Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2012
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Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel

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Fun exploration for kids; learning relies on grown-up input

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
Pre-K This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Free exploration allows kids to be creative and fully in charge of their experience.

Cons: In terms of explicit learning content, there's very little here.

Bottom Line: Kids will enjoy exploring and playing, as well as talking with a grown-up about what they can learn.

Teachers can use these games as conversation starters about kids' own thoughts and experiences. For instance, kids can put Daniel to sleep and then talk about their own bedrooms or sleep routines. The music section has what might be the most classroom potential -- teachers can lead kids to explore different emotions, how they can be expressed, and how to manage them (like healthy ways to express anger). Kids can also practice reading emotions by asking what makes the music happy, sad, or angry. Since a lot of the learning potential relies on meaningful grown-up/child interactions, play might best be suited to small-group activities where kids can take turns exploring amidst meaningful discussion.

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Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood invites kids to explore the different parts of his neighborhood. Kids can play "doctor" and learn about five commonly used tools in the doctor's office (pen light, tongue depressor, stethoscope, needle for shots, and otoscope). In the music section, they can create music with three different "moods" (happy, sad, and angry), each associated with a different kind of weather (sunny, rainy, stormy).

Kids can visit Daniel's bathroom where they interact with the sink, toilet, and a little toilet. In the sticker section, kids can choose from five backgrounds and add as many "stickers" as they like. Kids can save their creation by sending it to the device's camera roll. Finally, kids visit Daniel's bedroom, where they help him go to sleep by giving him a blanket and turning off the lights.

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Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood allows kids to freely explore a variety of topics that, while they might seem random, are bound to be of interest to little ones. It's important to note that there isn't any actual learning content embedded in the app itself (aside from learning the names of a few doctor's tools). Therefore, playing these games will only be meaningful and instructive if a grown-up or teacher plays along with kids, using the games to start conversations.

While "playing doctor" might help familiarize kids with what's in a doctor's office, talking about the experience of visiting a doctor will make the learning come alive. The music section is fun and valuable for simple creation, but talking about emotional experiences (and how those can be reflected in weather, music) will really enhance what the app can teach. In fact, it would be nice if the app's information section included tips and guidelines for conversation and off-screen activities to make play a real learning experience.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Poking around Daniel Tiger's house can be fun for little ones who like to explore, experiment, and create. However, there's only so much to do, and kids may quickly exhaust the possibilities.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Within the actual app there's very little learning content -- most learning will come from adult-child interactions and conversations that the app inspires through exploration.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

There isn't much to explain as most play involves simple exploration ("tap here to see what happens"). Kids can save their sticker artwork in the camera roll. Suggestions for meaningful off screen extensions would be nice.


Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Joanna S. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Carolina Friends School
Durham, NC
3
Adorable tiger creates open-ended play for preschoolers

This app is made of five mini-apps, in which toddlers and preschoolers can explore Daniel Tiger's home and neighborhood. Doctor, bedroom, and bathroom are dollhouse-like environments. Children can pick up various items and use them to play with Daniel. There are no particular goals (other than getting Daniel to sleep in the bedroom) and imagination is encouraged just like in the PBS show. In the music mini-app, children can play along with several songs on simple instrument. Changing the song makes Daniel dance differently and show how music affects/expresses emotion. The small number of choices is limiting for older children, but less overwhelming than many music apps for the youngest learners. Finally, there is a stickerbook in which children may create scenes and save them to the photo library.

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