Avatar Generation’s Messy Mia – and The Tale of Ancient Tech by Samantha Kotey and Silvia Gallagher is one of those storybook apps that not only open discussion about the differences across the span of generations, it also helps bring them together through shared experiences. I can just envision this book being read to kids by an older person, and how thrilling it would be to have both these generations learn from each other about how they play and how things have changed. I used to love hearing my Grandpop show me old pictures or tools and talk about them. Included in the app, are games and activities to extend the play, and there is an option to hear it in both Spanish and English. The story centers on Mia, a little girl with very messy habits. One day as she was looking for the television’s remote control for her mother, she meets an old style robot under her bed. He begins to tell her stories about how people used to listen to music on boom boxes (CDs no less), watch videotapes on a VHS machine, and using big old computers instead of laptops! The picture of Mia’s mom accessing the internet with a dial up is priceless, especially when the internet cuts out on her. The one part I just loved though was seeing both a rotary dial telephone and a telephone booth – now both practically extinct. A lot of books, stories, and movies have images of older tech, and some kids have no clue what they do, so a simple direct story like this is very informative. It also gives kids a sense of time and that there were experiences in the past and there will be more experiences in the future. By giving kids a timeline, they can play with these notions of the past, present, future; and then begin to experience possibilities. And that idea of possibilities is the birth of imagination and invention.
For classroom and home use, there are discussion starters and/or writing prompts about the past, present, and future that give everyone a chance to voice their thoughts and opinions. A Read it Myself and Read to Me options are available, and refreshingly, all hotspots are highlighted with yellow triangles, which cuts through tapping for tapping’s sake and keeps the focus on the story. Finding the yellow triangles are also good practice for kids that have poor visual scanning skills find objects amongst the visual clutter. Vocabulary building by naming common household objects or even a memory game of viewing a page for 1 minute and then trying to write down everything you can remember are just a few extension activities to add.
In summary, I would definitely recommend Messy – Mia – and the Ancient Tech for preschoolers through 2nd grade. The story and included activities have opportunities to appreciate past generations and think about the future. And as educators, preparing for the future is our mission.
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.