Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2014
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Crackers and Goo - Multiplication and Addition Math Skills Practice

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Fun pattern game builds important math skills, estimation strategies

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K-5
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Visually focused interactive game builds a deeper understanding of math skills than more traditional instructional methods.

Cons: Heavy emphasis on visual learning may not be effective for all kids' learning styles.

Bottom Line: Engaging interactive pattern game builds math skills with an emphasis on visual learning.

The Crackers & Goo games require a lot of concentration and would probably work best if kids play individually. Also, since learning through patterns can be somewhat abstract, kids should have some exposure to each skill before attempting that skill level. After introducing the game concept, have kids play, choosing the skill step that applies to the targeted lesson, then follow up with a class discussion. You might also encourage older kids to work in pairs to create and complete new patterns. 

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Crackers & Goo is an engaging game that teaches kids about addition and multiplication through patterns. Kids choose from 16 different levels, or skill steps, organized by grade-appropriate learning objectives. For example, steps 1 through 4 cover such kindergarten skills as counting and basic number patterns, while steps 12 through 16 cover skills for grades 5 and up, including multiplication and rounding. Once kids choose a skill step, the game begins with a partial pattern in the lower portion of the screen. Kids have to find and drag floating crackers into the empty spots to complete the pattern. Correct answers are based on color and numbers. Kids can use one pattern hint in each step, if they need it. When kids finish a pattern, they have to either count the cracker numbers to find the total value of the pattern or complete a math problem using the patterns, estimation, and other arithmetic strategies. Kids earn points for completing a level, and accumulated points are tracked for each game player. 

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Kids learn about addition and multiplication skills by observing and working with patterns. Game activities are aligned to several Common Core math standards. Kids can learn about addition and multiplication skills by observing and working with patterns. Specific skills include counting and skip counting; addition within 10, 20, 100, and 1,000; mental arithmetic strategies; rounding; expanding; and more. Kids begin by completing a pattern consisting of colorful numbered crackers. They count the numbers inside the crackers to find the total value of the pattern. At more challenging levels, kids have to solve an addition or multiplication problem using mental math. Kids who play the game well will likely build a solid set of important math skills. Some kids will need more concrete step-by-step instruction, however, especially when it comes to multiplication. In those cases, follow-up problems based on place-value digits could help kids who struggle.    

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Overall Rating

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

Colorful and engaging interactive game; different skill sets are challenging at age-appropriate levels. Scores help keep kids motivated.

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

The visual approach of using patterns to build math skills is excellent, but may not be ideal for all learning styles. Skill sets increase in difficulty as each new level is unlocked.

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 one hint for each pattern, and a demo helps new players get started. A teacher info section offers great tips for using the app in the classroom.


Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Jennifer A. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Montclaire Elementary School
Los Altos, CA
Visual Puzzle Builds Addition and Multiplicaton Understanding

Crackers and Goo is entertaining for students. They like the visuals and earning points and are motivated to keep trying. It aligns to several Common Core State Standards in grades K-5 as well as mathematical practices, which is sometimes hard to find in an app (that critical thinking and analysis component). The variety of levels keeps students engaged and makes it worth purchasing. Having a hint at each level is also helpful for students--it gives them that little extra help that often allows them to understand on their own without asking me for help. Students like being able to help themselves. For some students the concepts are a little abstract, but after a small group or whole class conversation they are back on their way to solving the puzzles. I definitely recommend it, especially as a different approach to workbook pages or static question based math practice.

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