Carnival of Animals Entertains with Storytelling and Music Activities for Children

While not every junior aspire for a career in music, experts agree that every junior can all benefit from learning music. Researches show that studying music contributes to better academic performance and social development, as well as one’s musicality and sense of art.

With all these benefits in mind, there are many apps on the App Store that can help parents introduce music to their young juniors. One example is Carnival of Animals by developers Toothy Buddies. Based on French composer Camille Saint-Saëns’s humorous musical suite of the same name, this unique app uses storytelling to introduce musical concepts like duration, rhythm, and pitch.

Carnival of Animals is a unique storybook/musical app hybrid that explains musical concepts in a more visual way

Carnival of Animals

If you’re wondering about the musical suite that the app was named after, Carnival of Animals is a 14-piece musical suite that is based on the characteristics of different animals. It was originally written for Saint-Saëns’s students, and its purpose was to help children get a feel of different elements of music.

Carnival of Animals (the app) takes this delightful musical suite, and adapts it into a interactive book consisting of four animal-based stories. In pull-tab style, readers can animate the characters on screen. They can also pull out fact sheets about the starring animals out of little “pockets” on every page. At the end of each story, they can listen or play a game set to Saint-Saëns’s original piece that inspired that story.

The first story, Kangaroos, is based on the sixth movement, and focuses on time value. The starring characters are a troop of kangaroos on a sports day. Readers also help Aunty Kangaroo find her joey at the end of the story by touching the joey’s footprints according to quick, short beats (staccato), and pulling the grass under her feet as she takes some time to look around (legato).

The second story, Lions, follows a silly lion cub and his pride. It focuses on rhythm and pitch. After following the cub play around his den, readers help him wake his father by rapidly tapping on the lion’s sleep bubble, brushing his mane quickly, touching his footprints according to rhythm, and pull the patterns of his roar according to its pitch.

Watch trailer video for Carnival of Animals on YouTube

Parents Need to Know

While it is marketed as a musical app, I think Carnival of Animals also falls perfectly into the interactive book category. While most part of it is narrated, good reading skills are required to fully explore the app’s contents. I believe that it is the developer’s intentions to have parents sit together with their juniors as they use the app. This way, parents can explain terms and concepts that juniors may not be familiar with.

If you have little knowledge about music, do not worry. The app explain musical concepts as simple as possible in layman terms, so they are not difficult to follow. The app also includes a comprehensive guide at the beginning, which explains the app’s purpose and the learning objectives in each story.

Carnival of Animals is available as several apps. Our review copy is Carnival of Animals, which contains two full stories: Kangaroos and Lions. The third story, Elephants, is available as a separate app. The final story, Aquarium, is not yet available.

Finally, one thing to watch out for is ads that link to the developer’s other apps. This is located at the story selection page and at the end of the app.

Pull out fact sheets to learn more about animals

Things I Like

As music is abstract, explaining a piece of music or a musical concept to young juniors can be difficult. This is why Carnival of Animals is unique: rather than describing musical concepts in complicated terms, it uses a clever combination of interactive storytelling and games. The stories are good enough on their own that I almost forgot that this was a musical app until the games rolled in!

Overall, I really like the app’s presentation. The pull-tab style illustrations are lovely. The “pocketful” of facts are a nice touch, and I enjoy reading about interesting facts like how fast a kangaroo can bounce (40 km/hour) and what a baby kangaroo is called (a joey).

The musical games are also fun to play, although I do think some parts are a bit difficult for young kids, such as tapping in rapid succession to follow the staccato in the Kangaroo game. That said, I do feel comfortable that the app doesn’t punish the player even if he is not able to follow the beat precisely.

Play along in a musical game set to the music piece that inspired the story


With music being a universal language that both young and old can enjoy, it is never too early to introduce your juniors to music. Carnival of Animals makes learning about the basic foundations in music fun, and also provides kids with a handful of interesting facts to discover about their favorite animals. Overall, it’s a well-made, entertaining app that I would recommend if you’re looking for some music apps for your juniors.

Carnival of Animals is available for iPad.
Get it on the App Store: iPad

App was provided for our honest review.