Reviewed by Betty Lumley
Once again d2 Digital have produced an outstanding piece of software for early years children. The children have fun while they learn about rhythm, speech, movement and melody. The format is simple and effective; children can move through the activities at their own pace and will not need adult intervention to explain what is going on.
There are four activities, each exploring a different aspect of music. There is a uniformity of approach, making navigation simple. Icons indicate their use, for example to return to a previous screen the child needs to click on a note with back facing arrow and to leave the game there is a 'mouse hole shaped door' labelled 'exit'.
The little print that is on the screen is clear and inviting; most children will try to read it.
The Old McDonald's Farm section allows the child to explore three different environments within a farm setting where animals and objects have specific sounds which can be blended in with the tune. Saucepans clatter with different notes, a clock ticks, a spinning wheel can be started, a hen lays eggs, paint tins rattle; all these and many more can be activated by clicking on or just rolling the cursor over the objects.
Picture songs invites the child to listen to songs composed by each mouse, three in all. As the songs are played icons of the instruments playing are highlighted, the tune can be stopped and started at will. The child can compose a tune by clearing all the icons and dragging new instrument icons from a bank. After playing the tune the child can make judgements and revise the composition until it is 'perfect'.
The Mouse Piano has two aspects, a song player and a keyboard. There are four songs to choose from and with each the child can play the keyboard which will respond with the sounds of various instruments (trumpet, guitar, piano, harp, drums, flute) which have been chosen by the child.
Mouse dancing invites the child to choose from three mouse dances. The speeds of the dances vary and four words (feet, ears, tail and arms) appear on the screen and the game is to click on the appropriate picture. There are ten questions and then the game ends to mouse applause.
These activities together with the fun and self-motivation of exploring music make this a piece of software well worth having. It costs £12.99 and can be obtained by email from firstname.lastname@example.org or on line from www.themouseclub.co.uk.
A visit to www.themouseclub.co.uk will provide a club to join, games to play and many other activities (heart shaped biscuits on Valentines Day), all fun as well as educational, written by people who really understand early years children.
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