Most people have fond memories of listening to Eric Carle’s work being read aloud, particularly The Very Hungry Caterpillar and now there is an app for that! The game My Very Hungry Caterpillar allows children to take control of this famed insect and lead it through its life phases, but with a twist. The children have to pick food for the caterpillar, grow food for it, and they can play basic coloring and shape identification games as it moves through its life. This organization allows for the app to both give children room to have fun, but also take care of a virtual pet, in many ways reminiscent of the great Chia Pet days gone by. This app is supported by both Android and Apple devices and is normally $3.99, but right now due to the holidays it is a free download. The game is billed for children ages 2 and up and its aim is to help them develop nurturing skills and offers a “wide range of interactive activities” as written in the Playstore app description. While this description is vague, the app does feature a shape identification game which would be helpful for children and it also has a free range coloring area where children can use the caterpillar somewhat like a pen or brush, helping demonstrate how art can be fun. While these are not overly sophisticated they do offer a gentle introduction to basic learning skills children will need.
The app is clearly geared towards making connections to the work of Eric Carle and influencing children into buying or using more of the work by this author. While this is blatantly consumerist, Carle’s work is excellent for children and has been so well received and reviewed that it does not seem to be a negative in this case. Overall, the app itself is easy to navigate and does not need much explanation as all actions are demonstrated with on-screen cues so the children can follow along. I would questions giving it to children as young as two; ages three to four would seem more appropriate as a starting point because the child will need to know to follow on screen prompts to get reactions. It does meet its stated goals of interactivity and nurturing, thereby helping teach children about the natural world.
It has also been fairly well received by critics. In its Google Playstore description it mentions that it was picked for the “Children’s Technology Review, Editor’s Choice and Children’s Technology Review, Top 10 Essential Apps for a Child’s First iPad.” Common Sense Media did point out though that the app greatly accelerate the rate of plant growth and this may cause issues later when this needs to be debunked. Common Sense Media did say that it is a pretty app that is a “… delightful experience for little ones” and “… the basic concepts of pet care and the ability to navigate an app are useful building blocks.” Overall, this app is a fine and fun game, but not overly educational or informative; largely existing to further monopolize the Carle’s work, but it does not pretend to really be anything greater than that. While this is not a glowing review, it does demonstrate that the app is largely fun and engaging for younger children and if nothing else, further enhances the world of Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Image from youtube.com