By Busy Bee Studios
Lets go on a train ride through a variety of activities: puzzle making, rocking out with classical nursery rhyme songs, creative manipulation and vocabulary building. Applicable2U is not only looking for apps that apply to my work environment but also apps that will encourage and develop academic skills of my son. When Zoo Train came across my radar, I instantly went to my iTunes library to do a little research. I was impressed with the detailed description that they provided and felt confident that this was an app that needed to be added to my review blog. Although my son is reaching kindergarten age, the skills that Zoo Train has chosen to reinforce are certainly still appealing to him. Who wouldn’t want to build puzzles, trains and to make music at the touch of your fingers.
Zoo Train offers 5 game modes: Puzzle Building, Steam Whistle Music with a hint of nursery rhymes, Build Your Own Train, Vocabulary Builder, and Build Your Own Train Track. When traveling, one might carry a suitcase and what should we fill it with while on the Zoo Train? Stickers!! As a user progresses through activities, they will earn stickers to share where they have traveled. One might call it a preschool version of a passport. Zoo Train offers positive reinforcement, repetition and the ability for a child to develop their “creator side” as my son likes to call it.
Puzzle Maker: users will be given an outline of an object. They are required to used the jumbled pieces to build each puzzle. Pieces will lock into place as they are dragged to the appropriate place. If incorrect, they will bounce back out. As a user builds they can visually see their success rate with the help of a train conductor moving along a track. Once he arrives at the station, a sticker may be chosen and place on the users suitcase.
Music Maker: here a user can listen to four nursery rhymes as steam whistles blow out the familiar tunes. If your preschooler is a lover of music then they will enjoy the option to make their own sounds by tapping each colored steam whistle. Tap them all at once, and your little musician will be amazed!
Build Your Own Train: within this activity you are given four choices of train cars, the user is to drag and drop each part of the train into place at the bottom of the screen. At first I thought it had to match the “empty” train at the bottom of the screen but quickly found out that this activity is all about being creative! Once the five piece train set is built, a user is then instructed to select a background that they can then see their train a part of.
Vocabulary/Word Builder: this activity encourages letter recognition to build various words.
Build Your Own Train Track: this particular activity develops upon puzzle building. Various pieces of the track are provided and the user needs to drag and drop them into place. Once the entire track has been built, their train will begin to move.
From the point of view of a parent and as a teacher, this application has a great deal of potential. There are however, things that I would love to see in the next version of Zoo Train. I was surprised to find that there was not an “info” button which would allow a parent or teacher to set certain preferences for those using this application. Such preferences might be: levels of difficulty within certain games which would enhance each use, choosing the length of a word while in the Word Builder game, or even the ability to reset the game if necessary. Another idea might be, as your child or student is in the Puzzle Maker game and building with success, each proceeding puzzle becomes more difficult. Since images are repeated why not take away the dotted picture and have them build based on their memory. As they drag and drop parts, if correct, it locks in place. For Applicable2U, applications need to be about “gaming for a reason!” This certainly does just that, but it would be interesting to see how this application could progress from preschool to children that are early kindergarten age.
If you have a preschooler that loves to build, create and listen to music and is on their way to developing their vocabulary, then Zoo Train is applicable to you!!! If you would like to learn more about Busy Bee Studios then be sure to visit their website or you can go right to your iTunes library to begin downloading Zoo Train today!