Bottom line: Fun idea to customize common nursery rhymes with your own illustrations and text, but suffers from a confusing interface and needs an overhaul. Use definitely requires adult supervision.
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We spend a lot of time in my household making up our own words to rhymes. In addition to being wonderfully silly fun, it shows that word meanings are truly comprehended and is also a fabulous way for children to learn about rhyming meter through play.
Short Bald and Lanky Productions (I really want to see a picture of the developer behind this name), the creator of Let's Make a Rhyme, has an opportunity to create a niche in the crowded app market with an original concept. The app allows some fun customization of six well-known nursery rhymes - Humpty Dumpty, Three Blind Mice, Little Miss Muffet, Incy Wincy Spider, This Little Piggy and Hey Diddle Diddle.
There are quite a few things to do in this app. For each rhyme children can put in their own text, create a title page from the draw/sticker feature and customize some of the key illustrations to suit their new version. The edited rhymes can then be saved or deleted within the app. Each rhyme also has its own minigame - there is a memory game, a speed test, a spinner when you time just when to cut the tails off the rats (a little macabre, but hey, that's what the nursery rhyme is about), a remember the pattern game with the little piggies, and a couple of jigsaw puzzles. The jigsaws have pieces that need to be turned to be put back in place so they're not aimed at toddlers. This is definitely an app for lower primary/elementary school aged children, although it is rated 4+.
One of the first things that greet you when you open the app is the sound effects, which are poorly rendered. I was very thankful that there is an option to turn them off. There's also an option to turn on/off the page turn arrow. I'm baffled as to why as most kids are going to know to swipe to turn the page. Now, as this app has no verbal instructions whatsoever or narration of the rhymes, it will definitely require adult help. A lot of the time, I (apparently the adult) was at a loss as to what was required.
The navigation in this app is not straightforward as I quite regularly found myself back at the home menu when I wasn't intending to be. Also, I found the meanings of a lot of the picture icons unclear. For example, at the bottom of some of the minigames there are three faces with different expressions. I discovered after some experimentation that these are the difficulty levels. Oddly, the die (singular of dice) is the icon for the game that goes with each rhyme. To me, the logical use of a die is if you wanted to generate something random. I appreciate that the developers are trying to think outside the conventionally used icons, but I found that their function was not immediately apparent and made moving around the app confusing.
The feature where the user can customize the illustrations includes a drawing palette, lots of stickers to scroll through that can be dragged and dropped, rotated and resized, and the option to use photos from the device's camera roll. The import photo option doesn't actually put in the whole photo. Instead, it puts the photo on the character's body so you could put your child's face on the character. It took me a little while to figure this out. This is one of the quirks of this app that could have done with some instructions. There is also no option to completely remove the character and replace it with your own. So if you, for example, decided that in Hey Diddle Diddle a crocodile was going to jump over the moon instead of a cow, you can't actually replace the cow in the illustration.
There are social media, email and website links which take the user away from the app, but these are located on the credits page, rather than the main home page and may not be an issue after actually getting into the gameplay. Curiously, with all these links, there does not appear to be an option to share original rhymes or illustrations. Though there appear to be in-app purchases, there aren't. A 'restore purchases' button remains from before a previous upgrade as does the ability to only reach Humpty Dumpty from the pull down menu. Obviously, this was what was available for free before an update that included all the rhymes. The developer needs to go in and do a bit of a spring clean of these untidy odds and ends left over from previous updates so that the app is current and consistent. It also crashes or freezes occasionally at odd moments.
Altogether, this app would benefit greatly from some vocal narration for the rhymes, some instructions, a few grammar corrections, and also the option to record and share your own customized version. There is enormous potential here - the concept is great and I feel with some refining (okay, a lot of refining) this is an app that could be visited by your children time and time again for fun creative play. However it needs those updates before I can recommend it.
Eleanor Holland is wondering if little Miss Muffet was eating cottage cheese or yogurt. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.