Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2014
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Cookie Monster's Challenge

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Unique games help young kids build essential school-readiness skills

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Pre-K-K
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Pros: Games intelligently build in complexity; kids just keep trying until they respond correctly.

Cons: Not many negatives, but games can be addictive.

Bottom Line: Creative and clever approach helps kids practice important school-readiness skills.

Games are designed to give kids practice with essential foundational skills in a fun, supportive context. Since games build in complexity through levels, and many upper-level games rely on instructions learned in lower levels, kids should complete levels in order. Teachers can create up to three profiles, and at each level, kids can save their progress in their personal profiles, so they can play the games multiple times. Some teachers might also use the games as an assessment tool. Seeing which kids have more trouble with memory, attentiveness, or impulse control may help teachers better address their needs.

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Kids complete mini-games through nine levels as they piece together a silly cookie contraption that, when completed, delivers cookies to Cookie Monster. Games address such school-readiness skills as self-control, focus, persistence, memory, and problem-solving; all require kids to listen attentively and follow directions. Games build on one another and get more complex as levels progress: In Level 1, kids must press a red button when they see a cat appear. By Level 9, they must press the red button only when they see a cat wearing a hat, and be able to ignore such distractors as cats with no hats, other animals, and Cookie Monster wearing kitty ears.

Each game set includes three activities, and each level has three sets. If kids make a mistake, they go back to the beginning of the set to try again, each time with increasingly more direct instructions. Kids can save their progress as they finish each level.

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These games help kids practice important school-readiness and executive function skills that aren’t as easy to address as typical academic skills. Games are engaging and appealing, and intelligently build in complexity through the levels. Importantly, games successfully address what they say they address. Imagine the self-control needed for a 3-year-old to follow directions and not touch a pig as it saunters across the screen, even stopping to wag its tail. There are no consequences for making mistakes; kids simply try again until they can do it. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

What kid wouldn't want to help Cookie Monster eat more cookies? Appealing, charming games help build and test a crazy cookie-delivery contraption.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Increasingly challenging and complex games give kids lots of practice in memorization, following directions, and problem-solving.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Kids get instructions and implicit feedback. Incorrect responses send them to the beginning of the game to try again, each time with increasingly explicit directions. Adults' section offers valuable learning extensions.


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