Zoo Train

Common Sense Media says

Five-in-one preschool learning app is intuitive.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

The main menu presents five games that are intuitive and easy to play, although the train tracks game may be challenging for younger children. There are no instructions included, but most young children will be able to figure the games out with only minimal assistance.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

On the main menu, there is a lever in the corner that brings up a page about the developer with a link to their website.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

The developer's website includes a detailed privacy policy, and there's no login or request for info from players. 

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

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

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.

Learning Approach

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. 

Support

The developer's website has lots of support, including a FAQ for parents and fun activities such as printables and puzzles for kids. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Kids can learn prereading skills by matching shapes and letters and puzzle pieces. Zoo Train is geared to preschoolers, offering simple activities that require no instruction. Each activity can be completed quickly, just right for a preschooler's attention span. Incorrect moves just don't stick, so kids are motivated to keep trying. The praise such as "Good job" and "You’re good at this" after kids complete tasks would be more effective if it were more specific. Preschoolers will enjoy the puzzles and praise, and parents will be happy with the high-quality, age-appropriate activities.

This Learning Rating review was written by Amanda Bindel

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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?

QUALITY
 

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.

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  • Incorporate interests, like trains, into activities that will develop early literacy skills -- read books about trains, complete puzzles about trains, color pictures about trains.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
Price:$.99
Release date:December 16, 2010
Category:Kids Games
Publisher:Busy Bee Studios
Version:1.0
Minimum software requirements:iOS 3.2 or later

This review of Zoo Train was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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