How I Use It
I use Crackers and Goo at several different points during the year as a way for students to practice their understanding of math in a visual manner focusing on patterns, which is an approach not used by other classroom resources. Generally I have students use the app toward the end of a chapter involving one of the Crackers and Goo math skills--addition within 20, 100 and 1000, skip counting, rounding, and expanding. In addition I use it at times for students who need a challenge assignment (instead of doing workbook pages) or for visual learners who are struggling with concepts in the workbook. Finally, Crackers and Goo is an app students can use during math choice time. I appreciate that the app allows for multiple users to log in and continue with their own progress from a previous session. The one part that doesn't work as well for me as the teacher is that student progress isn't compiled in a teacher dashboard. To determine student progress and understanding, I have to look at each iPad individually and log in as the student. This does allow for a natural conversation between myself and a student, but is not convenient when I'm lesson planning or checking-in on the evenings or weekends. Some users might not want this data collected, but I think it would be a helpful option.
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.