iconMia – the Happy Helper, a Fun Learning Adventure App by Kutona Interactive Inc is an absolutely adorable early learning app for preschoolers. Kutona has been a leader in the educational multimedia market since 1995, and our heroine, Mia is known throughout over 40 countries. They have received numerous awards for their dedication to children’s programming. Although Mia – the Happy Helper is intended for kids 4-6, younger ones will also enjoy play with an adult or older sibling.

The storyline begins with finding out that Mr. Maurice’s helper Johnny has hurt his ankle and needs help collecting items for the store. I love how the games are interwoven into the story and not just arbitrarily put out there. There is an end goal which teaches kids about timelines and persistence. There are 10 games in all, covering a multitude of preschool readiness skills. From counting both forward and backward to working on visual and auditory discrimination, impulse control, and reasoning skills, Mia taps into a broad spectrum of skill sets while still keeping gameplay fun and making sure that kids are successful. Every aspect of this app is well thought out and polished to perfection. From the artwork, narration and games to even how the tasks are presented is taken from an experiential point of view of a child. I like that there is a pause between the narration and starting a game to give kids time to transition and prepare for action. As a clinician, sometimes I forget that little ones need time for changing gears so as not to overwhelm their nervous systems with constant sensory input and demands, and I love that apps like this remind us to slow down so that everyone can process what is happening. Replay is insured by 2 levels of difficulty and the number of chores it takes to earn more music. Under the secured options area, parents or teachers can choose French or English as well as the ability to turn off music. There is also a link to Mia’s site: http://www.kutoka.com/en/index.html for more information specific to teachers and parents.1

The games
Mia is a spunky happy little mouse that is helping out her friend Johnny and for the chance to earn additional music to play on the piano in the general store. Although very small, she has a can do attitude, and is up for any challenge. As she pulls her little wagon across the woodland – fully equipped with a fun slingshot that you get to use to help Mia gather the goods she needs, there is a strong sense of community within the woods. The app subtlety implies, throughout its games and pages, that we can all use a little help at times, and we can find it by turning to others to whom we are close. I find this one of the hardest lessons for kids, and once discovered can lead to a lifelong sense of openness to the opinions and view of others. Some of the goals for the games include:

• Observation, visual discrimination and memory skills
• Counting, both backwards and forwards
• Logic, deduction and thinking skills
• Introduction to music, rhythm, and enhancing auditory processing skills
• Spatial orientation and patterning

2Highlighting a few of the games, let’s take a look at some of the favorites. Shooting spores will have you aiming at those nasty pollen spores with Mia’s slingshot. Here you set up a trajectory to aim stones and fling them at the spores. There is a specific number to eliminate, and you need to practice some impulse control to adequately aim and shoot.

In the Flea Market game, you are given a list to find objects in a visually messy array. Find all 10 of them and you are off to the next adventure! The piano is a lot of fun, but can prove a little hard, so you might want to join your student/child in learning each song.

In summary, Mia – the Happy Helper – A Fun Learning Adventure App by Kutona Interactive Inc is a well thought out early learning app that will serve teachers as an assessment tool for early learning skills and kids at home hours of interactive educational play. It is available both on iTunes and on Android – Google Play.

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About the Author

Picture - JoJo 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 everyday; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.

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