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★★★ Open House ★★★
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My Very Hungry Caterpillar AR
© 2017 StoryToys

CTR Review
buckleit
09/19/2017
Ease of Use
8/10
Educational
8/10
Entertaining
9/10
Design Features
9/10
Value
10/10
Total:
88%
Reviewed using the Standard Rubric
For ages 3-up
For grades P, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
$2.99, iPad, iPhone
Teaches: spatial relations, augmented reality
Tagged for: Augmented Reality, ECE
Now you can bring the caterpillar into your living room (classroom or library) with this AR (Augmented Reality) edition of My Very Hungry Caterpillar. Teachers and librarians -- plug the app into a big screen to let the caterpillar loose during your story time.

AR means that the computer generated graphics are layered over the images captured by your iPad's camera, in real time, giving the illusion that the caterpillar's world exists in your world. After a bit of experimentation (moving your tablet around to find spot in the room), our testers got the concept, feeding apples and pears to their caterpillar to see it fatten up and eventually turn into a butterfly that flaps around your room. Besides to cool visual effects, there's not much else to do with this app. Those looking for a narrative structure will be disappointed. Our testers ran out of things to do after exploring the toy chest. This app would be a nice addition to the existing My Very Hungry Caterpillar app. As a stand-alone experience however, it offers a high novelty effect with little lasting play value.

The app was made using Apple's ARKit, which means it won't work unless you are using iOS System 11 or newer on your device. Compatible devices are iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone SE, iPad Pro (9.7, 10.5 or 12.9), iPad (2017).
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5/20/2019

1
1 Expert Review
1 Expert Review
Avg. Rating: 80.2% (n = 1)
10/02/2017
Rating: 80.20%
Rubric: Standard
This app represents the second AR app I have downloaded for my young children. I elected to give it a try because it’s published by a trusted source of children’s interactive media (StoryToys) and because I just love the work of Eric Carle and always welcome an additional way to experience his genius.



My children were my play testers (as usual). I generally try to set up a recording of their use of new media and my support of their explorations when I’m evaluating something new. I really struggled with the setup this time, because the game requires the child to hold the device and move it around the environment, so much of my video ended up not actually capturing my children’s faces or the screen or my supports of their interactions (other than the verbal exchanges).



I can report initial senses of wonder and excitement with both my 3 year old and my 7 year old. The 7 year old connected immediately to her experiences with two other apps – Pokemon Go and My Very Hungry Caterpillar -- whereas my younger child did not readily offer these connections. I immediately recognized the replication of the book’s endpapers in the initializing of the app. The hole-punched dots floating in our living room provided context for connecting the art of the app with the art of the book, especially with my 7 year old. This nice touch, though, was met with some frustration from both my testers because, “it’s not doing anything.” Both play testers and I tried tapping, pinching, and spreading actions and looked all around, but we were frustrated we couldn’t see anything, especially our caterpillar friend who we’d anticipated from the thumbnail image on the app itself. After I assisted with the help tool (and found little advice what to DO with the app), my 3 year old left the room and my 7 year old asked if we could do something else. Shortening the length of this could help retain engagement, I think.



After a few more moments of the floating dots, our friend the caterpillar appeared. My 7 year old discovered a few fun things and made a connection to the story – that the number of pieces of fruit and the sequence of the fruit in the game was different than that which appeared in the book. She was delighted with the butterflies that appeared when she looked through the iPad’s camera up at the ceiling and even commented on the life cycle of a butterfly.



After my younger tester observed the older tester’s exploration of the AR app, the younger child was better able to meaningfully engage in her own exploration of the app too. Her experience contained far fewer large body movements spanning/searching the environment and the caterpillar was actually on her leg and foot for the majority of her second play experience (her first play experience was abandoned in 3 seconds).



She balanced the iPad on her legs and was tapping to make the fruit appear and delighted in the game she was playing with the caterpillar. The fruit was really large because of the camera’s detection of depth (I think) so close to her leg, but it did not seem to phase my tester. She called her game “Eat Strawberries” and was talking to the caterpillar through the whole game. When the screen darkened and the fruit switched from strawberry to apple, my 3 year old connected to something she learned in the book – the caterpillar sleeps and continues to eat on the next day.



My younger tester struggled to control the device while searching for the butterflies, like her sister had done. The 3 year old nearly fell back while searching the ceiling. Adults should be prepared for this possibility in their support of the child’s interaction with this app. The educational value for our family came because of my facilitation of connections and comparisons between the app and the book. Once the caterpillar appeared we were entertained for a while, but then lost interest.



Overall it’s a novel app, but I am not sure how much staying power it has for interest. The toy chest is limited and as far as I can tell there is no unlocking of additional content (e.g., friends from other Carle stories, perhaps, which could be utilized to create new stories), nor was there ability to “train” the caterpillar to do other things. My younger tester wanted her caterpillar to help clean up the toys.


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