Review by Galen McQuillen, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2015
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Crafty Cut

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Gorgeous 2-D and 3-D shapes game offers intellectual play at its best

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5-10
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Pros: Beautiful graphics, free-play features, and excellent in-game support make for great hands-on discovery learning for all ages.

Cons: Some levels require almost-impossible precision, and there's not quite enough content to ensure deep understanding.

Bottom Line: One of the best ways to explore the relationships between 2-D and 3-D shapes and promote spatial reasoning in a way worksheets can't touch.

This is an awesome way to make cross sections interesting for your students, either as an in-class activity or at-home practice. Crafty Cut could easily replace your usual lesson plan for this standard, as it's leaps and bounds better than textbook illustrations or inflexible manipulatives. For younger students it would be great for meaningful classroom play, while for high school geometry lessons it could be used as an all-in-one self-taught lesson and assessment. It would also be great for supporting a more direct instruction lesson on the same content, if you don't feel comfortable going whole hog on a tablet-only lesson. At the time of this review, there weren't any other users online to test the multiplayer features, but it's possible that this could inject some social learning into the mix, which is always a good practice.

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In Crafty Cut, players encounter 3-D figures floating in space; they must drag the figures to slice them, forming cross sections that match given 2-D shapes. It's a very simple concept, but things get challenging quickly as the vocabulary becomes more sophisticated, shapes become more complex, and tricky multi-cut levels require clever problem-solving. For each cut, players earn up to three stars by satisfying the geometric properties of the target shape. These stars unlock harder levels and new materials for an included free-play mode, in which players can slice a cube at will.

All the figures encountered go into a gallery, which displays mathematical properties, name derivations, and historical details about each. A separate endless-runner shape-rotation game is included as well, which is addictive in its own right and reinforces the math, though it doesn't totally integrate with the rest of the app.

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It's important to note that Crafty Cut is designed to target one very specific math standard, which would normally take up about one day of instruction in a traditional classroom. That said, it teaches this one standard very, very well. This is the kind of pure-discovery, trial-and-error, hands-on learning that makes math really stick, as the spatial-reasoning core of geometry is brought to life by students' own hands.

The included mathematical properties and diagrams add factual depth to the experience, while the tiered feedback system supports self-reflection and persistence. The separate rotation game ups the spatial-reasoning ante, and though it doesn't really promote any specific standards, a little hand-eye coordination practice never hurts. There were a few minor factual inconsistencies (pentagons aren't necessarily equilateral), which is unusual for a game that rewards precision.

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Overall Rating

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

Addictive gameplay? Great graphics? Satisfying points and challenging levels? It's all here -- no surprise, given the app was designed by a pro game studio. Feels more like an app-store chart-topper than a learning game.

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

Discover geometric relationships through manipulation, exploration, and trial and error; definitions and diagrams are available to help, but they're not mandatory. This all leads to deep, meaningful learning of a very specific topic.

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

Specific feedback via a three-star success system communicates more than right and wrong. In-game tutorials, math facts, and unlimited retries make for great support, and Amplify's website has more guides.


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