Little Miss Inventor Coding

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
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Cute idea lacks clear directions and entertainment value.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can practice their coding logic skills (i.e., creating a series of clear steps to an end goal), as well as their debugging skills. 

Ease of Play

Controls are simple, but tutorial is too vague and some features are never introduced. No help is available. 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Little Miss Inventor Coding is an app based on Little Miss Inventor, the 38th book in the Little Miss series. It's similar to many other "coding" apps for kids in that it asks them to lay out directional symbols in order to direct a robot from one point to another, but it's more of a logic puzzler without involving any true coding. The tutorial and subsequent directions give visual examples of what kids should do, but they have no words (written or spoken), making it difficult at times to understand what's being presented. Some of the items appear with no introduction, directions, or help. Kids can earn one to three stars on a level, but the app never explains how to earn each star or how to improve your score. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

LITTLE MISS INVENTOR CODING invites you into the Little Miss world with an introduction to coding for kids. Little Miss Inventor has invented a robot to do some gardening, but she needs your help programming the robot correctly. Using a set of visual instructions (left, right, up, down, etc.), kids will create a "program" for the robot to follow to navigate obstacles, clear rocks, and get to her end goal. If they make a mistake, the robot will shut down and they will have to fix their "code" and try again. There are 30 levels, and kids are also introduced to the concept of functions along the way. The focus is on learning coding logic, but there is no actual code involved.  

Is it any good?

A lot of apps out there introduce kids to coding logic and, unfortunately, most do it better than this one. Right out of the gate, Little Miss Inventor Coding drops the ball by not explaining the backstory. Kids may never realize that the little pink garden cart is a robot that has been invented by Little Miss Inventor. The tutorial consists of a series of screenshots that are supposed to show kids what to do, but it starts out with the instruction buttons already in place instead of showing them being dragged out from the holding tray. Without words, it's hard to get a clear picture of what's happening. When the "A" button is introduced, it shows the robot watering a flower but never explains that it's also used for any similar activity, like clearing rocks. Later, a double arrow button appears with no introduction whatsoever. This lack of support and explanation will be extremely frustrating for younger kids with no coding experience. Kids with coding experience may know what to do, but that's when the next flaw becomes apparent: There's no incentive to do any of it. Without any feedback, kids just move on to the next level and do it all again. Kids can earn up to three stars on a level, but the game never explains why you haven't gotten a perfect score. Did you use too many buttons? Make too many mistakes in early attempts? There was room here for something cute to happen, such as a story about why she's gardening for 30 of her closest friends, but without enough support, no clear narrative, and no feedback, kids are just left with what feels like a real gardening chore.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about coding logic and the importance of clear directions. After using Little Miss Inventor Coding, practice giving and following step-by-step directions from one point in your house to another. Can you also give clear directions for putting on a shirt or making a sandwich? 

  • Families can talk about learning with apps. Do you think this is a good app for learning? Why, or why not? What can you learn? 

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For kids who love coding and STEM

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