Tag Archives: duck duck moose

An Interview with Duck, Duck, Moose

Back when I was packing my suitcase with drugs and kid-friendly iPhone Apps for my favorite activity, flying with kids, I came across “Trucks” by Duck, Duck, Moose.

“Trucks” was an instant hit with K-Pants because it’s like playing with Tonka trucks on the iPhone.

MomsicleBlog: Construction play in Trucks app by Duck Duck Moose

Sara over at Duck, Duck, Moose happened to notice I was loving on “Trucks,” and offered to have me review a new app.

The problem is that I don’t really review things unless offered either a) a year’s supply of bleu cheese, or b) a three-hour boat tour around the entire island of Manhattan. (Despite my  best efforts, that mythical cruise never happened.)

But I was still interested in chatting with Duck, Duck, Moose, because I wanted to know how these guys figured out the deceptively simple world of preschool gaming.

So many preschool apps seem like they are designed by programming droids trying to remember their long-ago childhoods. But Duck, Duck, Moose designs games with the bright, simple, hedonistic soul of a preschooler.

They view children’s apps like pop-up books with good music and touch technology.

Yes! Why don’t more people get it!?

So here’s a bit of insight into Duck, Duck, Moose’s world through a little banter with Caroline Hu Flexer, one of company’s founders.

(Caroline’s the one in the middle. BTW, she also parents small people.)

Duck Duck Moose

Some Push and Shove with Caroline Hu Flexer of duck, duck, moose

Me: Children are everywhere–in schools, under rocks, on tops of tables. (Well, my tables, at least.) There’s no mystery here, so why is it so hard for adults to really get into their heads when designing games?

Caroline: Kids behave and think very differently from adults. That’s why it’s so important for us to work closely with kids in our design process. We have kids come into our offices, and we go out to classrooms every week. Every time we’re surprised by what we learn.

One example that I like to use is from when we were testing our Draw and Tell app with a four year old. The app has a tray of paint brushes in different colors, and we saw her choose the purple paint brush on the iPad. But then, we could see her hesitate and look at her finger. It was clear from her expression that she had changed her mind, and now wanted a different color. So, what did she do? She wiped her finger on her pants before choosing another color! This was not something that we anticipated!

Me: Tell us a funny story about pilot testing with kids.

Caroline: We use the testing to help us design better for kids and enjoy having the kids in the office. But the last time we tested one of the little girls started crying because her 30 minutes was up and she wanted to stay longer! We forgot that the kid testing session are just as much fun for the kids as they are for us.

Me: A lot of your job is looking at the world through a child’s eyes. Has all of this observation made you a better parent?

Caroline: I hope so! At least I try to observe them and listen to what they’re saying, before opening my own mouth (but not always). My seven year old does a good imitation of me, and it does not involve me quietly observing.

Me: What is Duck, Duck, Moose going to do in 2013 to save me from insanity during cross-country air travel with a preschooler and a toddler? Keep in mind I’m only armed with Benadryl, Dramamine, a husband, and an iPhone.

Caroline: We will keep your kids singing, making up stories, drawing, driving trucks, recording their own voices and greetings, learning their numbers and letters, and more!

Me: Well, let’s hope Duck, Duck, Moose and the drugs can work their magic. Thank you, Caroline!

If you’re a game-design nerd, you’ll also eat up this post from the Duck, Duck, Moose blog about their dynamic process.

Favorite Preschool iPhone Apps for Travel

It’s mid-December, so it’s probably time for you to get on a plane with the kids. You would rather wait in line at the DMV for six hours with no coffee.

Thank goodness for modern technology!

Here are the apps that saved us on a 4-flight journey (round trip) to see our family in Florida. The Momsicle Facebook community helped me improve my selection of iPhone apps for the kids (ages 3 and 1). Please leave a comment to let us know what your own favorites are!

Momsicle’s Favorite Preschool iPhone Apps

Trucks by Duck Duck Moose

K-Pants–the three year old–could choose to drag a car through the mud and then wash it; collect trash and recycling; load and move dirt with construction equipment; direct traffic with a traffic light; or fix flat tires at the mechanic.

Finger tapping is incredibly simple in all options except the trash and recycling game (but still not too hard there). Since we couldn’t pack our Tonka trucks in our carry-on luggage, Trucks by Duck Duck Moose was the next best thing.

Toca Train by Toca Boca

This game feels like being on the Island of Sodor. If your child is a Thomas fan, we highly recommend it.

Kids can drive the train around, blow the whistle, pick up passengers, and carry and drop-off freight. It helps to have an adult practice with the preschooler for at least the first time or two, because they might miss stations or have trouble with the speed lever. But once or twice was all it took for K-Pants to be independent.

Monster at the End of This Book by Sesame Street

It’s a classic and Sesame did a great job bringing the book to life in this app. K-Pants thought Grover was so funny.

K-Pants’s favorite parts were the interactive pages: snapping the ropes and breaking down the brick wall (above). It helps to show your preschooler how to switch to a favorite page. The down side to this app is that it can take a while to load from page to page, and preschoolers don’t have much patience.

Toca Kitchen Monsters by Toca Boca

Toca Monsters

Kids choose a monster and then decide what to feed it from the fridge. They can choose how to cook the food (chop, steam, sauté, blend).

Toca Monsters Kitchen

K-Pants really loves to blend things because the blender makes the phone vibrate. He ground up a lot of sausage and raw meat. Luckily his monster preferred them that way…

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A HUGE thank you to the Momsicle Facebook community for suggesting so many apps. We were saved because of it! We downloaded lots more that we really liked. These were the standouts. 

Note: All of these games are more like toys: you can play with them in various ways. Which is great for preschoolers (it can be stressful to try to “win” a game, especially when it’s hard enough to master the controls of each game). Also, I was not in any way sponsored by any of the developers of these games.