Ruckus Media has been receiving lots of well-deserved attention recently for their newest original app, Spot the Dot. Created by best-selling author and pop-up artist, David A. Carter, Spot the Dot is a delightful and addictive iPad® book app that encourages children to hunt for dots of a particular color on each page. I enjoy this app as much as my children do.
On their website, Ruckus Media Group claims it’s mission is “to create experiences through mobile devices that entertain toddlers to teens from their fingers to their minds — and invite their imaginations to grow.” Hmmmm…. Toddlers to teens… growing imaginations… Sounds perfect for my house! So, I’ve enlisted a few of my kids to help me shed some light on Spot the Dot, as well as three other popular titles from Ruckus Media.
Spot the Dot is one of my new favorites. The text and pages are bold and colorful and very easy for small children to understand. The letter “o” of each “Spot the Dot” sentence turns into the color of the dot the child is asked to search for. The iTunes rating is 4+, but I believe parents can probably assist smaller children with this one. It would make a nice way for young children to learn colors. My 2 1/2 year old daughter does not sit still with me long enough for this yet (and will never let me assist her with anything); however, I know other toddlers who would have no trouble using this app with a parent. I am really anxious for her to discover it, though, as I find it so enjoyable myself. I especially love that each page contains a new and progressively more challenging way to “spot the dot”, and that each time you re-start the app, the dot is in a new location.
My youngest son, age 7, likes the app very much. He uses it independently with no trouble at all. And my daughter, age 10, enjoys it as well. While it seems obvious from the bold print and simple text that the book app is designed for amuch younger child, my daughter still likes searching for the dots. Her favorite pages are the one that uses a flashlight effect to shine light on the dots, and the giant page that allows her to scroll around with her finger to find the tiny, hidden dot among lots of tiny shapes and colors. Spot the Dot is perfect entertainment for a preschooler, but can be fun for the whole family.
My children also enjoy Ruckus Media’s A Present for Milo: A Touch And Surprise Storybook, written and illustrated by Mike Austin. The story is delightful and the illustrations are adorable. My children are amused by the playfulness of the cat chasing the mouse all through the house, and love all of the extra “surprises” that can be found on each page by tapping on the illustrations. Like Spot the Dot, this book is best suited for preschoolers, but my children ages 2 1/2 and 7 year old both enjoyed exploring A Present for Milo. The toddler really likes the page with the piano. She likes the rhythmic sound of the metronome and tapping the musical notes. (Although, I do wish the metronome and the notes could be used at the same time.) My son likes the silliness of the mouse and all of the extra effects that happen when he taps objects on each page. Wonderful sound effects accompany each animation. With pleasant narration, easy to read text, and engaging characters, A Present for Milo is an excellent storybook app for beginning readers. And the fun touch “surprises” make it appealing to little ones, too.
Rainforest Survival Challenge is a Ruckus Media game for the iPad® that my ten year old daughter absolutely loves. She got to it before I did, and was happy to give me her “review” of the app. First, my daughter recommends that other kids begin by reading the directions. (Wow, did my daughter actually say that?) She apparently tried to jump right into the game without doing so the first time and ended up going back to read the section on “How to Play”. The game is played by arranging a series of cards strategically in order to best challenge the computer’s cards. Each card represents a rainforest plant or animal and the goal is to have more of your species survive each challenge than the computer. To help decide the best placement of cards, players tap on the cards to learn more about each species, including its diet and threats to survival. My daughter likes reading about the various species and enjoys the strategy involved in making decisions about the placement of each card. She is especially tickled by the fact that “fungus” is one of the cards in the game. I played the game after hearing her rave review, and agree that it is a fun, strategy style game. In order to play the best hand, it is important to read about each card. For this reason, I recommend this app for children who like to read and enjoy science and learning games. My daughter is exactly this kind of kid, so Rainforest Survival Challenge is an excellent app for her.
By far, one of the best loved Ruckus Media apps at our house right now is Andrew Answers by Alan Katz. It is a cartoon-style comedic story about a young boy who is asked by his teacher to tell the class a word that starts with the letter N. Of course, Andrew responds with the word, “No.” Each time his teacher repeats the request, Andrew comes up with additional N words to continue the joke, like “Never” and “Nonsense”. You get the idea. Throughout the story young Andrew baffles his teachers, the principal, his parents, and even prominent government officials by cleverly responding to questions with a correct answer that implies insubordination. It’s the old “Who’s on First?” gag re-made with a hip, cartoon feel.
I read the story before my children, and I must admit I found myself wondering how long the gag would actually work and whether the humor would continue to be funny to them page after page. Apparently, yes, they do think it’s funny. Very funny. I could hear the seven and ten year olds giggling in the back of the car as they read the book app on the iPad® for the first time. And if you ask them why they like it, they will tell you, “because it’s funny!” My daughter also really enjoys the cartoon style and the fact that there are mini games in between some of the pages, like tilting the iPad® to help steer the parent’s car into the school parking lot. So, for my two elementary school aged kids, Andrew Answers is a huge hit.
In addition to these apps, Rukus Media also offers a wide variety of children’s media available on both iOS and Android devices. Several award-winning titles from the popular Rabbit Ears Library of classic stories for children, such as The Velveteen Rabbit (told by Merryl Streep) and Pecos Bill (told by Robin Williams), are offered exclusively on mobile devices by Ruckus Media. And recently Hasbro Toys has announced a licensing agreement with Ruckus to produce interactive storybooks for titles such as My Little Pony and Tonka Chuck and Friends. More information about these and other Ruckus Media titles can be found on their website.
Apps were provided by Ruckus Media for Review Purposes.