Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2012
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Itsy Bitsy Spider - by Duck Duck Moose

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Itsy Bitsy nature facts with everyone's fave spider song

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
Pre-K-K This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Little tidbits of nature information provided by Chloe the fly offer just enough learning for little ones.

Cons: How kids move from one screen to the next is not intuitive at first, and general instruction is unclear.

Bottom Line: Visually beautiful app, but a few more verbal or visual clues could improve the experience.

In the classroom, this app may be a perfect playful companion to a lesson about nature (especially spring, weather, spiders, or metamorphosis) or a nursery rhyme theme. You can prompt kids to think about the relative positions of the objects in the scene -- the spider went "up the waterspout," "down came the rain," it "washed the spider out," then "up came the sun" -- and how they relate to the story told in the song. Don't forget to sing along, or record your own rendition!

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Itsy Bitsy Spider - by Duck Duck Moose is a sing-along app that uses the familiar song's lyrics and setting to create an interactive experience in which students can learn about nature, music, and cause-and-effect. Kids can listen to insect narrator Chloe sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider," or they can record their own version of the song or a story on the app. Chloe, a fly, also provides simple one- or two-sentence lessons, like "A spider has eight legs," or "The Sun is a star that is very hot. Even though the sun is very far from the Earth, it gives us lots of heat and light." Not detailed scientific explanations, but enough info for beginners. Kids can also tap the spider, other objects, kids, or animals on the screen for an interactive surprise.

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Interactive elements include mini-nature lessons, like a caterpillar morphing into a cocoon and then into a butterfly. A few act like fun mini-games, like the floating hats that kids have to tap at just the right time to have them land on the spider's head. Through the Itsy-Bitsy Spider theme, they learn about plants, nature, animals, and even a bit of counting. Plus, if kids record their own song or story, they can learn a bit about technology and how it works to record and replay a real voice.

A few more audio and visual prompts to clue kids into how to navigate the app would make for a better overall experience. Currently, the opening screen includes a couple of written instructions in words that kids new to reading may or may not be able to read ("Poke" and "Slide the hat up") and there are no audio directions at all. Adding some highlights to interactive objects or a few verbal instructions between song lines may help ease navigation confusion.These changes would catapult this "good" app into "great" status.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

Cute, colorful, and a whole lot of fun for kids under 5. The app has a wonderfully absurd sense of humor -- for example, as a bird flies by holding a hat, you can tap it to make it drop the hat onto the spider's head.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Kids can learn through context. The app takes what used to be simply a fun sing-along song and uses the lyrics and setting to create an activity where kids can explore and learn. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
1

The song/story continues in an infinite loop, so kids can keep playing (and seeing some new things) long after the relatively short five-scene tale is over.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Rae Ann S. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Hempfield School District
Landisville, PA
4
Sing Along and Learn!

As an adult watching a pre-K student use the app, I appreciated the fact that there were so many different "levels" of learning available. For example, a very young child or one with special needs could simply navigate through the familiar song by clicking on the spider. As I previously mentioned though, some students might need some adult prompting to get them started. A different child might count to 10 with the squirrel by clicking on him to gather more nuts on the roof. Another child may most enjoy listening to the information relating to nature provided by the fly throughout the app on clouds, rainfall, the life cycle of a caterpillar and more. I think that my favorite part of the app was the ability to record the child's voice and have it play back instead of the song. Not only was this fun, but what a great way to have a child hear their own language development! This would be perfect for ELLs and students with speech challenges. For those reasons, I see myself sharing this app with not only kindergarten teachers as a nice way to introduce students to the iPads at school, but also with our district ESL classes, Autistic support classrooms, and speech teachers. In reality, with the limited budget we have for app purchases in our district, these special needs populations are likely the only groups that would be able to obtain funding for a paid app anyway. Fortunately, I believe that these same students would most benefit from using this app anyway.

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