This little company is all grownz up* (well, almost!)
e are excited to welcome two new members to our creative team!
Queeny: Digital Illustrator & Designer
Queeny is our resident science fiction nerd who is convinced that her acceptance letter to Hogwarts somehow managed to get lost in transit. In her spare time, Queeny likes to take catnaps, discover new music, and go on adventures in her green bug. She often likes to doodle silly animals and is delighted that some have managed to find a great home in Duck Duck Moose mobile applications.
Sally: Digital Animator & Concept Artist
Sally has been drawing and loving it since she was able to pick up a pencil on anything from paper to the walls of her house. She works mostly using charcoal pencil, watercolor, and digital, but is never afraid to venture into other media. Creating illustrations, especially for kids, is Sally’s true passion, and she feels blessed to find a spot at Duck Duck Moose. In her spare time, she enjoys playing guitar and singing off-tune.
*(and growns up and growns up)
Introducing Draw and Tell: a new app by Duck Duck Moose
e have lots of exciting things going on at Duck Duck headquarters lately. First, we are pleased to announce the release of our new creative app Draw and Tell for iPhone and iPad. Draw and tell is our first truly open-ended creative app which allows children of all ages to color, draw, and create works of art and then record their voices while interacting with their drawing.
When creating Draw and Tell we were inspired by our own kids and their boundless creativity. They freely experiment in ways that we seem to lose the ability to do as we grow older. As I look back on the photos of my own daughter taken during the past year, I realize how quickly the time goes. The days are long, but the years are short. I have the feeling that if I blink, she will be 16. Like all parents, I want to freeze time, to gather all the memories I can before she changes again. For me, this is the best part about Draw and Tell — it encourages a child’s uninhibited creativity and records the memory for posterity by capturing the child’s voice. We have had so much fun watching our own children play with this app and we hope that you will too!
Two weeks ago Caroline had the idea to make a product video showing children playing with our app. In typical Duck Duck Moose fashion (after getting over the hurdle of convincing the Moose — turns out he will agree to almost anything for a raisin oatmeal cookie) we jumped in with both feet. Never having done anything like this before, we had the wide-eyed innocence of the truly ignorant (our editor was rendered speechless when I said “what do you mean, a story board?”). However, we quickly found a few key players to help us make it happen. The lovely Monique Miller took the footage and it was edited and beautified during many sleepless nights by Joe Hall. The actors were paid in Annie’s bunny crackers.
View more artwork from Draw and Tell on Flickr
Wheels on the Bus on Android!
At long last, we’ve launched Wheels on the Bus on Android. I know, I know, took us a bit, but we promised and delivered (we are only 4 people after all)! For those Android enthusiasts you can check out Wheels on the Bus on the Android Market
‘Wheels on the Bus’ by Duck Duck Moose is a fun, interactive musical book, based on the popular children’s song. Come aboard the bus to spin the wheels, open and close the doors, swish the wipers, pop some bubbles, make a dog bark, and much more!
Some of the recognition we have been privileged to receive:
- 2010 Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner – Parents’ Choice Foundation
- Winner of “Best Children’s App” KAPi Award – 2010 International CES
- Editor’s Choice Award for Excellence in Design – Children’s Technology Review
- A Top 10 Educational App on the Apple AppStore since January 2009
- Featured in Steve Jobs’ Keynote address announcing the launch of the iPad 2
- Featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, MSNBC, Wired
Check out the Wheels on the Bus app on the Android Market
In addition, we have lots of cool stuff going on at Duck Duck Moose, including the launch of our very first music album (!!!!) Duck Duck Music: Favorite Children’s Songs, more apps coming for Android and two more apps for iOS in production.
Happy Birthday to us (and 50% off Baa Baa Black Sheep)
We just realized it has been two whole years since we started Duck Duck Moose — time sure does fly! When we take stock of all that has happened in the past two years, we can hardly believe it — 6 iPhone apps, 4 iPad apps, 2 years (and a partridge in a pear tree). Our kids have gotten older (and more sophisticated as product managers) and we are about to welcome one new little project manager to the fold, due in March. We are so thankful for all the recognition, feedback and love we have received from fellow app developers and customers. Please keep it coming — we love hearing from you!
To celebrate our 2 year anniversary, we wanted to do something to celebrate (other than eat massive amounts of chocolate cake — mostly to be consumed by the pregnant duck), so we decided to offer Baa Baa Black Sheep at 50% off for a limited time!
This educational puzzle app includes two popular nursery rhymes: Baa Baa Black Sheep and Row Your boat. Explore the island of Baa Baa, where you can row-row your boat, see Baa Baa and his friends, and explore 3 underwater worlds, all while looking for matching puzzle pieces hidden throughout the island!
The best part of this wild ride has been working with children. We are constantly amazed by the little ones and how quickly they learn and discover new things. Check out a little video that we put together of children using our apps.
Caroline, Michael, & Nicci
A Season of Thanks
e at Duck Duck Moose have a lot to be thankful for this year! As Thanksgiving approaches, we want to give a special shout out to those who have supported us…
- The Moms With Apps community of independent parent developers, who support each other in developing quality apps for families. Happy 1 Year Anniversary, and here’s to many more!
- Lorraine Akemann – A fellow Bay Area mom, Co-Founder of Moms with Apps, and app developer herself, who tirelessly supports indie app developers through her posts, networking, and connections.
- Jennifer Evans Beatty who is not only the beautiful voice of Fish School and Baa Baa Black Sheep and our daughter’s preschool teacher at Bing Nursery School, but also an app developer herself of Little Bot
- The Saint Michael Trio for their music, and particularly Danny Cher, for his original arrangements. And yes, it is no coincidence that the cellist has an uncanny resemblance to Duck Duck Moose Co-Founder, Michael Flexer.
- Brennan Pursell and Karen Frankenstein for their amazing singing in Wheels on the Bus, Old MacDonald, and Itsy Bitsy Spider.
- The Dust or Magic Institute and its community for introducing us to the industry and for educating and inspiring us. A post on the 2010 Institute coming soon.
- To fellow kid app developers BabyBinks,Tickle Tap Apps, MomMaps, Picpocket Books, KidCalc, Ten Toed, Fourth Story Media, Motion Math, Launchpad Toys, Pi’ikea Street, Nosy Crow (and many others!) for great apps and conversations.
- All the children, parents, and educators, who have supported us on this journey, have let us test with their kids, sent us feedback, showed us their home videos, and shared wisdom and resources with us.Our own children (ages 2 and 5) who were our original inspiration, are now our product managers at “The Duck Duck Moose,” and are the voices behind many sound effects “Wow!” “Cool!” “Oh no, piggy!” And of course to the Gicclet… Our newest product manager-to-be.
Caroline, Michael & Nicci
Park Math by Duck Duck Moose Wins iLounge Kids’ App of the Year Award
we are honored and thrilled to announce that we won iLounge.com 2010 iPod/iPhone Kids’ App of the Year Award for our app Park Math!
Park Math introduces early math concepts to children in Preschool and Kindergarten (ages 1-6). With 7 fun educational activities, Park Math teaches counting, addition, subtraction, sorting and more as children play with Blue Bear and his friends in a park. The music arranged and recorded especially for this app is performed by cello and guitar. Park Math includes two levels for Preschool and Kindergarten. Level 1 includes counting up to 20 and addition/subtraction with numbers up to 5. Level 2 includes counting up to 50 and addition/subtraction with numbers up to 10. The iPad version, Park Math HD, will be released shortly, and will include a third level for First Grade with counting up to 100 and addition/subtraction with numbers up to 20.
We would like to thank Jeremy Horwitz, Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.com. We are so honored to be selected for this prestigious award!
Three Parents’ Choice Gold Awards for Duck Duck Moose!
Wheels on the Bus, Old MacDonald, and Itsy Bitsy Spider all won Parent’s Choice Gold Awards! Duck Duck Moose was the only publisher to receive three Gold Awards – the top honors given by Parents’ Choice Foundation — in the Mobile Apps category.
For toddlers who are eager to learn, try Old MacDonald, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Wheels on the Bus. The creative team at Duck Duck Moose has created – and delivered – exquisite lessons of cause and effect with a charming and whimsical touch.”
— Parents’ Choice Foundation
Wheels on the Bus
Itsy Bitsy Spider
We are so honored! For years, I’ve seen the Parents’ Choice Awards on children’s toys, books, and music in stores, and I remember trolling their website when looking for ideas for good birthday presents. Parents’ Choice Foundation has been around for decades and is the nation’s oldest non-profit program recognizing quality children’s media.
A Banner Week for Duck Duck Moose Press
have no idea what’s in the water this week, but it has been a banner week for press. We at Duck Duck Moose are over the moon about all the exciting coverage (not your typical week to be sure).
Here are some of the exciting tidbits:
Geek Dad on Wired.com
One of the first blogs to discover our first app Wheels on the Bus, wrote a post on Duck Duck Moose this week.
From an early childhood perspective, they get it right from start to finish… They have what I’d call the ‘Sesame Street Sensibility’ — a real respect and understanding of what will work for young children.
Praise for our newest app:
USA Today gave Baa Baa Black Sheep, a 4 out of 4 star rating in an article on apps for traveling kids.
Baa Baa Black Sheep also received an Editor’s Choice Award from Children’s Technology Review.
The iPhone Mom gave Baa Baa Black Sheep a wonderful review, calling it a “winningly interactive app.”
iLounge also reviewed Baa Baa Black Sheep, calling it a “top pick of the week” and noting that “Baa Baa Black Sheep’s ability to completely enrapture kids is… impressive.”
The San Francisco Chronicle
interviewed us and featured Duck Duck Moose in an article on how “iPhone moms turn ideas into kid-friendly apps”
Our apps were also featured in several Top Lists.
All Duck Duck Moose apps were ranked the #1 Stories and Songs Apps in Babble.com’s Top 50 iPhone Apps for Kids.
We are so grateful for all the attention! Whatever is in the water this week, we hope it sticks around for a while.
Introducing an old favorite: Wheels on the Bus now in HD for the iPad
We recently updated all the graphics in Wheels on the Bus for use on the iPad. Check out Wheels on the Bus HD for iPad on the iTunes App Store.
Dust or Magic Conference Highlights
spent two fantastic days at the Dust or Magic AppCamp in Asilomar. I talked about “How We Turned a Nursery Rhyme into a Best Selling App” (check out our 2009 presentation), and spent two enlightening days with some of the best and brightest in children’s interactive media – child development experts, educators, other app developers, reviewers, writers, and some of the legendary veterans in children’s software. We spent time reviewing dozens of apps, brainstorming new concepts, and talking to kids who came to participate.
- Ann McCormick’s story about founding the Learning Company: “Apple gave me a computer and $1000 in 1979, and that’s how we started the Learning Company. The best work was done early when we had three or four people and were very light on our feet.” In reference to the iPad, she said, “It’s the computer we’ve been waiting for since the 70’s… Finally we can do what’s needed for kids.”
- A Panel of Legends from the children’s software industry, including Mark Schlichting who told his story about starting the Living Books series at Broderbund. He talked about how he created “shared vision within the company… As I was building my first prototype, I needed voices and sound effects. I had everybody be a voice. My boss was a barking dog…” He also mentioned how now with the new app market, there is the “opportunity for a garage band to happen again.”
- Warren Buckleitner’s Child Development 101 for Software Designers
- Darren Carstens’ talk on “How I Made an iPhone App” and how he learned about the iPhone SDK from YouTube videos created by 12 year old kids!
- Mandeep Dhillon’s (CEO of Togetherville) presentation on the Economics of the AppStore. He talked about how distribution changes the game. With the AppStore, developers can sell directly to consumers. He mentioned “the rise of the little guy” and how little startups (like us!) can compete with large companies.
- Tips on how to get PR for apps by Robin Raskin, former editor of PC Magazine and Founder of Living in Digital Times, and Reyne Rice, Trends Specialist for the Toy Industry Association – including how to talk to editors, send press releases, enter awards, and use social networks.
And of course, AppCamp had a bonfire by the beach, complete with S’mores! We had aspirations to create an AppSymphony but perhaps that will have to wait until next year…
Duck Duck Moose Photo Shoot
am trying to get my blog mojo back after a little bit of a hiatus. I have lots of good things to write about this month — Caroline attended the annual Dust or Magic Conference co-hosted by Warren Buckleitner of Children’s Technology Review where we presented our new app Fish School (for iPhone) and Fish School HD (for iPad). I went to the Decorator Showcase in San Francisco and have lots of great ideas to share for children’s nurseries (including a rocking chair that I can’t stop thinking about).
I took an early morning trip on Saturday down to Palo Alto to meet up with Caroline and Michael (and our little product managers) for our first DDM photo shoot.
A recent interview really got me thinking about how fortunate we are to have such a great team with diverse skill sets and a similar level of commitment to quality.
It is particularly wonderful for me, because as my friends and my husband know, my attention to detail can be maddening (for every one else, that is). Luckily, the other Duck and Moose are detail-oriented and even if they think I am a freak sometimes, they are very, very quiet about it. :)
I have always believed that it is all the little things that add up to good design. In order to make good work, it is important to have a creative atmosphere and that goes for your environment, as well as your team culture. Here at Duck Duck Moose, we have a very collaborative, open-ended design process in which the three of us all contribute throughout. Our process is very back-and-forth which is the secret sauce to coming up with good ideas. It goes a little something like this: Observe children. Brainstorm. Prototype. Build. Test with children. Learn. Refine. Repeat all steps again. And again. And again.
Typically we have far more ideas that we can ever follow through on and our biggest challenge is often deciding which idea we are the most excited about. In the end I figure, that’s a good problem to have!
Itsy Bitsy Spider iPhone App Breaks the Top 50 in the App Store!
We at Duck Duck Moose had much to celebrate this weekend — not only did Duck Duck Moose turn 1 year old this week, but our newest app, Itsy Bitsy Spider, broke into the top 50 paid apps in the App Store! When we started Duck Duck Moose a year ago, we never could have imagined that we would have three apps in the top 300 of all paid apps. It is times like these that make me want to quote one of the greatest cult classics of all time — “our little baby is all growns up, and grows up and grows up!”
Itsy bitsy Spider on the AppStore:
Old MacDonald on the AppStore:
Wheels on the Bus on the AppStore:
Vote for Duck Duck Moose for the iPhone Developer of the Year Award!
K, I have to admit that this is a bit of a shameless plug, but we are kind of over the moon excited about being nominated for the iPod/iPhone Developer of the Year Award! (!!!!) If you have enjoyed our iPhone apps, please consider voting for us online (click the button below to vote). It takes less than a few seconds and will bring you loads of good karma!
When we started our little company over a year ago we began with nothing more than a strong desire to create quality products and a keen excitement to work with each other. In the past year we have learned a lot, our ambition has grown as has our dedication to developing high quality and engaging products. The most rewarding aspect of our our work at Duck Duck Moose has been working with children.
Thanks to all those who have helped us along the way and to the parents and educators who have contacted us with feedback and praise. Keep it coming, we love to hear from you!
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Duck Duck Moose launches a new iPhone app for kids: Itsy Bitsy Spider
We have had a lot going on at Duck Duck Moose in the past two months. C and M’s older daughter recently turned 4 years old (how fast time goes) — Happy birthday Elizabeth! Michael has been burning the candle at both ends by juggling his job at a start-up, concerts with his trio and a full time job at Duck Duck Moose. Caroline has been handling a full schedule with her usual grace — raising two little ones by day and working on DDM at night (sometimes until 2-3am) and I have been freelancing and illustrating combined with a 6 week trip to India (you wouldn’t believe the scarcity of working wifi!). Amid all this craziness (and with little sleep) we somehow managed to create Itsy Bitsy Spider — a new musical iPhone app for kids.
Itsy is a bit different than our other two apps. The illustration style has more depth — the artwork was drawn in Illustrator and all of the gradients, textures and shadows were added manually in Photoshop. In addition, Itsy functions more like an interactive movie of sorts with panning from screen to screen that is initiated by touching the star character — the spider, all to the tune of the popular children’s classic.
Everything on the screen is interactive. We added many new elements to engage little ones in a variety of learning activities:
– Count from 1 to 10 as a squirrel builds his house
– Find hidden eggs on a scavenger hunt
– Make music with musical eggs that play 12 notes
– Stack hats on the spider’s head
– Listen to classical music with violin and cello
– Record your own singing!
For more screen captures and information on our new app, please visit our website: duckduckmoosedesign.com
If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, please try it out and let us know what you think. We have gotten so much great feedback (and creative ideas) from our customers!