Bottom line: Fun app for toddlers and preschoolers and the first three songs are free for a limited time. The rest are in-apps, however, leading up to a potential $10 in purchases. One song also needs to be replaced and there are typos.
CookieCoo Dancing Star is a great app for entertaining younger children and, as they get more confident, turns into an engaging and interactive activity that helps develop their sense of rhythm.
The menu screen looks a little like a jukebox with one album of five discs to choose from. A second album with another five discs is ‘coming soon’ – the second album’s discs and songs are shown but are not yet available. The purchase of the app for 99 cents gives the child access to three songs on one disc. (Please note, the base app is free for a limited time as of this posting.) Each disc has a theme and the three songs chosen are in keeping with that theme.
The Body disc is included with the purchase of the app and the songs on it are the Hokey Pokey, Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, and This is the Way We Wash our Face. Once the child selects a song they have to make choices in three categories:
- Game play – either watch or play the game on easy, normal or hard settings
- Instrument – choose between a set of three drums, cymbals or tambourines
- Performer – choose one of seven different cookie-based characters.
If the child chooses the ‘watch’ option then the character they have chosen sings and dances along to the song. If they want to play the game three copies of their chosen instrument are placed at the bottom of the screen. Once the music starts, notes fall onto one of the three instruments and the child needs to tap the correct instrument at the exact right time. If they are successful then ‘perfect’ pops up, if the tap is on the beat they will see ‘good’ but if they tap too late then they will see ‘bad’. In the easy setting only one instrument is played but the normal and hard settings use all three and the notes fall in quicker succession. The games are scored and the app keeps track of the highest score.
I’ve only managed to interest Oliver in watching the songs so far but he is really enjoying that – he and I sing the song and dance to the music while we watch the cookie character do the same on screen. It’s a great way for him to learn the songs and for us to enjoy interactive play together. The music sounds good, the graphics are bright, warm and colorful and the cookie characters are really quite cute.
This app is very engaging and for the kids who enjoy it there is the potential for lots of replay value given the levels of difficulty in game play plus, since the games are scored and high scores save, even if the child masters the hardest level they can then carry on playing to see if they can beat their own highest score.
There are, however, a few stumbling blocks preventing this app from receiving a higher rating:
- Perhaps I’m just sensitive about my own shocking lack of rhythm but seeing the word ‘bad’ pop up every time I missed a beat was a little disheartening and is inappropriate for an app for younger kids. Perhaps something less pejorative could be used like ‘Ooops.’
- On the Feeling disc (coming soon) one of the songs is “If You’re Happy and You Konw (sic) It” - fix the typo please!
- On the Number disc, one of the songs is “Ten Littel (sic) Indians” – rather than just correct the typo the developer should either replace this with a different song or re-record the song as Ten Little Teddy Bears. I purchased the disc and watched the song and when Indians are mentioned a graphic pops up showing a man in a feathered headdress. There’s no place for racial/ethnic stereotypes in any app but it’s particularly disconcerting to see them in an app for small children. (Columbus wasn't in Asia!)
- I would love to see a demonstration of the instruments being played in the ‘watch’ setting which would display for the child how to play the game. Currently, when game play starts, there are no instructions given so the child has to work out that they are only supposed to play the instrument when a note drops on it and what the correct timing is.
- Once a song has finished there are two options – replay or go all the way back to the home menu and choose a new song. It would be great to have the option to change the difficulty, instrument or character options and replay the same song.
- With respect to in-app purchases I prefer free lite versions of apps. In CookieCoo DancingStar, if the child really enjoys the app and wants to try all the other songs then the current total cost to the parent or teacher would be $4.95. Once another album is added to the app then, assuming the pricing stays consistent, the total cost of the full app will be $9.90. This is very expensive as far as apps go and I would prefer that the developer offer a substantially lower price for in-app purchases in bulk or just one app with everything already unlocked.
I can't recommend the app until some of these issues are addressed.
If you would like to purchase CookieCoo Dancing Star please support smartappsforkids.com by using the links provided. Thanks for your support!
This review was written by Deanne Shoyer who prefers to dunk rather than dance with her cookies.