Friday, September 21, 2012

App Review: Sushi Monster

Scholastic's Sushi Monster ate my family. One bite. I said, "I'm trying out this app" to a 40-year-old, a nine-year-old, and a seven-year-old, and each time the person disappeared into the land of sushi until forced to relinquish the iPad.

It's a simple game; I'm not sure how it manages to be so fun. The game teaches factoring and drills players on their multiplication and addition facts. To that end, the sushi monster sits in the middle of the table.

Players feed it plates of sushi with numbers on them that add up to or multiply to equal the number at the top of the screen. When players succeed, Sushi Monster gobbles up the sushi. When the number is wrong, Sushi Monster tosses the plates aside and grumbles monstrously.

Having missed multiplication lessons during my many moves, I count on my fingers and have to stop and think about what times what equals 121.  And I hate, hate, hate math speed drills.

But I loved this game: the speed, the silliness, the varying levels of difficulty. So let's give it the TJ Test:


  • Does it do what it says it'll do? Yep. It says it's a fun way to practice with number families, multiplication and addition, and so it does.
  • Does it solve a current problem in the classroom?  Yes. It uses kid-friendly wackiness to encourage repeated practice of core math fluency skills.
  • Does it create a new opportunity in the classroom?  Basically. With one iPad, this would be a fun game to have at a station. I would love to see this projected via a smartboard so kids (say, third graders) could move the plates themselves and the whole class could call out advice. In a one-to-one setting, students could use this as their practice time in support of units on these subjects.
  • Would Thomas Jefferson think it was cool? I wonder sometimes if that guy had a sense of humor, but as far as this kind of learning helping and not impeding a young genius? Yeah, I think it works.  TJ and his compatriots ...and almost every other educated person on the planet who wasn't educated in the US since the 60s...carried a lot of information via memorization. And they work hard to get that stuff in their brains. This is the same kind of work, but sillier. I like that.

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