INDEX BY: Edition / Title
Literacy
KS1
Multimedia Windows PC

Mia - The Search for Grandma's Remedy
published in 1998 by Ransom Publishing (www.ransom.co.uk)
19.99 2 CD Set

Mia - The Search for Grandma's Remedy

Mia is a small talking mouse. Her Grandma is ill in bed and urgently needs a remedy to make her better. Mia is sent to the store to purchase the remedy; paying for it with the 'sparklies' given to her by her Grandma. Unfortunately for Mia she has the 'sparklies' stolen. Guided by the player Mia sets off to find more 'sparklies'. To do this she has to navigate around the nooks and crannies of the house, overcome a variety of obstacles, play several 'literacy' games and manage to provide her Grandma with the necessary medicine.

The animation is extremely well done and is, as the packaging claims, of feature film quality. The accompanying sound effects and music will be appealing to children in the specified age range.

The central character that describes them verbally and demonstrates them through animation gives all Instructions very clearly.

The character is simply controlled by pointing the mouse to the direction you wish it to explore. Objects need to be "clicked" upon from time to time and, for some of the 'literacy' games, words, letters or pictures have to be dragged to the right place. The character gives help on request by clicking on its face.

I first used 'Mia' with a small group of nine and ten year old children who had finished their work during an ICT lesson. They immediately took to the game with unbounded enthusiasm. The effect on the rest of the class however was to completely distract them from the task at hand as they could not resist the appeal of 'Mia.' Indeed I too could not help but give it my attention. Consequently I decided that 'Mia' would best be used at the computer club that I run during lunchtimes. Everyone of the class who had seen 'Mia' during the original 'lesson' wanted to join. They were organised into groups of six.

The children quickly and easily understood the game and in general could operate it independently. They clearly enjoyed it and became totally involved in Mia's quest. Each group spent around 40 minutes of their lunchtime on three occasions before they completed the game. They then wanted to start again.

Whilst taking part in the adventure the children have to play six or seven 'word ' games. Their opinions on these parts varied from frustration: "Oh we'll have to play another game now... ", to mild enthusiasm. Generally they found the games quite easy from a literacy point of view. Some groups played at a more difficult level but found that the biggest change was really in the difficulty of winning the game (due to rule changes) rather than a need for increased literacy skills. This was particularly so with the first of the games that was in a board game format.

The games did provide some interesting literacy practise on phonics, rhyming words and spelling, and they were short and very well presented: managing to keep the children's attention but were not In sufficient depth to justify the purchase of 'Mia' solely on these grounds. Use within the curriculum would be limited.

'Mia ? the search for grandma's remedy' is highly entertaining and engaging. My class of Year 5 children thoroughly enjoyed using it in their own time. Used in this way or at home I would certainly recommend it, but as detailed above it has limitations in a class situation.

The children completed their own review sheets. 29 out of the 30 children awarded it 10 out of 10! The other mark was 9!

Their comments were positive regarding the characters, music and storyline and were tolerant of the 'literacy' games. Several children expressed some disappointment in the ending: "It was too sudden... we wanted to get back to granny.." or "We wanted to get the rat back!". For three of the five groups the sound failed for the very last scene which no doubt added to their disappointment in the ending.

P Emery
Poulton Primary School, Wirral