Little Miss Muffet is an app for kids aged 2-5, designed for interaction and learning within the context of the eponymous nursery rhyme. There are four screens, one for each stanza of the rhyme, along with one additional screen where the entire song is played.
When opening the app, don't look around for the home screen as there isn't one. This is not something I'd seen before so I closed and re-opened the app and even tried a hard reset of the iPad. What I subsequently learned is that the developer, Tantrum Solutions, deliberately did not include a home screen because they wanted to keep the interface simple given the young age of the targeted users. There is one menu for parents-get there by tapping the very small info "i" in the bottom left corner of the screen.
After tapping this info button, the parent or teacher must then quickly trace a circle in the direction of an arrow. This is a very creative way to keep the app safer for young children. Once in this area, the first screen contains information about what to do in the app, along with the focus of each scene. The second page links directly to several other Tantrum Solutions apps in the app store, as well as the developer's website. The third page provides the options - at this time there is only one: to turn on the use of phonetic letter sounds in a mini game.
There are some cute interactive moments in this app. The picture is similar on each stanza's screen, but there are different themes and some different actions in each. The first scene's focus is on words and spelling. The apples fall off of the tree, revealing the letters needed to spell the word "apples." As the child drags the apples back to the tree, the app says each letter's name or sound, depending on the setting chosen.
Unfortunately, apple is the only word that is spelled on this screen. Other pictures are named (but not visually labelled) with a little animation when touched:The flower spins, the sheep shakes its head, and the bird flies in a circle. The picture has constant movement on it as well - for example, even when the cow is not tapped, she is flicking her tail and eating grass.
In the second scene, accessed via the forward arrow at the top of the screen, the focus moves to colors and sounds. Instead of dropping off the tree, this time the apples are verbally labeled as "red apple" when tapped. Other objects are similarly identified by color, including "orange butterfly" and "brown basket." Most of the pictures not named with a color make some kind of sound, like the cow who moos, the horse who neighs and the little snail who zooms across the bottom of the screen with a pretend-car zoom sound. Most of the objects make the same movement as before, just with different sounds.
The focus for scene three is numbers and counting. Many of the objects in duplicate are counted out when tapped, using both auditory and visual numbers. All 10 flowers spin, as they do in all of the other scenes, but this time they are counted out as well. Also counted are pears, apples, a basket, sheep and butterflies. My favorite is the little spider, who drops down to sit by Miss Muffet. When touched, he appears magnified (with a magnifying glass!) and his legs can be tapped to count them.
The final scene features Miss Muffet running away and the little spider taking over her tuffet. When the now-empty bowl is tapped, more curds and whey are added. The spider then jumps down and eats, complete with a burp at the end, before resuming his new throne.
There is not a specific theme for the interaction on scene four. There are, however, two additional songs that are sung when objects are selected: "Baa Baa Black Sheep" when the black sheep is tapped, and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," which requires a series of steps: First, the sun is tapped to bring up the night sky, and then the biggest star is touched for the song.
Some of the interactions require perseverance and exploration. When the small cloud in the sky is tapped, a red outline of the cloud flashes in the lower part of the sky. If the child drags the little cloud down to that outline, an umbrella and a top hat appear for the spider, who sings a song while the cloud rains on him. Similarly, when a bowl is placed under the cow, she squirts milk into it. There are several other cute animations but I didn't find them on my own-it wasn't until reading the info screen that I learned about some of these.
The final scene presents the whole song in one. It cannot be interrupted with any interaction-the flowers don't spin until the song is done. When the song is finished the interaction is the same as in the previous scene.
For use in therapy or for a young child working to develop more expressive vocabulary, there are certainly plenty of objects to name including food, nature and animals. There are several different actions demonstrated including when Miss Muffet is tapped in the first and second scenes. The music is likely reinforcing for many children and the actions in the additional songs are also cute with plenty of use in language therapy (including the little boy down the lane who comes out of his house to retrieve his wool from the black sheep!)
What does happen in this app is cute and interactive. However, one word spelled with five different letters isn't much in terms of teaching spelling. Small objects named with their color isn't much of a focus on colors. At least the counting does include a numeral, which makes it a step up from the others in terms of educational value.
If your toddler or preschooler really likes nursery rhymes this will probably entertain them for a while but the educational aspects could be improved upon and the app doesn't provide much interaction for the experienced app-using preschooler. If it sounds fun then it might be worth a download-it's certainly cute! Just be aware that there isn't as much depth as many other educational toddler and preschool apps which sell for the same price (or less).
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