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Moose Math - by Duck Duck Moose Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on November 7th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MATH MADE FUN
Moose Math includes interactive math exercises children will love exploring.
Read The Full Review »

This Week at 148Apps: September 17-21

Posted by Chris Kirby on September 24th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

This week at 148Apps.com, iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 were never too far out of our collective consciousness, as evidenced by site founder Jeff Scott's discussion of changes in the iOS App Store: "Take exposing the top paid, free, and grossing apps at the same time on the landing page of the Top Apps list, for instance. It seems like a small change, but it promotes free apps to the front of the page and lowers the exposure of the top paid apps past the first three. Michael Zaletel of i4software notes, 'This gives MUCH MORE prominence to the Top Free Apps and so I predict Free apps and Freemium apps will see a big boost after today.'"

Read more of Jeff's commentary at 148Apps.

Meanwhile, back in the GiggleApps.com cave, reviewer Amy Solomon had this to say about Superhero Comic Book Maker HD: "Comic Maker allows one to choose from 27 backgrounds, a blank page and a chance to access photos from one’s device to work on. I really enjoy these backdrops, each bold and colorful, as there are wonderful choices to stimulate creative thinking and superhero or monster themes, such as the POV from a spaceship, industrial setting with robots and a conveyer belt, as well as other more natural scenes including a farm, saloon, or desert, which allow these characters to visit Earth. It is worth noting that although the theme here includes monsters, every image included within is utterly family-friendly, as is the included classical music based on classic nursery rhymes that Duck Duck Moose is known for."

Intrigued? Read Amy's full review at GiggleApps.

And staying on the 'Super' theme, 148Apps.biz writer Carter Dotson solicited some marketing advice from Supercool Creative: "Social media is often an enigma to developers looking to promote their apps. It’s a tool that can be incredibly powerful for getting more downloads and driving revenue, but just how to succeed with it is a mystery to many. Facebook integration, especially with the App Store, has been anticipated by developers as a way to help their games spread through social media, but these features won’t be doing all the work to make an app gain users through social media usage. However, David Murdico has written an interesting blog post for Supercool Creative entitled “5 Ways to Promote Mobile Apps and Games with Social Media” that covers many ways to best utilize social media to developers’ advantage."

Want to know more? Read the full article at 148Apps.biz.

That's it for this week, but with fall...um...falling, there's sure to be a huge amount of new content about to drop before the holidays. Keep up with the latest by following us on Twitter and Liking us on Facebook. We'll make it worth your while! See you next week!

Princess Fairy Tale Maker - by Duck Duck Moose Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on July 6th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Princess Fairy Tale Maker - by Duck Duck Moose is a universal creative and fun application that will be enjoyed both by children who are fascinated by princesses and consists of two main sections, including a fairytale maker and coloring book pages.

Make a Fairy Tale offers these players the chance to tell simple stories using a selected background of their choice - an abundant section of 32 scenes to choose from - as well as a blank page. A chance to use a personal photo as a backdrop is also a possibility.

I admire the selection of backgrounds used that will lend themselves nicely to work with most of the classic princess stories that I can think of, including both regal as well as more rustic conditions. Interior castle and exterior scenes are included, as are oceanic, snow, swamp and pirate motifs, plus other choices - each fun and colorful, often with a simple moving element such as clouds or birds floating by which adds to the visual interest. It is good to know that the same high quality of music that Duck Duck Moose is known for is also included within.

Users are able to add a seemingly endless selection of sticker choices to their scenes that will suit the needs of any princess storyline one can think of, including not just maidens in fancy dress, but pixie-inspired creatures as well as a ballerina choice, astronaut, Native American, pirate and Asian princess wearing a kimono.

Players will find an abundance of animal characters to support their stories as well, such as a frog, winged unicorns, dragon, snake or lovely elephant as well as any and all other effects they could want or need in terms of decorating their scenes from floral decorations to fashion details, food choices, text bubbles, letters and numbers. The choices are impressive, and my list could go on. It is also nice to see different races and ethnicities included among these princesses.

This app also includes the ability to size these elements with ease, creating a nice chance to scale back a princess to create a size appropriate for Thumbelina or Tinker Bell as well as a giant character if one so chooses, but would also like to be able to rotate these selections as well in order to help pour tea from a kettle, for example.

Recording a scene is intuitive enough, and it is nice that one can interact with the characters or other objects, dragging them around the page as these movements are recorded along with any included voiceovers. Do tap the characters to make their lips move, and it is also nice that a slight drag in a right or left direction will turn the characters in that direction, allowing them to look at each other or in other chosen directions with ease.

This section has so very much to offer, as one can also draw on the screen as well with brush points, emulating both the fine point of a pencil as well as the softer, larger point of a crayon. I would have enjoyed being able to add more elements to the scene during the recording instead of being limited to the details already added to the page at the start of the recording.

A coloring book is also included with the same vast selection of decorative choices. I must admit that I am not always hugely fond of coloring books as they can have limited options, yet this coloring book is also quite sizable with 32 pages of choices as well as a wondrous number of colors, patterns and textures that one can choose to fill the shapes which make up these pages - paint-bucket style - my personal favorite way of working with coloring books. This includes some unique choices like an interesting rainbow color option with stripes instead of a solid color, a secret shade that changes with each use, twinkly patterns which subtly flicker or flash or other brightly colored patterns, oftentimes reminiscent to me of Mrs. Grossman’s rainbows or heart choices from the 1980’s, which make me smile.

It would be nice, however, to have more of a say in the breaks found in these images, as I would like to be able to color in specific bricks around windows with different colors as well as different sections of a princess dress, that are not always possible.

It is especially nice that a section exists of both saved fairytale scenes and coloring pages that players can go back to and edit, also saving selected pieces to their device's camera roll.

Princess Fairy Tale Maker - by Duck Duck Moose will surely be a hit with creative children drawn to princesses. I believe older children and their parents will enjoy all that this app has to offer as well.

Trucks HD - by Duck Duck Moose Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on May 15th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Trucks HD - by Duck Duck Moose is a charming new app that allows children to explore five truck-related sections. As is the case with other Duck Duck Moose apps, Trucks is bright and colorful, with fun, playful characters hidden throughout that will react with a tap in various cute ways that children will enjoy, as well as including the classical instrumentals of children's rhymes that Duck Duck Moose are well known. An iPhone version of this app is also available.

My son’s personal favorite area of this app is the car wash where he can ride a car back and forth through a mud puddle, then drive the vehicle to the next screen into a car wash and engage the different rollers, sprayers and an air blower as one drags their car through the car wash.

Although I appreciate that like within a real car wash where driving in reverse is not an option, my son would like to have the ability to of drag his car back and forth between these different stations to re-wet his car, allowing him to use the blower over and over again.

Fixing a tire is also focused on here, as one section allows players to choose a sharp object that a car rolls over onto causing a flat that will be fixed in the next scene. I enjoy how the selection of implements are random, changing as one may go back to this section, with fun choices including a fork, open safety pin or a hedgehog.

Currently, only one item can be chosen to flatten one's tires. It would be nice if players could choose any and all sharp items to puncture their tires, just for fun.

After the tires are damaged, a tow truck takes the car to the next page. Nice interactive moments exist here like disconnecting the truck from the car or lifting the car up onto hydraulics with either the drag of a finger or tapping the up and down arrows of a control pad. A tap will bring players to a page of tire selections to chose from. Another tap adds these new tires to one’s car. Although we have heard no complaints from my son, my husband and I would love to change the car’s paint job, basic model and other elements as well, fully realizing all that could be included within a garage-themed scene, even if it is not directly related to fixing a car’s flat tire.

My son has also really enjoys the sorting game of compost recycling and garbage where he cleans the mess off a street, sorting items into the correct containers, such as produce, empty food jars and fun garbage such as underpants, a shoe or a garden hose.

Later, tap on the correlating can of the truck that is here for their pick, and the truck will then back up, allowing the monkey worker to empty the correct bin into their truck and drive off. I enjoy this section as well as this allows children to learn how to sort their waste into the correct bin at home.

A parade is also offered which includes cars, trucks, construction and emergency vehicles. Do notice the stoplight to the right of the screen where children can tap the red, yellow and green lights as doing so will stop, slow down or allow the procession to keep moving. I like how when applicable, the sirens and other sounds these cars and trucks make can be heard as well as seen when tapped, such as is the case for the cement mixer and road sweeper.

Another fun detail here is the ability to stop a car with a finger, causing the vehicle behind to crash into the car - a fun inclusion that I wish were allowed with all the vehicles.

A construction section is also included where players get to interact with a front loader and dump truck, filling and dumping piles of dirt or sand.

At first glance at this lovely and fun app, I assumed that the target audience would be the same as their earlier toddler apps such as Wheels on the Bus or Old MacDonald, yet I must tell readers that my four year old son does enjoy this app a great deal, as we had a hard time retrieving the iPad away from him while exploring this application.

I have been a fan of Duck Duck Moose from their first apps, both toddler and educational. After tackling such subjects as math, reading, puzzles and music, I have wondered what would be next from these prolific developers. I am happy to see their interest in developing open-ended applications as well. I am very interested to see what Duck Duck Moose comes up with next.

This Week at 148Apps: March 19-23

Posted by Chris Kirby on March 26th, 2012

This week at 148Apps.com, writer Jennifer Allen launched her review of Angry Birds Space, saying, "There’s a temptation to declare that Angry Birds Space is more of the same. That wouldn’t be a bad thing by any means. While there’s no doubt that marketing has played a big role in its success, Angry Birds is still one of the best casual gaming experiences out there. It benefits greatly from that “just one more go” mentality and a lot can be achieved in a short amount of time. Angry Birds Space ups the ante in that respect by introducing a sufficient number of new features to ensure that it’s not just more of the same, while still retaining the original game’s charm."

Read the full review at 148Apps.com.

Amy Solomon, at GiggleApps.com, also wrote about birds this week, but these took the form of her review of Draw and Tell HD by Duck Duck Moose. Solomon writes, "Draw and Tell HD – by Duck Duck Moose is a creative and fun art app that allows young artists to record personal narration to their finished pieces, including a multitude of art supplies to work with. Both iPad as well as iPhone versions are available.

Children have a choice of expressing themselves by choosing a blank page to begin their art work or choosing a coloring page to work on. Another wonderful function of this app is the ability to choose a photo from the device’s camera roll to use as a background as well.

Read more from Solomon's review on GiggleApps.

Finally, 148Apps.biz featured a report by Kevin Stout about the astonishing growth of iOS and Android activations in China. Stout writes, "China has recently become the leader in new iOS and Android device adoption (phones and tablets). It’s also finished the year in 2nd for application sessions, only behind the U.S. Specifically, China’s app session growth between last year and this year is 1126%. That’s nearly double the closest country (Argentina)."

Read the full report on 148Apps.biz.

And that's the week that was. Join us next week for a full recap of the activities across the 148apps-verse. Until then, keep track of our latest contests, news items and reviews by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. See ya!

Draw and Tell HD - by Duck Duck Moose Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on March 21st, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Draw and Tell HD - by Duck Duck Moose is a creative and fun art app that allows young artists to record personal narration to their finished pieces, including a multitude of art supplies to work with. Both iPad as well as iPhone versions are available.

Children have a choice of expressing themselves by choosing a blank page to begin their art work or choosing a coloring page to work on. Another wonderful function of this app is the ability to choose a photo from the device’s camera roll to use as a background as well.

I enjoy the various backgrounds offered, including brightly colored pages to work on, as well as some fun pattern choices such as colorful stripes and dots as well as classic standard rule of notebook paper and graph paper. I really appreciate the textures found within the single colored background, reminiscent of hand-made decorative paper as well as backgrounds with a marbled watercolor look that I am drawn to.

A vast selection of tools is included, such as a wonderful assortment of stickers including animals and vehicles, letters, numbers and speech bubbles plus more. Personal favorites include the foods and silverware fit for a tea party as well as the hats, mustaches and other details one can add to style members of personal photos being used. It is terrific how easily one can resize these stickers, but my son would also like to be able to flip these stickers, making it possible for these illustrated characters to face each other while talking or even embracing.

A paint brush, pencil and crayon points are included each with 27 shades to choose from, including a rainbow and an interestingly textured glow-in-the-dark choice. I like the inclusion of both pencil-sized eraser as well as a bigger classic pink eraser to remove parts of one’s artwork, and I also enjoy the fun and bright pattern choices one can choose to paint, draw or crayon with, creating these patterns and colors with the swipe of a finger. It would be nice if a few more paint brush sizes could be added in the future as well.

iPad users will have a series of stencils to choose from that can be moved around the page and re-sized. My son really has a lot of fun painting over these stencils, allowing him to create these shapes without having to rely on his free-hand drawing skills - something he still lacks at the age of four. Being able to re-size these stencils is nice and simple even for little hands, but being able to flip these stencils to work with a mirror image would be nice as well.

The selection of coloring book pages is also very nice, including 18 images to choose from. I appreciate the use of “Paint Bucket” mode, allowing one to fill in the spaces found within these pages with the tap of a finger - my go-to mode for working with coloring books, but the lack of “Paint Brush” mode, using a finger to paint with, may disappoint others.

All the same tools can be used to decorate these coloring pages, making an especially nice use of the pattern tool that can be used to fill in the shapes found within these coloring pages for a very nice effect. I was not a huge fan, however, of certain editorial choices having been made for players in terms of color grouping, as more than one area may be colored in at once, such as both tires on a tractor being filled in with a single tap, making it impossible to create different color wheels as well as minimizing the number of areas one can fill in.

Another issue that I found was that certain details such as the eyes, teeth and other details on the included animals remain white and are unable to take color, as does other areas of other objects included in the scenes.

The choices is made for the player to follow a certain logic and maybe some children may find his helpful, but I would love an option to be able to color in all sections of this app individually, allowing animals to not only have colored eyes, but different colored eyes as well if my son wants to be creative this way.

Even with these minor limitations, I really enjoy all the virtual art supplies offered, especially the stickers and stencils, allowing children to have a lot of fun with this app without having a lot of drawing or painting ability.

My son has really enjoyed decorating photos from our iPad both with animal stickers and stencils, creating scenes reminiscent of Mary Poppins or Snow White, allowing him to create images of him interacting with cartoon characters. It is a treat that characters from other Duck Duck Moose apps are available, as are an abundance of other sticker choices.

Saving one’s work is easy, and it is nice that children can return to their pictures to continue on adding more creative details as well. A go-back button is also included - a nice touch users may find helpful as did I.

A very special component of this app is the ability to record narration to finished art projects, emailing them to loved ones or simply saving to preserve a moment in time of one’s children at a specific age. The ability to create personalized parts or letters for friends and family with the inclusion of personalized voice-over is wonderful for children and their adults alike, and it is super-cute how the stickers can be moved around the page as narration is being recorded, possibly as one is telling a story to a distant loved one.

It is also a nice inclusion that if one drags a finger around the image or photo in use, a blue highlight can be seen during the recording and playback of the narration, allowing one to motion to a specific area of the image while telling a story about the picture in question.

It would also have been great, however, if the process of painting or coloring, stenciling and the like could have been recorded, as seeing details appear on the screen could be quite captivating to look at, making wondrous Harold and the Purple Crayons moments possible, allowing children to watch illustrations appear on the page as a story is told.

This is a lovely application that will be of interest to a wide range of ages through grade school and beyond. The possibilities are endless for the creative and artistic projects one can create with this app. Parents and other adults will surely cherish these pieces of art, especially with included narration of little voices captured as precious keepsakes.

I only wish that the process of these creative activities could be captured, as the process may be more important to children than the finished piece, especially if one could record the banter of a parent and child simply enjoying this app together, recording their give-and-take while experiencing all the artistic elements found within this application.

Puzzle Pop HD - by Duck Duck Moose Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on December 14th, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Puzzle Pop HD - by Duck Duck Moose is a wonderful puzzle app that raises the bar as this is one of the best puzzle apps available in the iTunes store. With 27 levels of ascending difficulty, these puzzles are perfect for preschoolers and up, with the later puzzles challenging for older children and adults. Both iPad and iPhone versions of this application are available.

Duck Duck Moose has been a favorite developer with titles such as the Wheels on the Bus and their other toddler apps which are some of the first apps downloaded for my son - applications he still enjoys, even though there is a vast selection of other apps available to him.

Other apps that have impressed us greatly have been from their early learning series, Fish School, Park Math, Word Wagon and Musical Me, that teach basic recognition, early math, beginning literacy and preliminary music. Every subject tackled by these developers has created an application that is as engaging as it is educational, with bright and vivid, stylized artwork and lovely music, creating instrumental versions of classic nursery rhymes.

After hearing that their next app was a puzzle application, I was eager to see how Duck Duck Moose was going to make this genre new and different as this is what I have come to expect from these developers.

I have to say that this app is a wonderful, nearly perfect puzzle application that has become a family favorite in our household. What makes this app stand out from the crowd is the use of animated puzzles.

This becomes fascinating as these animated aspects don’t just bounce or quiver but move and are fully mobile, with elements such as Park Math's iconic roller-skating blue bear, swimming fish or lively ducks found throughout these levels. Fans of Duck Duck Moose will delight in their favorite apps represented here, such as the dancing monsters under the Eiffel Tower from Musical Me, or the wonderfully color fish from Fish School, as well as many new backgrounds found only within Puzzle Pop.

To play with these puzzles, drag a puzzle piece and drop in the correct position, understanding that the dropping of these pieces will move the puzzle pieces around it, much like a slider puzzle, making game play that much more challenging, especially in the later levels.

My son loves this application, and it is nice that the first level opens up with two simple pieces that must swap positions to complete this puzzle. The next few levels build on this same style, as the image is cut into more vertical pieces that one must organize correctly. Level five is the player's first experience with these puzzles not only being sectioned off into long vertical strips, but with top and bottom sections as well, starting a player off easy with the image cut into four corner pieces to re-arrange. As the levels progress, the pieces become smaller and the number of pieces going across the top and bottom expand.

It is also nice that these backgrounds are numerous and are chosen at random for the levels being played, so game play is never the same, and it is interesting how these scenes have varying degrees of difficulty themselves, depending on the level combination. I do confess that the first time I played these upper levels, I occasionally closed and opened the level page of this app to re-select a background to work on as some are easier than others when the pieces get small and plentiful.

These puzzles do have a time aspect as well, as the top left corner contains a timer. One must complete each puzzle in the time allotted to continue on to the next level, but I respect the fact that there is no jarring noise that sounds if the timer runs out and the player is still working on the puzzle. One is simply given a chance to try again with another random background.

We have a few large floor puzzles at home that we like to work on, and I am a consummate sorter when it comes to working on these jigsaws, separating the pieces into edge and middle piles, with special attention given to the corner pieces that are always laid out first.

Not everyone is as rigid as I am when it comes to puzzle game play, but I appreciate greatly how here, a faint white edge outlines these puzzles - a detail that can be seen when the puzzle is broken down and randomly mixed, allowing one to place the corners correctly and move the edges to their corresponding sides, From here I tend to work my way out from the corners, keeping in mind the pieces that fit correctly.

These puzzles get difficult, and my son does need help from an adult after a few levels. Because there is no completed image to reference - such as found on the cover of a puzzle box - it behooves players to focus on the scene to be worked on before it is split into pieces. Because of this, I think this app is not only good in terms of problem-solving but for memory as well, as remembering the placement of certain details makes completing these puzzles a lot easier.

I have had the privilege of trying out both the iPhone and iPad versions of this application, and I am happy to say that game play was simple, intuitive and looks lovely on the iPhone, but we greatly enjoyed this app in HD because within this app, one can move multiple pieces together around the screen, helpful when the puzzle is partially complete. My son has an easier time doing this on the larger screen of the iPad, and the background details that become important when placing these puzzle pieces together are easier to see in the iPad version as well.

Adults as well as parents will be happy that these apps save their progress through the 27 levels, also allowing kids to go back to levels at their comfort level, or even slightly above in order to get their minds stimulated.

Both my husband and I have been asked at different times to help with the more advanced levels, and we found this app delightful, challenging and fun, as well as educational. The sight of the fractured moving elements really brings something new to puzzle applications, as these animated puzzles need a different thought process and strategy than traditional jigsaw puzzles, making this app a must-have for the entire family - preschool and up.

I can’t wait to see what new apps Duck Duck Moose will be developing in the future, as I have yet to be anything but impressed by their applications.

Peek-a-Zoo - by Duck Duck Moose Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on December 9th, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Peek-a-Zoo - by Duck Duck Moose is a charming new application that teaches subtle social cues and other info using lovely, bright and bold-colored animals that young kids and special needs children will enjoy.

This app first opens up to an area where each of these cute animals is introduced, as a row of friendly animals scroll across the screen. Tap to meet each of these creatures to hear their name and what kind of animal it is.

After all the introductions are made, use the arrow at the top right of the page to bring one to the next section of questions that test children’s social awareness and eye for details.

This next section has eight animals that one has previously met, arranged in two rows of four. A simple question will then be asked, such as “Who is eating,” or “Who is listening to music,” both narrated and printed at the top of the page. Look closely at the screen and tap, in one instance for a giraffe licking a lollipop, in another for a cat holding a radio up to its head.

The questions asked vary nicely, with many topics that may be addressed. Positions are explored, such as upside-down or backwards, and familiar activities, such as waving or sleeping are demonstrated, and it is super-cute when these animals differentiate themselves by being dressed up in a tie or talking on a telephone.

My son especially enjoys the question about who is hiding, with the animal in question blending into the brightly colored background, being concealed by camouflage.

Other times kids will need to identify each animal in terms of type, such as “lion” or “hippo.” For these questions, the animals are arranged around the screen with their bodies out of sight, relying on these animal faces to tell who is who.

Interestingly this app also focuses on teaching social cues, such as who is waving, sticking out their tongue or crying, which may be easy to spot as these actions are very specific, but this app also tackles more subtle emotions such as sadness, anger or surprise.

I appreciate how one must look closely, especially to perceive specific emotions displayed by these delightfully stylized animals as the slight differences in eyes and mouth placement or shape are demonstrative in expressing these emotions.

At first, I can see how one may mistake a few of these emotions, but it does get better as one familiarizes oneself with these darling creatures. My son does take his time studying these included characters before making his selection - a necessity oftentimes needed to make a correct selection.

These animals are quite charming, and my son and I enjoy this app very much, even though my son is older than the target toddler audience.

It is also wonderful that, although a correct answer is the ultimate goal, tapping on another animal is not portrayed as a mistake, but a chance to explore the whimsy that this app has to offer, as other animals may make animal sounds, talk in full sentences like “How are you today,” “I love you,” or “Can you dance the macaroni.”

Sometimes these animals speak in full baby babble or the sounds of children doing their best animal impersonations, as well as more realistic animal sounds. Toddlers will delight in hearing these child narrators delivering these fun details, adding richness to this application.

I think this app would be a wonderful app for toddlers, for the social aspect this offers, as well as for the cognitive awareness this app expects from its players.

Parents may be disappointed if one is expecting to use this app to truly teach animals and their sounds, and although I do think animal identification will be re-enforced, this is not the specific intent of this app, but what it sets out to teach it does well - in a charming manner that does not feel rushed in any way while teaching some thoughtful and important social cues.

For this reason, I think this app will be of huge benefit to children on the autism spectrum or other children with special needs who may need extra help picking up the social awareness that other typically developed children take for granted.

Parent and teachers using this app in this way may want to supplement this app with photos of humans making these same facial expressions to make the info being offered translate further, further demonstrating to those playing this app with what they may be looking for. Adults may want to be familiar with this app themselves to help guide children who may feel stuck on some of these more subtle social nuances.

There is little I would change about this app, but I think that pages where fewer animal emotions are mixed about with more tangible traits such as a party hat and present or upside-down may be easier for those with special needs to decipher - something to think about. A separate section that keeps the comparing of various emotions to a minimum may be helpful to some - maybe something to think about for a future update.

Musical Me! HD - By Duck Duck Moose Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on July 14th, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Musical Me! is the new creative and fun educational app from the developers at Duck Duck Moose, aimed at stimulating the interest of music in young children. Both iPad as well as iPhone versions are available.

It is great fun how this app stars Mozzarella the Mouse, taking place around the Eiffel Tower, much like Duck Duck Moose's previous app Word Wagon.

Here, visit five activities, nicely varied and beautiful to look at, which include the fundamentals of music in such activities as a Memory section in which a Simon-styled mini-game helps train the memory as the player tries to play back notes heard. Rhythm is taught by tapping birds as they appear left of the screen, as these spacing of these birds teaching about long and short notes. Dance is introduced by the tapping of friendly monsters to make them dance to the beat of music being played, a favorite section of my son’s. My son also really enjoys the instruments section a great deal as he can make his own music nicely accompanied by a selection of upbeat kids songs, with instruments such as drum, cymbals, triangle, egg shaker, or a duck that squeaks just for fun - a nice touch. Another interesting section is included where the player can change the notes used in favorite traditional songs, creating one's own music on a staff. Do tap the other animals one may find amongst these sections to find many surprises that are all utterly Duck Duck Moose.

I enjoy how this app makes use of vertical space as Moz leads the player to different locations with the tap of a finger, from the base of the Eiffel Tower, up into the sky, with the Tower seen in the backdrop as one taps the birds flying by in the rhythm section and up higher into the upper atmosphere to play the memory game, with a nice use of planets that play notes one must memorize and play back. From the sky, Moz takes the players down into the ocean, teaching about notes on a staff underwater, complete with fun water sounds and fish to tap at for fun, and then back to land again to play various instruments.

The sense of space this creates is very good and quite unique. The details of Moz’s change of clothing for the different modes are really fun details as well, ranging from a space suit to wet suit as well as a tux for when he conducts during the instruments section.

The rhythm, memory, and notes section contains three levels of difficulty, and it is impressive that different instruments can be used during these activities such as piano, guitar, or violin, as well as the use of solfège syllable, sung do-re-mi-fa-sol. It is also impressive the amount of popular traditional songs used in this app, both as instrumental as well as sung, and I have greatly enjoyed hearing the verses of these popular songs that I am not familiar with from such tunes as Yankee Doodle Dandie, Pop Goes the Weasel, or The Farmer in the Dell, finding this experience educational in and of itself.

This app has a lot to offer kids of many ages and skill sets. The youngest kids will have fun tapping fun, colorful monsters, making them dance and making music or noise from the instruments offered. Older children will have fun tapping on the birds as they move across the screen. My son, now 3.5 years, also has a lot of fun with the memory mode of this app, watching intently as I play this mini-game for him as he is not yet able to remember the sequencing of these notes, something he will enjoy when he is older, I am sure.

Possibly the most impressive part of this app is the notes section where one can play instrumental versions of many popular kids songs, changing the notes at will with a vertical slide of a finger, watching as these notes' names, sound, and color transform, helping the child visualize the differences they experiences as these notes change. Everything is provided to allow a bright, musically inclined child to decode the basics in the complex task of reading music as they changes notes and listens to the music played back - be it a slightly altered rendition of an included song or a completely new piece of music, but I do wish the spacing of these notes could be moved horizontally on the staff as well to truly create something entirely different.

I have no musical training; keeping in mind parents such as myself, it would be a wonderful inclusion for a future update to include a parents section explaining how best to use this activity, as without prior music instruction themselves, adults may lack the vocabulary to fully articulate what is being explained in this section.

The sounds from each individual note played to the full songs used, both instrumental and sung, sound amazing and this app has a great deal to offer kids of many ages and abilities. You simply can’t go wrong with a Duck Duck Moose app, I look forward to their next app.

Word Wagon Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on June 9th, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Word Wagon is a wonderful application from the developers at Duck Duck Moose that teaches letters, phonics and two levels of spelling in this very well done educational app. Recently an iPad version of this app has been released, which includes seven letter words as well.

I enjoy this application very much, as does my son, now three. We are not new to the world of letters and phonics apps, and I believe they have helped my son know all his letters by two. My son has also learned all of his phonics sounds from various applications.

It is not uncommon for these letters apps to work in a similar way to Word Wagon, as one must match the letters of a specific word, dragging corresponding letters to the letter boxes that make up the word in question. This is an effective way to teach letters, phonic sounds, and object names and is surely more engaging than learning a rote spelling lesson, but they often lack the fun factor of many other apps.

Word Wagon stands out among this style of apps as it possesses a quirkiness and charm that these apps, excluding some notable exceptions, don’t typically have. Here, you get to meet Mozerella the mouse and his little bird friend Coco. The introduction of this app is simply darling, and I love that this app takes place near the Eiffel Tower.

The word puzzles are as described above, in the letters and phonics section, one matches the letters of a word, dragging these letters into the letter boxes that make up the word in question. Later, in the spelling modes, these letter boxes are empty and need to be filled; copying the letters is not an option. When the word is finished, the phonic sounds which make up this word are also spoken and each letter or letter combination is highlighted.

I also like that in the letter section, the letter names are the focus without the phonic sounds, being a nice primer for those who are new to basic letters, as this app grows nicely with the child’s ability. I like that both upper as well as lower case letters can be chosen, a nice touch and a thoughtful inclusion missed in many letters games. In the future, it may be interesting to add a mode where letters in harder sections need to be put into their boxes from left to right the way words are spelled in English.

It is very charming how Moz the mouse jumps over these objects as they move past him on a conveyer belt, giving the player a choice of what word to tap and learn about, an element my son really enjoys. The object can be tapped to hear the name being narrated and the letters can be tapped for their names as well. There are six sections such as colors and numbers, animals, or transportation. My favorite mode is “Moz and Coco,” which is a more personal section regarding these two characters. This section can have more of a puzzle element as sometimes arrows will point to Moz’s ears or tail to explain “ears” or “tail” as key words, with other varied words included such as “love.”

No matter what section or level one chooses to play, the best aspect of this app may be being able to tap Moz or Coco to hear their delightful banter full of whimsy, keeping this game light and fun. Moz may dress up like a ghost, they may play a simple game of “hide and seek,” or it may even rain pickles. This lets the player take a break when desired, keeping this app light and fun, encouraging continued game play.

It is nice that one can re-visit the words already mastered, and that one earns stars along the way for finished word puzzles, as these stars can create constellations in the night sky in the shape of animals as a reward for a job well done, this area of the app is both very lovely to look at and fun to play with.

What impresses me the most about this app is that these developers have included words past the simple “Cat” and “Dog” words found in most phonics games in later sections of this app. Words are included with group letters and sounds together, such as “st,” “ch” and also mixing vowel sounds as well, such as “ea” in “ears” as well as silent letters, such as “e” at the end of a word, like “love,” and it is great that this silent letter is highlighted like the rest of the letters but left silent when the phonic narration begins, really explaining how the "e" in this word is special. I have never seen these more advanced phonic sounds tackled in an app before and it is impressive.

My son has known for quite some time all the sounds the letters make and has been able to sound out the simplest of words by himself, but until now I was at a loss as to how to teach him these more advanced phonics that will make the difference between truly reading and merely being able to pick a few easy words from a page.

This app allows a child the chance to learn how to decode words for himself, and I think this will go a very long way to actual understanding of language. Although my boy is not ready to play the new spelling level recently added to the HD version of Word Wagon on his own, I like to play this section with him, as I think it is great just for him to see what different letter combinations look like and sound like together with words such as "cheese." involving "ch" sound, the double vowel combination and silent letter at the end.

English is a difficult language to learn and I am very happy to have this app, which I think will make things a little easier for my son. Best of all, this app will not feel like work, something very important as some do not want to turn a child off from reading by taxing him with activities that are boring or simply not a lot of fun. I think this would also be an excellent app for English-as-a-second-language students, young and old alike, as well as special needs students who may not only benefit from the language aspect of this app, but from Moz and Coco’s social interaction as well as well as the exposure to the nuances of the English language.

Although this app will entertain and teach kids on their own, I do think children will get the most out of this app if played with an adult who can further explain what they are learning, especially regarding the more advanced phonic sounds.

Park Math Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on December 13th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Park Math is a wonderful iPhone app from one of my favorite developers, Duck Duck Moose. This app helps kids ages 1-6 explore math concepts in a way that is bright and cheerful and above all else, never seems like work. I am impressed with how content-rich the app is, having 7 activities to choose from as well as two levels of difficulty, all with a lovely theme of animals having fun, playing at a park. Recently, an iPad version, Park Math HD has been released which also includes a 3rd level as well.

I really like how children get to choose to either follow a roller-skating blue bear as he leads them through the park to different games, or simply choose a section by tapping one of seven kite icons the sky above which represent each activity. I also appreciate how different levels of knowledge are covered, from the basics of counting in sequence to more advanced math like addition and subtraction which are very interactive, tapping to add ducks as they take their turns down a slide, and learning by subtracting apples as they fall from trees. Best of all, kids can take their time learning these concepts, working at their own pace without feeling rushed. It intrigues me how focused my son is when he is working with this app, and I do see these experiences transitioning into his daily life. He has become very interested in counting the objects of his world, now we add as well as take things away from his piles and I am happy to say he can keep up. This app is educational, but more importantly, it is fun. My son really enjoys all the animals this app has to offer, having lots of fun interacting with them.

I would love Duck Duck Moose to do for basic reading what it did for math. A lot of apps teach the alphabet, but I would love to see one go further down this path to including both the letters and phonics as well as sounding out words and ultimately sentences. If anyone can do this, it is Duck Duck Moose.

Wheels on the Bus

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Christine Morris on February 18th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarstar :: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
This application is a singing book designed to entertain a young child. However, it is much more than that. It has multiple languages, instruments and recording support, turning it into a great educational tool.
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