Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Disclosure: I was sent a sample of the wall art to review from the vendor.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.


·      In the first year of life, children gobble up words at an incredible rate, learning 2-4 words a day in their second year of life and 4-5 a day by the time they reach their 5th birthday? 

·      By 6 years of age, children in the U.S. have learned at least 10,000 words on average.

·      And, by adulthood, we have learned a vocabulary of anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 words, by conservative estimates.

"Yuuko Uchikoshi, Ed.D. Associate Professor, School of Education at the University of California at Davis, expands on the importance of vocabulary, “Children who are exposed to and addressed lots of language in their environment have much larger vocabularies than children who are exposed to fewer words, and vocabulary size is correlated not only with language abilities later in life, but also with important academic outcomes.”

Learning while having fun is a top priority at The Jim Henson Company, and as the digital space has developed to be a highly powerful tool for preschool learning in the last several years, they teamed up with a language specialist as well as award-winning app developer Mindshapes, to create and launch a new app that provides opportunities for the youngest kids (24  to 42 months old) to master specific language goals while caring for their new friends in Jim Henson’s Chatter Zoo

Available now in iTunes, Jim Henson’s Chatter Zoo was created by Alex Rockwell (Pajanimals, Bear in the Big Blue House) and centers on four adorable zoo babies --FRANNY the baby cheetah, BAILEY the baby elephant, PIP the baby wallaby, and LULU the baby panda.    The big idea of Chatter Zoo is that young kids at home, who are just a little bit older than our adorable baby animals, get to ‘take care of’ and ‘teach’ these characters the very skills that they themselves are in the final stages of mastering using interactive play.   This offers them a sense of pride and accomplishment while simultaneously reinforcing the skills they are modeling. Behind all of this interaction is a curriculum that supports vocabulary acquisition and early language building. The zoo babies need the users help to learn lots of skills, but in order to do this, they must first master the most important skill of all -- how to talk!

Ms. Uchikoshi, language specialist for the new app further explains. “Chatter Zoo teaches and reinforces language acquisition by transforming screen time from a passive activity into an active learning experience through engagement and interaction and—utilizing techniques drawn directly from a growing science on child development and language learning—incorporates three important factors that facilitate the learning of new words and concepts: frequency of exposure, comparing and contrasting, and routine and rehearsal.”


iPhone Screenshot 1

The Chatter Zoo ‘appisode’ includes two “Learn & Play” activities and two interactive stories, animation and music content immersing children into a kid-friendly, entertaining, and intriguing day in Chatter Zoo.   Together with the zoo babies, children will experience meal time where they help to feed the zoo babies their favorite food; play time; bath time fun after a busy day of playing; and bed time.   

iPhone Screenshot 2

Each part of the app focuses on a few key words. In every story, the characters use the key words, and then repeat them in a simple song form at the end. The learn-and-play activities allow the child to interact with objects and learn their names while playing with the babies.

The zoo babies have a very joyful relationship with the audience at home. Through “Direct Address” they communicate with the user in order to play with them and to learn from them.  The babies also think the user is their best, best friend.  And Mindshapes’ custom Livebook™ format allows children to interact with and bring them closer to the characters through a variety of touchscreen interactions. The characters in Chatter Zoo are not only adorable, they also have a unique relationship with their young audience – they need them!"


My Thoughts:

It has been a while since I have downloaded an app for the girls that is not only entertaining, but that is educational and can be enjoyed by both my 21 month old daughter, Arabella and Savannah, who just turned 3.  Usually, the preschool apps are too advanced for Arabella, while apps geared towards babies/toddlers are just too babyish for Arabella.  I still can't believe how quickly Arabella is progressing.  She started walking at 9 month and started talking at 11 months.  And, now, at 21 months, she is stringing 3-4 word sentences together, and repeats everything we say.  Scary, as we waited so patiently for Savannah to start walking and talking, and just wish Arabella would slow down and enjoy these precious toddler months.  But, she is determined to catch up to Savannah, and do everything her big sister does.  And, one of those things is playing with Daddy's iPad.  Savannah has become a pro at navigating through the different game and video apps, and now she is slowly teaching Arabella how to use the iPad.  

iPhone Screenshot 5

Chatter Zoo, the new app from The Jim Henson Company and Mindshapes has become the go-to apps for both of them. And, it seems to be the only app that they don't find over.  Instead, they will sit together on the couch and take turns feeding the cute cuddly animals, giving them bath, or repeating new words they learn through the stories and activities of this new appisode.  The graphics alone will draw little ones in, as the animals look so life-like.  When I asked Savannah if she had a favorite of the four Chatter Zoo characters, she shouted out Bailey, while also letting me know that Arabella's favorite was Lulu. :-) 

In addition to trying out this new app for preschoolers, the kind folks at The Jim Henson Company also sent along a sample of their new Jim Henson Chatter Zoo Wall Art.  As soon as Savannah saw me unrolling the wall sticker sheet from the tube it was shipped in, she ran over and started pointing out the different characters, telling me their names, and how she recently interacted with this in this fun new app -- which if you ask her, she will say is her favorite! :-)   I ended up sticking the cute Chatter Zoo wall stickers around a quote on the playroom wall, that is from my favorite book, The Little Prince."  Now, whenever I walk into the room, my eyes are drawn to my favorite saying from this classic, and I can enjoy the quote and these four baby animals.  The girls are loving the fun wall art, and have fun pointing out the different characters to family and friends who come to visit.  

I can't wait to download more appisodes from Jim Henson's Chatter Zoom, as well as buy more wall art to decorate the girls' rooms with.  But, in the meantime, we are loving this fun new app, and admiring the wall art, as we wait for more Chatter Zoo fun!  If you have toddlers/preschoolers who love playing apps on your iPad and/or iPhone, you will want to check out Jim Henson's Chatter Zoo app today.

iPhone Screenshot 4

Click here to visit the iTunes app store to download Jim Henson's Chatter Zoo now for only $1.99  -- https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/jim-hensons-chatter-zoo/id663338347?mt=8.

Don't forget to follow The Jim Henson Company, along with Mindshapes, to stay up-to-date on new apps, news and more --

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Want to win the same fun Jim Henson Chatter Zoo wall art I was sent to review.  Thanks to the folks at The Jim Henson Company, one lucky reader will win this wall art, which is valued at around $20, to put up in their child's bedroom, playroom, or other room in the house. The wall art is 12” x 12,” and features 16 useable graphics of the Chatter Zoo baby animals.  To enter, please complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!

Disclosure: I was sent a sample of the wall art to review from the vendor.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

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