Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2012
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Fish School

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Waves of fun with fish forming letters, numbers, and colors

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Teachers say (1 Review)
$avg_user_learning_rating
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Grades
Pre-K-K This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: The design is both visually appealing and easy for young kids to navigate moving between activities.

Cons: Some instructions are provided in a toddler's voice that is difficult to hear and understand.

Bottom Line: A cute app for introducing early learning skills of numbers, letters, colors and more where perky schools of fish do the teaching.

In the classroom, teachers may want to play Fish School with students the first time or two, just to make sure kids are grasping the abstract letters and numbers that the fish are making together. One weakness of this app is that an actual lined number, shape, or letter doesn't materialize on top of the synchronized swimming fish. Most letters are easy to distinguish, but a few require a bit of imagination. Kids who get easily frustrated with other digital learning tools or who lack interest in learning these basic skills may find this app more appealing than others. The soothing colors, music, and graceful motion of the digital fish may be calming enough to support engagement.

Teachers can use this app at a digital station or in small groups with kids taking turns "touching" the fish.

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Fish School - by Duck Duck Moose is a multi-activity preschool app with fanciful letters, numbers, and shapes made by colorful fish swimming in schools. The eight activities can help kids practice letters, numbers, shapes, color recognition, matching, and finding differences in fish. The background music in Fish School includes classical renditions of the traditional ABC song and Mozart variations of that song, which are pleasantly soothing. The activities range from watching fish form letters to matching fish to tapping on fish eggs to release a certain number. In the colors game, kids are prompted to tap one swimming fish among many, then the narrator says the color of that fish. The color word also appears on the screen, and then all the fish swimming about transform into that color.

Kids can also free-play with fish by tapping on one or holding a finger on another to speed their swimming or make them grow. One of the handiest features in Fish School is that instead of a menu page, all the different games can be accessed directly from an interchangeable icon at the bottom of each screen. One of most frustrating features is that there's no way to pause the activities. If a kid is tapping through games to find a new one, the previous game continues in the background. Nevertheless, Fish School delivers fun early learning skills practice.

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In Fish School, some activities are better for learning than others. It may be difficult for some kids to make the connection between the abstract fish-made letter, shape, or number and the concrete one. The free-play option will likely be either very fun for kids or pointless. Some kids in kindergarten may feel they're too old for this app that has a decidedly sweet, "little kid" theme. Still, Fish School provides a variety of activities that will keep many kids engaged. The fish are charming to play with.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Fun, colorful fish theme is highly visually creative and engaging. Many games to choose from, including one engaging free-play game in which kids interact with the fish.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Kids play activities such as singing the ABC song and viewing letters formed by fish, finding the different fish, and matching fish, or playing with fish by tapping them to watch them grow or move faster.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

Instructions on Fish School vary. Some are good, while others are spoken in a toddler's voice that is quite difficult to understand. No data provided.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
August D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Ridgewood Elementary School
Eureka, CA
2
Simple introduction and/or review of early learning skills for young children.

Fish School is simple and repetitious, but that's the point. Don't expect grade level kindergarten students to get much out of Fish School for very long (if at all). Pre-K, struggling students, and ELLs, however, may gain great benefit from practicing with this app, especially since each screen is accompanied by a (mostly) clear audio recording of the letter name, number, color, etc. As long as you know what you're getting (basic review of early concepts) and who the target audience is (preschool), Fish School can be a great addition to your classroom app collection. But if you're looking for something that builds a school aged child's skills in math or reading in a challenging and engaging way, you better go fish (sorry, I couldn't help myself).

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