What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Zoo Train is a five-in-one learning game for preschoolers. The games are mostly simple and easy to use, and the colorful animals and trains are appropriate for young children. Aside from the info screen, there aren't any brands or ads, and since the game does not connect to the Internet there are no privacy or safety issues. Parents purchasing from Google Play should take care to buy the Busy Bee Studios app; a free app with the same name appears in Google Play under the develeloper sharkerapp, but this is a counterfeit app that potentially contains malware.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- letter or word recognition
Thinking & Reasoning
- solving puzzles
Engagement, Approach, Support
Kids (especially vehicle lovers!) will have fun as they drag and drop cars to make a train, find out how pieces fit together to make a track, create pictures with shapes, and, finally, learn how letters come together to make words.
Zoo Train offers several ways for kids to develop fine motor skills by dragging and dropping puzzle pieces or train cars or letters into place and to develop prereading skills as they see how parts come together to make a whole, just as letter and sounds come together to make words.
The developer's website has lots of support, including a FAQ for parents and fun activities such as printables and puzzles for kids.
What's it about?
ZOO TRAIN offers five games in a single app, all of which help preschoolers develop pre-reading skills. One game lets kids drag and drop puzzle pieces to complete a picture, while another has them organizing train cars to assemble a train, then choosing the background it travels through. They can hear familiar songs, make their own music (all played through train whistles), complete a train track by matching the right piece of track to the open spaces, and finally, match letters to complete words. After finishing each game, kids add stickers to their virtual suitcase.
Is it any good?
ZOO TRAIN is a delightful little app with five different games for preschoolers. Each of the games is designed to be so intuitive that even very young children will be able to figure most of them out without much help from parents. The jigsaw puzzles and the train tracks both teach shape-matching; the train tracks puzzles are challenging and may be difficult for some young children. There is a train whistle game, with each whistle playing a different note. Children can play their own tunes, or tap one of four icons to play a song such as "Three Blind Mice" or "Mary Had a Little Lamb." The train game allows the child to choose a locomotive, four train cars, and a background, and then watch as the train chugs past their selected scene. Finally, the letter game involves dragging letter blocks to the right spots to spell a word -- the letters are then read in order, a picture appears, and the word is pronounced.
Throughout the game, the player will get a screen with a suitcase to which they can add "stickers." These stickers accumulate so the child can see how much they've played. The graphics are colorful and excellent, and it's a nice combination of games in a single app.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how to prepare kids for reading -- help them build pre-reading skills by completing puzzles and playing matching games.
Incorporate interests, like trains, into activities that will develop early literacy skills -- read books about trains, complete puzzles about trains, color pictures about trains.