Mini-U: My Home is a visual-spatial processing app from the folks at PopAppFactory. The focus is on coordinating not only what one sees, but also the ability to take that visual information and manipulate it into a mental 3D environment. Why is that important? When we are young – we need to know just how far away Mommy is, then as a toddler – we need to know how much birthday cake will fit in our mouths, and when we are school age – to know where to find our classroom and be able to copy items from the board to the paper on the desk. Often kids with poor visual spatial processing; seem fatigued, have trouble learning letters and writing (formation and spacing). They may bump into things, have difficulty discriminating right from left, and can’t locate needed materials. In the app, My Home, there are 3 mini games, using familiar household items illustrated in PopAppFactory’s fun signature style. So come on, let’s play!
Shoes Magician: In shoes magician you are asked to match both the left and right shoes and then place them on their shoe boxes. Discriminating size, shape and orientation, you also have to slightly “turn” each shoe mentally to make a match. I love how the shoe boxes come to life with rhythm and sound once you’ve given those shoes. See that cute little green shoebox? He sounds just like Barry White when giving you praise for outfitting him with shoes. Now that’s reinforcing!
Wallpaper Hanger: This mini-game address left/right discrimination which directly translates into body awareness and movement through space by placing wallpaper and orienting the pieces to be in sync. When doing this with a toddler, you can help them to develop the pattern of “reading” a visual from left to right. I like how the developer placed the pieces in small increments which train you in doing things sequentially. The music, as in all the mini-games, adds a complexity of depth and helps coordinate hearing with vision and movement. And that is the trifecta of skills needed for a ready and capable learner. It would be nice in future updates to be able to turn the music off so as to help grade the tasks for sensory sensitive kids by adding the music when they are able to tolerate it.
Wardrobe Builder: Here is where the challenge takes a turn, so to speak. In Wardrobe Builder, you must mentally calculate size, orientation, and exactly where something may fit. Sort of like a toddler version of Tetris. In the example on the right, the hat may fit in where the fan is, but it is not as good as a fit as the fan. Exercises like this reinforce that hats are smaller than coats and ironing boards… and so, help us place order to objects in our world.
In summary, Mini U: My Home is a fun app for preschoolers and helps them refine their perceptual skills. The graphics are cheerful and gameplay is reinforcing. A preschooler can be up and running with this app independently in minutes. Some off screen activities that you can include are playground activities, particularly swings to reinforce near and far (and that people who are far appear small when they are far away). Packing lunches in a lunch box, puzzles, and twisting tubes where you can match up pictures, are activities that promote spatial learning. Listening and acting out stories, going on a treasure hunt, dancing, and batting at balloons or bubbles are all play activities that help kids learn about space and time.
- Reinforces early visual spatial skills
- Helps build vocabulary of common household objects
- Teaches matching of similar items (not identical), big/small, and left/right
- Promotes beginning iPad skills
- Values and reinforces persistence and independence
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 everyday; so that "her kids" grow up to be healthy independent learners.