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My 5-year-old Daughter knew what she wanted Santa to bring her, from around Easter time...a DS. Brilliant, I managed to pick a nice pink one up cheap with some promotional gift cards in Argos and had it secreted away well before the date. However when it came to buying games for her, I was a little unsure. My teenage son wasn't much use when I asked; his recommendation was some horrid war game for himself (nice try son!). My daughter has only just turned 5, hasn't really played computer games before, and is only just starting to read so they needed to be pretty simple and low in text. It was then that I remembered reading fellow Dooyooer, Hishyeness, reviews on games and books his similar aged daughter had used, and asked for some recommendations. His little girl very kindly gave a list of her favourites (Thank you!). The 'I Did It Mum' games were one of them.
About 'I Did It Mum'
'I Did It Mum' is a series of games, that as far as I am aware are only available for the Nintendo DS. There is a range of games including ones specifically aimed at Girls or Boys. I chose the original game for Girls, which at the time was available for just under £10 on Amazon, although the price has increased since then.
Aimed at children aged 3+, this is described as 'A selection of 12 mini games to amuse your child and teach them simple concepts like Numbers and Colours'
Playing The Game
Keen to get stuck straight into her new console, this was the first game my Daughter chose to play on Christmas morning. I'm pretty clueless when it comes to video games and so my first ever review of one will be how we found it, with apologies if anything I state is obvious or any major technical details are missed.
First using the game required a little set up of entering the child's name, child and parent birthdays and the parent (me) recording encouraging and praising messages. This was very simple to do with clear instructions, and I was quite proud that I had managed to record 2 loving messages to my daughter without any problems. There is an instruction booklet, but we didn't need to use this.
You are then taken to the menu screen, and after the initial game this is where you begin. This screen is set out like a play room with the different games listed against relating objects. The games include drawing, colouring, jigsaw puzzles, spot the difference, picture matching, number guessing, feed the hamster, make lunch, dress up, match the sounds and instruments. To play the game of your choice, you simply touch the picture relating to the game with the stylus and are taken there.
Out of the twelve games, I would say 50% are very good and my daughter managed to pick them up easily and enjoy them. The colouring and drawing games are probably her favourites and involve either colouring a pre-drawn picture or drawing one of your own, with various 'brush' sizes and stamps. Matching the pictures and feeding the hamsters also score highly and keep her attention, while being easy to understand and with little or no text to follow.
The 2 poor games, in my opinion and judging from my daughter playing them, are the lunchbox and dress up game. The lunchbox one is so simple it has no entertainment to it all, simply requiring you to choose a selection of bizarre and unidentifiable foods to put in a lunchbox and that's it. The dress up game appears quite good to begin with, it's fun to choose different outfits for the girl character on screen, until you realise the choice is quite limited and very quickly you will have tried every combination.
The graphics are bright and colourful but very simple, which is fine for the targeted age range of this game. Despite never really playing on a computer game before, other than the cbeebies site, my daughter was able to easily work out what she needed to do without constantly asking me (unlike the Tinkerbell game which has proved totally inappropriate for her age). She has had plenty of quiet moments sitting down and playing this, leaving me to have a moment to get on with something else.
My daughter also really likes the positive phrases I have recorded onto the game, as well as the pre-recorded ones. Being quite a competitive child, she really does like praise, and was over the moon to hear me say 'well done' in her game. Personally I thought the sound was rubbish, and cringed at myself. The sounds for the rest of the game are quite repetitive, but not too tinny and annoying.
I Did It Mum has proved to be an ideal first game for my daughters DS. While some of the games are disappointing, the majority are engaging and simple enough for her to play alone and most are based on games she is already familiar with. There's no text for her to struggle with, and because they are mini games, there is no continuation to the games and she can pick them up at anytime and play for a while.
This game has already proved handy on a quite long car journey with my parents. Sitting alone in the backseat, she entertained herself for almost the full hour with the game, without shouting for help or getting bored. I'm not sure it's a game she will play for long periods of time, which is a good thing, rather that she will pick it up, play a couple of games and then move on.
Educationally, I don't really think she will learn much from the game, maybe some hand to eye co-ordination in the drawing at a push. But then I am always sceptical at claims that computer games are educational. In my opinion, they should be fun, and she certainly seems to find this game quite fun.
I Did It Mum is certainly a good first Ds game for young children, however I do think that 6 year olds and over may find this too simple and grow bored very quickly. At the moment my daughter is happy to play the same simple games over again, however I do think it has quite a short age limit on it. A lot of the games are completed easily and quickly, and there is nothing else to do other than start over again. The Lunchbox and Dress up games in particular are a case of 'done them once, now what?' I believe as an introduction to her games console this was a perfect choice, although I'm not expecting it to stay a favourite for too long as the novelty may wear off quickly.
I'd recommend the 'I Did it Mum' girls version to a parent about to buy a younger child, aged 3-5, their first DS, especially if they are new to computer games in general. For children who are confident readers or have more technical knowledge, however, I'd suspect this game may be somewhat under whelming and there may be better out there. Overall, I am pleased with my choice, and Hishyeness and his daughter's recommendation. And compared to the price of my son's games, is well worth the money I paid.
My 4 year old got this game for Christmas with her ds and it has become one of her favourites. It is laid out and designed in such a way that younger children can easily work out which mini-game they want to play because as well as having the text showing the name of the game there is a graphic beside it making their favourites easy to find. This saves a lot of "mummy can you" type sentences when I'm trying to do a bit of housework.
I would imagine this game would be suitable for over threes but probably would be too easy for 6 or over.
The mini-games are:
Colouring : You choose your picture and then touch on a colour on the bar at the right hand side and then touch the piece of the picture you want to colour. You don't use the stylus to actually colour in the pieces it just requires a touch. You can erase all the colour and start all over again so although there are only ten different pictures they can be used over and over again or saved once completed. Once you touch done the picture becomes animated eg. The cat blinks, moves its tail and ears.
Find the Differences : You are shown a picture in the top screen and a picture in the bottom screen and have to touch where the differences appear. There are five differences and you need to touch the five differences correct before getting five wrong to win.
Dress Up: This is probably her favourite game: You have a girl and you can change her hair, clothes etc. depending on where she is. Eg one time you have a picture of a beach and you can change her look and give her accessories such as a bucket and spade.
Counting: There are ten cards and you have to count how many of a specific card are shown eg. A giraffe. It starts with just showing the featured cards but gets more difficult as you get further on and shows cards which aren't the giraffe shown as well.
Play instruments: You can hit bells, tambourine, cymbals and a triangle to make your own music. Unless I've missed something here I don't really see much of a fun element.
Match Sounds: Animal pictures are shown which are animated and make their sounds. You then have to touch them in the order which the sounds were made. Reminds me of the electronic game simon from many years ago.
Feed Hamsters: Little hamsters pop out of holes and you have to touch them as they pop-up to fee them. A bit like whack a mole but without the violence.
Puzzle: There is a blacked out shape eg a hen and you have to insert the pieces in the correct place as shown on the top screen. Once you have finished you are rewarded by your animal\flower becoming animated.
Drawing : This game uses the stylus as a colouring pencil to draw or use the stamps provided. Another game which she is happy to play over and over.
Piano : Piano keys show on the bottom screen and you can choose piano, organ or cat noises. Make-up your own tune and you can then record and play it back.
Picture Match : You see the cards which are then turned over and you have to turn over two at a time to find the match.
Lunch box : Choose your lunch box and then touch the items of food you wish to pack. Your lunch box shows on the top screen with your choices.
Admittedly some of the food pictures aren't exactly obvious as to what they are.
The games are all educational but fun and easy for young children to understand. You have a choice here that you can sit and play with your child or leave her to play on her own.
The best bit is the option to record a message from yourself congratulating her on completing the games. There is only a few seconds of recording time and your voice does come out very quietly. My daughter is under the impression that this is actually there to record her singing high school musical songs so she keeps recording over my congratulations messages.
This is a great game for 3 - 6 year olds although I would recommend buying it for those towards the lower age range as it won't keep six year olds amused for as long. It will definitely keep kids amused on long car journeys and they can easily navigate through the colourful menus and games without adult help. This is a lot more fun for her than some of the other games she received as there is no text to scroll through and she is learning hand eye co-ordination, counting, animal noises etc without even realizing that she is learning.
Priced around £16.99
Also available is a version for boys.
There are two versions of the game - one for boys and one for girls. The two versions have a different selection of minigames designed to appeal to sons and daughters alike, with the boy version featuring games like "toy train" or "drive the car," and the girl version offering games like "colour the animals" or "little kitchen." I Did It Mum offers simple but fun challenges for this age group, which they can enjoy completing with a parent. Additional feature allowing a voice recording option for Mum to encourage their child when completing the minigames.