Title: Millie's Maths House
Class Group: Junior Infants
Curriculum Areas: This software is useful for basic numeracy, addition
and subtraction up to 20 and also
shapes, sizes and patterns.
Special Needs Categories: Might be of benefit to remedial infant pupils.
The title was evaluated after classroom use with a junior infant class, average
age of 4 or 5 in the
sujbect area of maths.
This is an excellent introduction to the basics of infant mathematics. The instructions are very clear
and the children particularly enjoyed building the houses in Mouse House. Millie has a house in
which different rooms form different games. They are all designed with a uniformity in features.
This makes it exceptionally easy to move around. For example, when one first enters a room,
one is in an exploratory mode where anything one may click on is explained, but, whenever the
picture on the wall is clicked, the room goes into question and answer mode. Also, if the level
needed upgrading the appropriate icons were to be found on the bottom-right of the screen and
to exit the buttons were always found on the bottom-left.
Overview of Teaching with this Title:
This title supports the subject areas of junior infant mathematics. It supports teaching and learning
objectives concerning basic numeracy, addition and subtraction skills, shape, size and patterns.
For me, what this title contributes to the learning scenario which cannot be duplicated by other non
computer-based resources is that it gives instant feedback to answers and also that the pupils learn
at their own pace whilst not relying on the teacher to correct written workbook pages. Of course it also
talks to the pupil individually and that and its unending patience is great for the self-esteem. Its strongest
features for classroom use are that it was very easy to use and children can navigate it themselves to a
large extent. Within the school context, this product would be best suited to junior infants. Teachers, in
order to use this product effectively, would need to know the areas it covers and how to navigate it.
The weaknesses of this product for classroom use are as follows: *The main problems encountered were
with the Bing and Boing pattern-making game. The pattern was too short as three and the longer pattern
was a little long for it to be played twice over without a choice. Also the uneven number in the pattern meant
that an a,b,a,b,a,b, pattern could not ever be established or so we thought until we discovered by default
that patterns of four could be made an played but that five was the maximum. In the lower level also a pattern
of two can also be made. *The second problem was with the recocrding of a sound. I thought this was a
lovely addition but although everything went through the motions of working, and following the help in the
manual, I increased the volume on my computer, no sound was recorded. I still have not solved the problem.
This product supports a drill and learn style of computer usage.
Installation and Use:
On first installation, the software installed o.k. and needed no correction. There are no known conflicts
with other programs and it did not alter the machine configuration. I can also uninstall the program with ease.
The program loads quickly enough for classroom use and it responds quickly to input from a child.
It supports junior infant maths topics, the extent of which is appropriate enough for the target audience.
The information is structured to support learning by putting the "exploratory/teaching" mode first and
the "drill and practise" later as well as the way in which each topic is dealt with separately in each room.
Because of the drill and practice nature of this product it contains no material unsuitable for any group
nor does it reflect any underlying values. The sound is of very good quality and was loud and clear as soon
as I adjusted my own computer appropriately. The images and animations were cheerful and clear without
proving a strain on the eyes.
It supports those curriculum topics mentioned as above. The child can learn and practice basic numeracy
skills up to 30 and addition and subtraction up to 20 as well as patterns, shapes and sizes and problem-solving skills.
Design and Navigation:
This software excellently supports the learner by providing an easy structure to access and navigate as well
as by which to learn. The on-screen help is not often needed which is the best help possible. You can by-pass
the introductory sequence very easily and can get into and out of the section you want with ease too. The title
can be used by children without the presence of an adult and it is genuinely interactive. The child can use the
software with minimal help and it is very clear how you move around the product. The vocabulary in the
menus is limited so as to be accessible to the children but the icons are appealing and meaningful and large
enough to be easily selected using a mouse. There are no resources available with the product but I would
say it is already adequately supported by the usual worksheets and books in the average infant classroom.
Also Mouse House and Build a Bug both have printing options which are very good. Here the children can
print off their creations and what I like best is that the surrounding area does not appear at all which saves
on clutter on the page as well as ink for the printer. Children could easily be engaged colouring it in and putting
in a background.
The product has no text but the speech spoken is clear and concise. The title can be customised by an adult
to the extent that theme music can be switched off and printing can and cannot be allowed and in colour
or not as desired. Also no exit for the player can be chosen. For special needs users single switch scanning
is an option.
The exercises offered are obvious drill and practice types except for the creative sides offered in Build a
Bug and in Mouse House. The exercises become more difficult when a level up is chosen in the bottom right
of the screen. The user easily knows when the answer is right or wrong but the speech actively encourages
and in many cases reduces the options even so far as to give no option but the correct answer to click on.
The program does not keep track of where the child is at but each level is very easily re-accessed on a
back to the top