Product Review of This is my car – Mechanics for kids
Kids’ voices and a cartoon format teach about car mechanics. Kids scroll across the screen, as if they’re driving from one activity to another, reading or hearing about different parts of cars, mechanics, and car safety. Cartoon-like format appeals to preschool car lovers, while vocabulary and information is advanced enough for elementary learners. Advanced learners can learn the language of the discipline as they explore the names of the parts of an engine and how an engine works.
Students start by choosing a sports car, sedan, hatchback, or SUV. They paint and decorate it; learn how the engine, steering, and wheels work; fill it with gasoline, oil, and washer fluid; wash it; change and fill the tires; and learn about car safety. Information is presented through interactive features and hands-on activities. After kids complete activities, they earn a picture that’s saved to their gallery. When they earn 20 pictures, they get a driver’s license.
Kinder teachers could offer this app as an activity in a life-skills or car-safety unit. Elementary teachers could steer kids with an interest in cars and mechanics to the app for a small-group or individual research project. Students could then report what they learn to the class.
Students explore cars from the inside out, learning the names and functions of the parts, from the engine compartment and what it contains to such safety features as air bags, seat belts, and safety glass. Some components are just named, while others can be tapped for more information. Kids also practice hands-on car care as they gas up, fill and change tires, and wash the car.
Enough information is included that even some adults may learn a bit about how cars work. Material is presented in a fun, hands-on way that doesn’t talk down to kids, but a few hiccups prevent it from being a top performer. First, kids have to earn 20 pictures to get a driver’s license. That means they have to go through all the included material twice before earning a license. While the activities are fun and the material is interesting, it’d be nice if kids got that reward after one time through the content. Second, although the cartoon illustrations and car topic appeals to preschoolers, some text is written only; most preschoolers would need the material read aloud. Some gestures and controls are awkward, especially for little hands. Successfully changing a tire can take several attempts (although perhaps that’s intentional preparation for the real activity). Even with its flaws, however, This is my car – Mechanics for kids is driveable without a recall, especially for learners interested in cars and mechanics.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Kids mimic what they see adults doing, completing hands-on simulation activities as they take care of the car and explore how it works.
Curriculum and Instruction
Kids are in the driver’s seat as they explore the inside and outside of a car, and learn how it works and how to maintain it. They learn the vocabulary of the discipline as well.
No help is available as the intention is for kids to tap and explore, but some tasks could use a bit of guidance on the gestures they should use.