would have rather seen the minute-hand move slowly and in sync with the hour-hand for parents to be able to point out the half hour, quarter past, and so forth and the minute-hand slowly move in time to the movement of the hour-hand. Although not the focus of this app, parents should at least be able to use this application as a tool for more complicated time-telling if they so choose.

Even though my son has no trouble moving the hour-hand to the correct number in question, I do feel that this may be tricky to some as it seems skippy when moving. I would also like to see instructions included as it took me a few minutes to understand how to play this app because it seems like when a number is selected, the clock goes ahead and displays a time not directly chosen, and it may not be clear to some that the activity offered here involves the player moving the hand to the time one has selected. There is also an interaction where this clock breaks, allowing one to see inside to its mechanisms, a very nice moment, but it would be wonderful if these gears found inside were interactive and movable as well, a detail that would be great to include in a future update.

All in all, the wonderful look and details of this app, along with the creative interactions and most memorable rhymes make this app worth looking into, and it is a nice, beginner time-telling app as well.

iPhone Screenshots

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iPad Screenshots

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Hickory Dickory Dock screenshot 5 Hickory Dickory Dock screenshot 6 Hickory Dickory Dock screenshot 7 Hickory Dickory Dock screenshot 8
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