App review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2012
Peek-a-Zoo - By Duck Duck Moose
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Peek-a-Zoo - by Duck Duck Moose

Cute, vibrant app helps kids learn social-emotional cues and vocab

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Learning rating
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Grades
Pre-K–K
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Animals grab kids' attention and engage them in animations and interesting questions.

Cons: Sometimes the animal faces or actions may not immediately translate to human emotions for kids.

Bottom Line: Cute and funny animals ask kids clear questions to help them think about emotions, social communications, and actions.

Peek-a-Zoo is a simple, visually engaging app that can be used in a classroom-wide or small group lesson, or by students solo. It can help students recognize social cues, identify emotions, recall animal names, and learn some action words by studying the facial expressions and behaviors of animals. As animals appear around the screen, kids choose the answer by pointing to the animal (or tapping it onscreen) that answers the question, which might be "Who is waving?" or "Who is trying to hide?" This app will work better for classroom-wide lessons in rooms with the ability to display the iPad screen on a TV or monitor. Otherwise, Peek-a-Zoo is best for small groups. It may also be used solo by emerging readers, for whom it may help expand vocabulary as it provides both text and audio of the questions.

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Peek-a-Zoo is a questions-based app that, among other things, helps link sound and visual cues with vocabulary. Who is yelling? Who is sad? Students view animals smiling, crying, winking, waving, barking, eating, and more. They see animals standing backwards and upside down. Peek-a-Zoo also gently encourages young students to analyze the animals for clues to answer questions and come to conclusions. For example, "Who is Linus the Lion?" requires kids to make the cognitive jump from seeing a lion on the screen with no name attached and noticing there's no other lion on the screen. Even if they don't recall the lion's name from the intro, kids can surmise that this lion's name must be Linus, and then tap the lion to answer. Through the questions, kids are encouraged to identify emotions, label feelings, and take note of specific actions. The questions on Peek-a-Zoo are written as well as spoken, which helps pre- and emerging readers. Questions are repeated depending on how much time students spend with Peek-a-Zoo.

With its easy-to-use format and creative yet simple animal animations, Peek-a-Zoo supports teachers in providing kids with all-important lessons about social and emotional cues, which can be applied in endless situations in and out of the classroom. It may be useful in future versions to add some zoo visitors (humans) to the mix so kids can see human faces portraying these actions, messages, and emotions. Peek-a-Zoo can spark further discussion and help teachers reinforce a message they're conveying to kids in everyday teaching moments. 

Overall Rating

Engagement

Bright, charming animals and an uncluttered interface make this app engaging for both solo play and presenting to a group.

Pedagogy

Kids learn by viewing the animals' reactions, expressions, and movements and making conclusions about what they mean. Kids also learn via repetition, as the same questions are repeated.

Support

Feedback is limited, so this app is best used with an adult's guidance.


Common Sense reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

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Featured review by
Emily S. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Holly Hills Elementary School
Denver, United States
More of a 'test' for social vocabulary than a game for preschool kids
This app was not what I expected, and I'm disappointed that I paid for it. My son tried it out, and he LOVES the iPad and pretty much anything on it! He does have special needs, and he does not speak, but he is a master at using the iPad. He began navigating his way through the program easily, but he lost interest pretty quickly. He has gone back to it several times, but he does not use it in the way it is intended. He likes the fact that it does not have an "end" and he can click on anything without th ...
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