A new app, Wonderbox, created by the developer Duck Duck Moose, is aiming to provide an educational experience and a family-safe environment for popular web activities like drawing, sharing pictures, and watching videos.
Co-founder Caroline Hu Flexer explains that Wonderbox satisfies intellectual curiosity and connects that knowledge with friends and family:
What do you wonder about? The possibilities are endless. Why do stars twinkle? How fast were dinosaurs? Why are yawns contagious? With Wonderbox, we aim to pique your natural curiosity and encourage you to learn new things. Then we help you share what you’ve discovered with friends and family.
Wonderbox has been released for free on iOS and will be available for Android next. There are no in-app purchases, nor ads. A parent makes an account, and will therefore be able to see what kids are doing and with whom they are sharing these activities.
Flexer said that Wonderbox is meant to encourage kids to start with something they’re interested in and wind up elsewhere, driven by curiosity:
We’re trying to provide a way for kids to explore any topic they’re interested in with their families and friends, and use open-ended creativity tools to express themselves.
It’s a completely free app. We have considered a subscription model, since the content will be updated regularly. But since the core of Wonderbox is communication and being able to share with your friends and family, we wanted to make it as accessible as possible. In the longer term, we will look at premium content, and possibly advertising to parents, although we do not have any plans to advertise to kids.
Six teachers were hired by Wonderbox to curate educational videos from Youtube, writes Stuart Dredge of the Guardian. Kids can watch more than 3,000 age-appropriate videos on subjects like science, geography, languages, sports, and design. New videos are released weekly.
According to the Wonderbox website, kids can participate in 120 creative activities within the app like designing a castle, drawing a frog, adding face paint to a selfie, drawing like Picasso, creating a floor plan, writing a comic, designing a chair, making an environmentally friendly car, making a pattern, creating Earth Day posters, putting together a business plan, and pretending to be a basketball player.
By doing these activities, kids earn virtual coins that they can spend on upgrades to their tools and sticker sets.
Warren Buckleitner of the Children’s Technology Review said that Wonderbox satisfies a desire for more interactivity:
Open ended creativity tools meet high interest videos and web content; in the context of a gated community… once you start… you’ll have a hard time stopping. This app contains a very thoughtfully curated collection.
Duck Duck Moose is working on another edition of Wonderbox designed specifically for use in the classroom. Some of its other apps are already at home there, like Moose Math and Pet Bingo (for a complete list of their apps, visit the Duck Duck Moose website).
Other companies are also exploring safe social apps for kids, like Mind Candy’s PopJam, an Instagram-style app for kids that is in public beta in the UK.