When I was asked if I'd like to try out a new kids' iPad app called Peekaboo Barn, I said yes but I'd never actually heard of it. It turns out that for nearly three years, it has been one of the best-loved children's apps of all time on the iPhone but it is now also available for the iPad.
The app is incredibly simple and I was actually amazed at how long the Madhouse Mini-testers played with it and how much fun they had ! You have a big red American-style barn (which your kids will recognise from their Little People playsets, if they've got one) which shakes and makes an animal noise. You have to guess which animal is hiding inside and when you tap on the barn door, it opens up to reveal the animal. This was enough to have 2-year-old Pierre in fits of giggles !
The educational aspect doesn't stop there though. You also hear a voice saying the name of the animal and the word appears on screen so it's great for word recognition and reinforcing early reading skills.
We haven't experimented with this aspect - because the kids love the "American child" voice and don't want me to change it ! - but you can also change languages and even record your (or friends' and grandparents') voices to make it totally personalised. This would be a lovely touch for any relatives who live a long way away and who don't get to visit often, or for any parents who have to leave home for extended periods - for example those in the Armed Forces - who want to leave a special reminder of themselves before going away.
If you want to learn the animal vocabulary in a foreign language, you get American English and Spanish automatically but you also have the option to purchase extra language packs within the game for 99 cents. The Asian languages pack offers Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese and the European languages pack features Swedish, Dutch, Italian, German, and French.
Since 2008, Peekaboo Barn has been downloaded over half a million times, and played over 18 million times worldwide. It has been a top 20 educational game on the iTunes store nearly every day since its launch, and has been featured by Apple several times. It won The Best Toddler App Ever award in 2009, and was named one of the top 50 iPhone apps for kids by Babble.com in 2010 and 2011. It is recommended by The New York Times, MSNBC, USA Today, Wired, Telegraph UK, Irelandʼs The Independent, Parents Magazine, and the Washington Post.
I was amazed to see just how absorbed the kids were in such a simple game and I have definitely noticed that Pierre has got better at recognising animal sounds and naming animals since he's been playing with the app. They can therefore add the Madhouse Family Seal of Approval to their long list of awards too !
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £1.49
for more information : http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/peekaboo-barn-for-ipad/id465731441?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
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