Messy Mia and the Tale of Ancient Tech App Review
Price: Free In-App Purchases
Messy Mia and her robot guide, Zed, explore the changes to technology over the past few decades in this colorful, interactive ebook. The app also includes some review games and questions for young readers to ponder as they learn about technology.
- 20 interactive pages in the story
- 4 interactive games to extend the fun
- 11 thought-provoking questions that promote expression and reasoning
- Realistic sound effects that create a multi-media experience
- Optional English or Spanish narration and text
Messy Mia and the Tale of the Ancient Tech is a fun story that will catch the interest of the intended audience: six to eight year old children. The app works well and kids will find the interface intuitive to operate. Most pages have interactions marked by a yellow triangle with a question mark, and some have multiple interactions. A few of the resulting animations are kind of subtle, such as clicking the switch on a lamp to dim the lights in the room, and none of the interactions work more than once during a viewing. Kids might have a bit more fun if at least some of the interactions were a bit less obvious, necessitating some exploration of the pages.
This ebook presents an entertaining look at past versions of common household technology, such as the evolution of televisions, cell phones and computers. The incredulous Mia gets a tour of things most of us take for granted and how they have changed since her mother was a girl. The app misses an opportunity by just going back twenty or so years in the history of tech when it could even show what these things were like for grandparents and great-grandparents, since there have been many remarkable changes well before the story takes up. For example, instead of simply showing a rotary phone, it would be easy to go back to the early days of telephones in homes with party lines, operators and cranks, and then moved through the rotary stage, the huge cell phone models, flip phones, and finally today’s smart phones. The “think about” questions are very well done, invoking higher order thinking on several levels including categorization and prediction skills. This is a very nice touch.
The app also includes four additional games. The Tidy Mia’s Room game seems a bit simplistic for most early elementary students-it’s a drag-and-drop to move the toys in the messy room to the toy box, and would be more suitable for preschoolers. Color Mia offers one picture to paint, with an option to do a screen shot of the finished product. Match the Tech allows users to pull the old-fashioned versions of each technology onto their modern counterparts. There are four devices to “modernize,” but they are always in the same places and don’t randomize, so the game won’t have a lot of staying power. The Memory game has four pairs that do change positions with subsequent rounds, but again, the game seems a bit simplistic for the intended audience.
Messy Mia and the Tale of the Ancient Tech is a fun story for young children. Kids usually have a fascination with the “olden days” when their parents grew up, so most will enjoy seeing what technology was like a few decades ago. The sound effects for the “old-fashioned tech” are accurate and well-presented. The narration is high-quality, using intonations and expression in ways that will help children maintain attention. The interactions on the pages are appropriate and connected to the story for the most part, but they are marked in obvious ways, which eliminates the added thrill of exploring new pages to find surprises that many ebooks contain. The extra games are nice, but simplistic. It would be helpful to have the option to turn off the background music when needed, as well, if a reader needs help focusing on the story.
This app seems a bit on the expensive side, since it is not likely to have the “staying power” of some other ebooks. It is intended for ages 6-8, but many of the games and interactions would be more appealing to younger readers. Even in the read-aloud mode and playing the games, the app can be completely explored in well under a half an hour.
Messy Mia and the Tale of the Ancient Tech is very child-friendly. There are no outside advertisements, no in-app purchases, no links to social media, and no connection to the App Store, email or the internet. The app is easy to use and navigation is clearly marked.