App review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2015
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Silly syllable mix-and-match game has limited learning potential

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Pre-K–1 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, World Languages, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Five language options and syllable segmenting.

Cons: Few options to take learning further within the app could leave teachers wanting more.

Bottom Line: Cute diversion provides good simple fun, but look elsewhere for richer phonics practice.

Use MIXIMAL to help kids focus on syllables. Introduce all the animal names available in the app, and help kids clap through the syllables. Then let them create their animal mix-ups as a class or individually and guess what their animal is called before they tap through for the answer. Get kids' creative juices and critical thinking flowing by having them use their mixed-up creations as a springboard for projects on animal behavior. Have them create an animal and take a screen shot. Then, have them describe what the animal eats, where it lives, how it moves, what sounds it makes, and so on. They can draw its habitat and make up stories about what it does and how it lives.

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MIXIMAL is a digital version of those flipbooks that allow kids to mix and match parts. Here, animal drawings are segmented vertically into three parts. Kids swipe left and right to scroll through animal heads, midsections, and bottom sections. Combine the head of a crocodile with a gorilla's chest and a flamingo's legs, for example. Tap to see and hear the name of your animal: Croc-ri-go in the case of the CROCodile, goRIlla, flaminGO. Each animal section makes a little movement, and there's a silly animation when kids match all three animal sections. Animal names are available in English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish.

Cute graphics, silly animations, and a large number of ridiculous animal combinations make for great fun and lots of giggles. MIXIMAL is a sweet rendition of traditional flipbooks, with an added twist of sound and animation. The matching segmented animal names are a nice touch for kids to work on breaking words down into syllables. Color coding helps kids match the animal section to the corresponding syllable placement, but kids will likely need additional guidance to really make the connection. The language options are also nice for kids who happen to speak one of those five languages, or who want to learn animal names in another language.

Though there are a good number of available animals and tons of possible animal combinations, MIXIMAL's appeal may be limited. There are only so many times kids will want to mix animal parts and laugh at what they've created. A photo option would be nice so kids could capture their creations, and some space for commenting on or describing these new animal combinations would round out the game and offer some ways to keep kids more engaged. Yet, overall, MIXIMAL is a sweet and entertaining quick game.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Making giggle-inducing combinations of animals is sure to engage and delight, and those silly animal names add another layer of fun. Yet this one-trick pony may not be enough to capture kids' attention for very long.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

This app is more about fun than learning. Yet, kids can use their imaginations to create different animal combinations, and the animal names may help them work on segmenting words by syllable.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Play is easy and well-supported, and five language options make the app accessible to kids who speak those five languages. It would be better if kids could save or expand on their creations.

Common Sense reviewer
Mieke VanderBorght Researcher

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