Cupcake Digital Infuses Educational Elements into its Children’s Apps
by Brad Powers, CEO & Founder
Since Apple began taking pre-orders for the first-generation iPad in March of 2010, the landscape of tablets has not only transformed dramatically, but also given birth to a new industry: deluxe storybook apps. Since Cupcake Digital’s inception, the company has been at the forefront of the industry in the development of exciting, high quality apps that meet the demands of: children, parents, caregivers and educators. Our apps have been consistently top-ranked among children’s app ratings on Amazon, iTunes and Common Sense Media. Maintaining a lead in this highly competitive market requires ongoing innovation and a clear focus on exceeding the needs of the market. To that end, we are adding specific learning components to every app we introduce to further enhance the quality of our product offering and, as a result, increase our market share and build brand loyalty. The following positioning paper outlines our rationale in the selection of educational elements based on new, nationwide educational standards and describes how they will be infused into our current and future products.
By collaborating with education consultants and aligning with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Cupcake Digital has taken important steps to enhance the educational value of its product offering. These standards are a set of educational guidelines that are being adopted across the nation to help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful by providing clear goals for student learning at each grade level. Parents, caregivers and teachers can feel confident that our apps help prepare preschool and elementary school children for what will be required of them.
The objective of this position paper is to demonstrate the importance of infusing educational elements into our current and future children’s apps and to show how those elements will be integrated.
It is the first in a series that will provide on-going updates.
A quick look around us – in homes, on the street, in restaurants and on airplanes – demonstrates the vast proliferation of tablets and smart phones. For many young children today, interaction with mobile “apps” will be their first introduction to entertainment and learning.
Parents choose to use apps in different ways and for different purposes: to occupy a child at the dinner table; to read a bedtime story together; to play games that expand their knowledge and advance their fine motor skills; to engage, entertain and just have fun.
At Cupcake Digital, we believe that however apps are used, we can harness this new medium to deliver rewarding experiences on a spectrum of levels for young children.
Cupcake Digital’s Mission
Cupcake Digital stands at the forefront of a new medium: mobile apps for kids. We take this responsibility seriously and will explain our mission and our methodology as a company in this document.
We are first and foremost in the business of kids’ entertainment. Our apps are designed to provide fun and help bring children and caregivers together. As a thoughtful and caring company, we also see an opportunity to deliver not only a fun and entertaining experience to children, but also an enriching and educational one
We think broadly about developing our products with multiple opportunities for learning — providing a playful introduction to the worlds of reading and knowledge, imagination and creativity, early critical thinking and building of mathematics skills.
The power of play is limitless. It is the intention of Cupcake Digital to use it wisely and responsibly for the benefit of young children and their development. While having fun with an app, a child can also become better prepared for success when he or she reaches kindergarten, or greater success if he or she is already in school.
We infuse learning moments into the very fabric of our apps. From the inception of our company, we have engaged educational consultants to work with us on
age-appropriate activities that spark the imagination and foster development of
pre-school/early elementary level basics.
We test our learning propositions and continue to refine and improve them based on the feedback we get. (And, in the case of existing apps, to update and enhance them on an ongoing basis.)
We are a company of parents, and caregivers with a commitment to delivering positive app experiences to our own children. We care deeply about how children interact with our apps and how they benefit from them.
We make a collective effort toward continuous improvement of our products and are investing in Common Core principles to maximize that benefit.
By partnering with professionals in the fields of education and children’s entertainment, as well as developmental experts and specialists in CCSS, we are developing fun activities in each of our apps that prompt educational engagement and help teach skills and build knowledge.
Some examples of Common Core activities involve tracing letters, adding numbers of objects, identifying colors and shapes, learning letter and word sounds, or other age-appropriate learning experiences.
In the process of transcreating existing media properties – such as the Emmy award winning Nick Jr. “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!” animated series – into deluxe story experiences, we will integrate activities that are consistent with CCSS into games and additional sections outside of the narrative.
In the case of apps based on Discovery Network’s Animal Planet, we will infuse each app with Common Core Standards in a way that promises to delight young children.
“A further benefit of these apps, “ says Cristina Kaviani Johnson, M.A., Curriculum Consultant, “is that parents and caregivers will recognize the value of these activities and the various opportunities to tailor them to their own children’s needs and interests.”
Every app includes a “Just the Book” mode that allows caregivers to turn off the digital activities (games, sounds, videos, etc.) and focus a child’s attention purely on the words and story. This mode is particularly effective for a child who is learning to read and allows parents and caregivers to share the simple pleasure of just reading a book together quietly.
At the end of each app, caregivers will also find a section called “Grown-Up’s Corner.” It provides questions and conversation starters related to the story to share with a child to help develop listening and comprehension skills.
A Common Core Corner will review and reinforce skills learned in each app; provide additional activity suggestions to engage in with a child to practice the learning ideas put forth in the app; and lay out each learning zone to help parents understand the various Common Core standards the app is addressing. It will also provide tips on how to prepare a child for his or her first school year(s) and makes getting ready for the new kindergarten standards simple and FUN.
A Vocabulary Builder section accompanies each app to reinforce new words a child has learned.
“Cupcake Digital produces apps that will be infused with a variety of learning experiences from the Common Core Standards curricula, without ever losing sight of our desire to enchant and inspire children along the way,” says Susan Miller, children’s industry veteran and President of Cupcake Digital.
“Our apps give parents a good feeling about how their children are using mobile technology. They combine play with learning to deliver an enriching and entertaining experience parents can tailor to a child’s needs,” states Neil Friedman, Cupcake Digital Board Member, former Mattel Brands’ President, and former President of US Operations for Toys ‘R’ Us.
It is not our intention to “teach” children in all elements of the CCSS, but to lay the groundwork for some of the key building blocks through familiar, beloved entertainment characters, brands and properties.
As we develop new apps, we will continue to seek exciting ways to enhance the experience for children and give them a learning advantage.
While we understand the power of apps to entertain and teach, we are also aware that technology is a tool that needs to be used wisely. Equally important to a child’s development is face-to-face communication. In both the Grown Up’s Corner and the Common Core Corner, our apps suggest fun activities designed to engage children “off-screen” in thoughtful discussions, as well as pencil- or crayon-to-paper skill-building exercises.
Please visit http://www.cupcakedigital.com for future updates.
About Cupcake Digital Inc.
Cupcake Digital, Inc. was established in June 2012 with the intent of transforming children’s entertainment properties into deluxe story experiences infused with educational elements. Its first venture into digital applications was based on the Emmy Award-winning television series “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!” The app immediately rose to # 1 and # 3 among children’s book apps on Amazon and iTunes respectively. Since then, every subsequent children’s storybook app created by Cupcake Digital has achieved a top 10 rating on Amazon. Headquartered in NYC, Cupcake Digital was founded by proven professionals in the fields of technology, family entertainment, publishing and brand marketing. In October of 2012, Cupcake Digital received its first round of private funding and has since gone on to partner with additional major children’s entertainment properties. For more information about Cupcake Digital Inc., please contact Carmen Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cupcakedigital.com.