Zoodles Blog Learn and Play Every Day

July 27, 2011

Most Popular Android Apps for Kids

A little over a month ago, we released an awesome new feature that lets parents add any of the apps on their phone to Kid Mode.  Before, your three year old had to leave Kid Mode to play their favorite matching app.  Now, you can simply add that matching app to Kid Mode and your child can play it, and everything else their little heart desires, all from one place!

In the days that have followed, we’ve collected some brand spanking new data on what the most popular Android apps for kids are!

Without further ado, here are the top 5 most-played apps inside of Kid Mode:

hi-512-3 Angry Birds –  This might not come as much of a surprise, but Angry Birds, Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Seasons, and every other addictive version of this app lead the pack in what’s being added and played inside Kid Mode.  If you’re one of the five people who haven’t done so already, give Angry Birds a whirl and start slinging some birds inside Kid Mode!

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Ant Smasher – Here’s an app you might not have expected… Introducing Ant Smasher, a game that is all about exactly what it sounds like…smashing ants.  If the concept strikes your fancy (or more likely, your child’s), make sure the mayhem of Ant Smasher goes on within the safety of our app.

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Kids Doodle – The third most played app in Kid Mode is Kids Doodle by Bejoy.  With Kids Doodle, even the youngest kids can have fun drawing!  As your child draws, the colors, textures and tools randomly change so their drawing is different every time.  If your child likes art and neon colors, hook them up with some Kids Doodle in Kid Mode!

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Kids Connect the Dots Lite – Published by educational app maker Intellijoy, Kids Connect the Dots is a simple game where young ones connect numbers and letters to make fun shapes and pictures come to life.  If you haven’t checked out Intellijoy’s apps already, definitely try Kids Connect the Dots Lite and include it in Kid Mode!

talking-tom-catTalking Tom Cat – Introducing Android’s favorite virtual pet, Talking Tom Cat!  Not much to say here except that kids love animals and boy, don’t we know it :-)  [Insert plug for the adorable puppy in our Zoodles computer app.]  If you’re interested in adopting a new messless pet, check out Talking Tom Cat and make your Kid Mode menagerie complete.

December 7, 2010

Introducing Kid Mode for Google Chrome

We believe that every device a child interacts with should come with a Kid Mode… a simple, safe, fun way for kids to interact with age appropriate games and activities.  Today we are excited to announce that one of the most popular browsers on the web, Google Chrome, can now be put into Kid Mode!  So parents who use Google Chrome as their web browser can install our Kid Mode app from the Google Webstore.  Once installed there will be a simple icon that parents can click to put their browser into Kid Mode!

Here is a great video that highlights all the great features of our Chrome App:

We are looking forward to hearing about how we can improve this app so please be sure to send us feedback:  Support AT Zoodles.com

Best,

Mark
CEO & Co-founder of Zoodles

October 27, 2010

Connecting Kids and Family Members through Video Mail and Storybooks

Mark Williamson, CEO & Co-Founder of Zoodles

Mark Williamson CEO & Co-Founder

One of the challenges that parents face is ensuring their kids build meaningful relationships with their aunts, uncles, grandparents and other family members.  This can be especially hard for families that are spread across the country like mine is.  While we live in California my daughters have aunts & uncles in Denver, Columbus OH, and Bethlehem PA while their grandparents are in Seattle and Columbus OH.  This means that they only get to see some of these family members once a year and with time zone differences it is close to impossible to Skype with them.

Since we build software that puts computers into Kid Mode, we thought we could improve the lives of families by enabling kids to connect with distant relatives.  Today we are announcing two new features that do exactly this:

Video Mail:

Finally, the most common activity online for adults – communications, is available to kids of all ages.  Zoodles Video Mail enables kids and family members to easily record and exchange video messages.  After a parent invites a family member to connect with their kids, that family member can record a message using a webcam, and that message is delivered directly to the child inside of the Zoodles computer app.  When a child clicks on their Mail tab, their new messages will immediately start to play as the picture below shows.

video_mail

A child can easily reply to any video message and it is so easy that my soon-to-be 3 year old daughter can do it too.

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Storybooks:

This feature was inspired by a conversation with a grandma in Texas who recorded herself reading books on mini-cassettes and mailed them to her grandchildren in California.  She was looking for a way for her grandchildren to hear her voice before bed so they could stay connected.  With Zoodles Storybooks she can now select one of the Zoodles classic storybooks to record for her grandchildren and they will automatically receive the recording in the Books tab inside the Zoodles computer app.  As the picture below shows, the experience is really compelling for kids:

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We hope that Zoodles can play a meaningful role in connecting families across the country, and we can’t wait to see how families use these new features.

Mark Williamson
CEO & co-founder

September 8, 2010

Introducing a new mode for Android phones – Kid Mode

Every smart phone today has an “Airplane Mode” which puts the phone in a state that is safe to use while flying on a plane.  Think about that, your phone has a simple mode that makes it safe to use on an airplane!  Why doesn’t your phone come with more “modes”?!?

Well today Zoodles is launching an entirely new mode for Android phones and we are calling it “Kid Mode”.  With our FREE Kid Mode app (available now in the Android Market) children 8 and under will have access to hundreds of age appropriate games and videos while parents will be able to relax knowing that their kids will no longer accidentally make calls, send emails or delete apps.  This is an app that the whole family will really love!

So here is how it works:
The Zoodles Kid Mode app is a really smart app that adapts to the child using it.  Games and videos are shown to a child based on their age and other optional information provided by parents (such as reading ability).  In addition to adjusting to the age and skills of the child, Kid Mode adjusts to the capabilities of the phone it is being run on.  For instance, on an Android device without Flash, the Zoodles app will detect the missing software and remove games from the system that require Flash.

Here is a sample 4 year old experience where Kid Mode is filled with letter recognition games, counting activities, and interactive storybooks:

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Here is a sample 7 year old experience where Kid Mode is filled with fun logic puzzles, language activities, and fraction games.

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Here is what a Flash game looks like in Kid Mode:

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Protecting your Android Phone:

The optional “Child Lock” feature of Kid Mode means you can hand your Android phone to your child without ever worrying about what they might accidentally do while on the phone (say good bye to random phone calls to the boss, erased emails and deleted apps).  To accomplish this we disable the built-in buttons on your phone, so your child can’t accidentally exit out while they’re playing.  While children can’t accidentally exit when our child lock is enabled parents will be able to exit easily by following on screen instructions that children can’t follow.

So head over to the Android Market on your phone and upgrade your phone with an entirely new mode – Kid Mode!

Finally, I want to say thanks to the team for working hard on this app and to all the kids who tested Kid Mode for us.

Best,

Mark Williamson
CEO & Co-founder of Zoodles
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September 2, 2010

Get Zoodles at your local library!

Filed under: Zoodles Blog — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Erin @ 2:27 pm

Zgisk_sealoodles recently won an award from the American Library Association for making Great Interactive Software for Kids.  This got us thinking… why not put Zoodles in libraries?

Kids spend a lot of times in libraries, especially after school when they’ve got a whole afternoon to burn before Mom or Dad gets home.  Why not give them a safe, fun learning alternative at the library too?

library Kids who don’t have computers at home will finally have access to all the great educational content that Zoodles has waiting for them, and parents can feel safe knowing that their kids are on a site they trust.

With these thoughts in mind, Zoodles is partnering with families and librarians nationwide to give kids a fun after-school learning activity at their local library.

To do this, we’re going to need your help.

As most of you know, we’re an insanely small team, so if you want Zoodles at your library, we’re asking that you serve as our spokesperson.  Talk to your friendly local librarian and tell them why Zoodles would be great for your community.

If you need some talking points, print out the flyer below and bring it along.  On the bottom of the flyer, there’s a small form that you can scan or mail back to us once Zoodles is set up at your library.  If we get a form back from you, both you and your participating library will get a year of free Premium!

Click here to get your flyer (and entry form)
library promo

We have no idea if this will work, but hey, let’s find out.  If you love Zoodles, maybe your library will too.

July 5, 2010

Kids Triathlon

Filed under: Family Activities — Tags: , , , , , , — Erin @ 6:00 am
Guest Blog by Jon Taylor of 365DayTriathlon.com.

Who’d Have Thought?

swim lineWhen I was young, I often tried my mother’s patience with the common phrase, “I’m bored.” If mom had answered, “Why don’t you train for a triathlon?” I probably would have started digging a tunnel in my room. You may have never heard the words “child” and “triathlon” uttered in the same sentence, but it can actually be a fun summer activity.

What’s a Kids Triathlon Anyway?

triathlon5-600x400If you’re not triathlon-savvy, here’s a quick overview of how they work. The race is split into three parts: swimming, biking, and running (in that order). Before you start imagining your child staggering though a desert, forced to drink cactus juice just to finish, triathlons for kids are actually quite doable. The length of each race is custom fitted to the age group your child is in. It will still take quite a bit of discipline and training, but if you’re looking for bonding experiences, how cool would it be to swim, bike, and run regularly with your son or daughter?girl biking

Studies have shown that child triathletes are very likely to obtain student body office, love broccoli, and surprisingly, help parents win the lottery. That may not be entirely true, but a triathlon will establish a great foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Not only that, but kids will gain self-respect and self-discipline. Triathlons take just as much mental conditioning as they do physical.

I’m In!  What now?

KidsTriathalonPicLGIf you’re interested, find the closest kids tri to you.  You can go to IronKids.com or just google “kids triathlons” in your area.  I live in a pretty rural neighborhood and there are a few within reasonable driving distance from me.

Maybe your child is tired of saying, “I choose you, Pikachu!” Or maybe he just wants to get out of summer reading. Either way, triathlons can be a challenging but rewarding event. You’ll never know unless you tri! (And if you do, you’ll probably find yourself making triathlon puns as I did in the previous sentence. Just a warning.)

Author Byline

triJesse and Jon are two normal guys that have decided to train for a triathlon.  They, along with seasoned marathon runner and triathlete Graham and their coach, a physical trainer named Danah, are blogging about their progress at 365DayTriathlon.com.

July 1, 2010

Inexpensive Ways to Educate Your Kids During the Summer

Filed under: Family Activities,Parenting Tips — Tags: , , — Erin @ 6:00 am

Guest Blog by Eric Rea

Read mini-books. Mini-books are a terrific way to keep kids reading and discovering. You can improve reading skills, learn new things, solidify good social and moral lessons, and even create your own stories.

Geared for specific grade levels, mini-books can enhance and advance your child’s reading and writing skills. They spark creativity without being viewed as “educational”. You can even create games surrounding the stories you read. Best of all it’s an activity you can do together.

Go on nature walks. Grab a book on plants, birds, or history and hit the trails. Make a game of trying to find, identify, and locate all kinds of things. Other than the cost of some gas, and maybe some snacks or a picnic lunch, this trip is completely free.

You can check out books from the library and do some reading for a day or two before you go. Get the kids familiar with what they are to look for. The possibilities are endless – geography, geology, historic site markers, animals, stars, fish, shells, metal detecting, insects, or whatever you and your children can come up with. You might even schedule these outings once a week and look for new things each time you go out.

Educational TV sessions. Schedule educational television sessions for the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, History Channel, Travel Channel, or Planet Green and the like. TV is often a boon of pleasure for kids in the summer. With more time to watch, make sure that they’re going to pick shows that will get the wheels turning.

Scout out shows that one or all of you are interested in, or let each child pick a show with a subject they want to learn about. Throw your interests into the mix, so they can learn about you, too. They can write about what they’ve learned, have a discussion, or take unanswered questions to the internet to find out more.

Go to historic museums and centers. Sure, you have the big and famous museums that are super fun, but you don’t have to restrict your fun learning to these super museums. Tons of small cities have historic museums or locations that give children a glimpse of all kinds of history.

These lesser-known places have tasty tidbits of interesting and unusual historic artifacts, stories, and atmospheres. Plus, they’re usually not nearly as expensive as the big ones, and can take you and the kids to areas you may never otherwise visit.

Don’t forget Zoodles. Keep your child’s academic skills sharp this summer by encouraging them to play fun reading games and math games on the computer. You can teach and reinforce a variety of subjects by visiting our Games Directory and populating the games your child has access to with the type of educational subject matter he or she most needs.

Learning and fun don’t have to be opposites!

Author Byline

Eric Rea

Eric Rea

Eric Rea is a college student who loves the outdoors, blogging, and social media. He is a devoted uncle and his own blog can be found at www.ericrea.com.

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