Peg + Cat Big Gig Teaches Preschool Math Through Music

PBS Kids is one of the biggest TV channel for children’s programming in the United States. They have plenty of huge hits that are still airing today, such as Sesame Street (since 1969) and Thomas & Friends (since 2004). They are also entering the market of iPad apps by developing apps for their favorite shows, such as Bill Nye the Science Guy, Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train, and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.

A couple of days ago, as a part of the PBS Kids brand revamp, a new TV series, Peg + Cat, was released. The new series, created by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson, aims to tackle preschool math theme. Starring a fun-spirited young girl named Peg and her best friend Cat, it takes kids through different worlds and times.

Pick a character to play in Peg + Cat’s Big Gig

The Big Gig App

On the same day as the series’ TV series premiere, PBS Kids also released the first Peg + Cat iPad app, Peg + Cat Big Gig. This app lets preschoolers practice their math skills by learning and creating songs. It is as simple as selecting a character along with the musical instrument that she plays, and following the instructions to play the song.

In total, you can play with up to five characters. There is Peg, the series’ main character, with her ukulele. The other four characters are Ramone on the accordion, Pig on his guitar, Tessa on the trombone, and Richard on the keyboard. Cat doesn’t play any instrument; apparently, his dream is to be a dancer.

After you select the Big Gig menu, you can choose a character/musical instrument combo to play with. Then, you will be redirected to a song selection screen. I’d suggest starting with the Warm-ups first as the songs are much simpler to play compared to the eight songs that are taken from the TV series.

Once you have selected a song to play, you will hear Cat instructing you on what to do. On the bottom bar of the screen, you will see your selected character playing her musical instrument. Next to the character, you will see a set of colorful notes marked from 1 to 8. These notes represent an octave, and you tap them to play the song based on the instructions on the notes sheet.

The notes sheet shows a sequence of notes that you need to follow. On the Warm-up songs, you can practice and see how the game is played. On the more complex songs, you have to play several sequences of notes that are longer and more complex. Upon completion of all the sequences, you get to watch a music video where Peg and her friends play the song as a band.

The music video also includes running text, so you can sing along. In the background, you may notice that Peg and her friends may be playing on different worlds: the farm, Pirate Island, Magic Forest, and even Purple Planet.

The app secretly teaches kids to count through a musical game

Parents Need to Know

In addition to the Big Gig app, PBS Kids also released a set of online games and open-ended activities on their website. You can even download printables for assembling a flip book or creating your own Peg + Cat board game.

If you want to learn more about the TV series, you can buy a season pass or watch the first two episodes on iTunes for free. Both the TV series and the iPad app are designed for juniors ages 3-5.

If you want to learn more about what inspired Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson to create the series, I’d suggest watching the following interview video:

Watch the interview video on YouTube

Things I Like

In its warm-up songs, the Big Gig app secretly tries to teach preschoolers how to count up and down by ones and twos. Two warm-up songs also teach them the basics of adding by one, recognizing and extending numerical patterns in a song. Many of the more complex songs also feature math practices. Here’s a sample lyric from the 10, 20, 30, 40 song:

Ten, twenty, thirty, forty,
Fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty,
Ninety! One-hundred! Wahoo!
Counting by tens, you can do any job
That you need to do
Counting by tens, you can get really high
Get there so fast too!
Ten, twenty, thirty, forty,
Fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty,
Ninety! One-hundred! A shooba-dee-doo!
I said ninety! I said one-hundred! Wahoo!

Based on my experience with both my sons, preschoolers really love singing along to a song that revolves around letters and numbers. I believe Peg + Cat will be a popular TV series among preschoolers as it inspires them to think of math and problem solving as exciting, accessible, and fun.

The app also has a second playing mode, called Sound Check. In this activity, you can explore various musical instruments, song loops, and characters to create your own music. You can also record your mix, and play back the song you just created. My four-year-old Philip, who loves to play the Smart Drums on GarageBand, really enjoys playing with the Sound Check mode.

You can play the included songs or create your own


Peg + Cat Big Gig is a fun musical app that lets preschoolers practice their basic math skills by playing and singing along to fun songs. It’s a great companion app if your juniors are starting (or planning) to watch the new series. But even if they aren’t, it is still a fun app that lets them enjoy playing songs or creating their own.

Peg + Cat Big Gig is available for iPad
Get it on the App Store: iPad

App was provided for our honest review.