The Curious Critter’s Club – A Trio of Apps about Environmental Awareness

The Curious Critters Club began in New Zealand to impart the love of science and the discovery and care of all life. They currently have 2 storybook apps and an AR (augmented reality) app available. These apps are free and created by YooZoo Limited and La boîte à pitons. The apps encourage exploration of a child’s immediate surroundings and reinforce the care of all creatures. By learning about the life and needs of others, children begin slowly to learn the ability to take another’s perspective. And once that seed of compassion is planted, it continues to blossom and arise.

Inside Call of the GIANT EAGLE

Call of the GIANT EAGLE written by Julian Stokoe and Illustrated by Steve Wilson is part of the Curious Critters Club Collection by YooZoo. In this interactive storybook, we get an introduction to the Curious Critters Club by accompanying Niko, Poppy, and the story’s narrator – Alex on an adventure to find the Giant Eagle or “Te Hokioi” in the kauri forests. Te Hokioi is a Maori word for giant eagle and it was thought to be purely mythological until large bones were uncovered supporting their possible existence. At first, the trio was a little scared but soon found their natural curiosity propelling them forward on their mission. They found a band of environmental exploiters ravaging the forest after climbing a great tree to look out as to what might have been causing loss to the ecosystem. They spotted the notorious evil-doer Chupps and his band of rats who were destroying the forest to build a luxury castle and didn’t seem to care about the giant eagle’s habitat.

Suddenly, the cry of Te Hokioi is heard. The rats flee, but Chupps persists with Alex hanging in the balance of the old tree. Oh no, he falls! What happens? Is Alex safe? Did he find the Te Hokioi?

Inside The Mystery of Caddy

The Curious Critters Club in Canada seeks to find out about The Mystery of Caddy. It is written by Alain Bergeron and illustrated by Steve Wilson and brought to app form by YooZoo. Friends Elliot and Emma explore their environs to find Caddy, a most strange and mysterious creature that hides in the waters of Cadboro Bay. The Caddy or Cadborosaurus is an animal with the body of a sea serpent and the head of a horse. He hasn’t really been spotted yet, but that doesn’t stop this pair from their mission of discovering new species or verifying creatures from myth and legend.

And so, their journey begins from a recent newspaper report of a possible sighting of the Cadborosaurus. Out on the Bay by the edge of the woods, they encounter tracks…and NOT from Caddy, but a mother BEAR and her cubs. And she is an ANGRY MOTHER BEAR – OH NO!!! They are trapped until…A powerful shadow behind scares the bear away. Was it Caddy? All they spot at sea is the boat of the greedy Captain Grouper making off with Caddy in his net. Can they save their new-found hero from his clutches? Download this delightful story now to find out, and maybe you and your friends can form your own Curious Critters Club right in your own home!

The Curious Critters Club – Discovery App

The Curious Critters Club Discovery App is an AR app that uses markers to trigger an AR experience. Watch the historic creatures come to life with a simple targeting of an iPad®. This app has your child’s safety in mind as kids are NOT set loose outdoors to wander about without regard to environmental obstacles. The markers are available for download on the developer’s website. At Easterseals we printed out the markers, then mounted them on construction paper. They were laminated to protect them from sticky fingers and spills. The AR markers can be used indoors on a rainy day or used as part of a play experience during the study of endangered species. By placing them in strategic places, kids learn to visually scan and move in all planes. The markers can also be placed at wheelchair height, making this a fun app for all. The Friendship Academy, an inclusive preschool classroom, explored the storybook apps on the big screen to get an idea of how to use a camera for eco-photoshoots and how we could make a difference by preserving species of the land and the sea for future generations. We then set about our own mission to find evidence of Curious Critters. Using the Curious Critters Club – Discovery AR app, we looked for evidence of their whereabouts. We looked up and down, right and left, and in unexpected places. Did we find Critters? Well yes, we did!!! The kids had a blast, and it was such a joy to see their enthusiasm and their curiosity come to life.

In Summary

These are great apps to begin discussions concerning endangered species, respect for all creatures, and what it means to be extinct. In addition, it teaches visual scanning (to locate the triggers), sustained targeting, and bi-manual skills (to hold the iPad and use the camera). It can be used with kids of all abilities, given adaptations, and most importantly…all kids were moving! By engaging the whole child, mind, and body, it facilitates coordinating their systems and helps make learning stick. We ran the app, on old iPad 2® and an iPad Air®. The app worked well, although we needed to clear all opened programs and restart the app occasionally to access more memory for camera use. This was not a big deal as the app reopened on these old iPads® quickly and I was amazed at the care and consideration the developers had to make the app work on older systems.



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