Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

Go Nini

Important healthy eating lesson might leave kids hungry for more
Common Sense Rating 3
Pros
The "go," "slow," and "whoa" categories are a great, kid-friendly way to teach different food categories.
Cons
A broader list of example foods and better integration between the gameplay and learning content could go a long way.
Bottom Line
It's a great concept with an important message, but learning potential is limited without further input and support from an informed adult.
Mieke VanderBorght
Common Sense Reviewer
Researcher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Design is simple and appealing. Nini is a cute and funny character with a potentially off-putting raspy voice. Gameplay is fairly repetitive, and kids might easily get bored after a few rounds.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

The healthy choices message is important, but delivery is a bit superficial. Kids will learn the importance of "go," "slow," and "whoa" foods, but they might not learn which foods fit into which categories.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Gameplay is very simple, and the directions are easy to understand. There are also some great suggestions for activities and discussions that can round out the message.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can use Go Nini as an amusing introduction to the terms "go," "slow," and "whoa" when describing foods; it could serve as the spark for a great discussion about nutrition. Teachers will need to follow up with more in-depth exploration of what exactly "go," "slow," and "whoa" foods are, as well as how to put different foods into these categories.

Go Nini is good for individual play, or for group play with a teacher to lead discussion about food choices. Teachers can help kids analyze the snacks they eat in class, or they could also facilitate activities where students make "go" foods together as a class. As a great way to bring the discussion home, teachers could also prepare handouts with information for kids and their families.

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What's It Like?

In Go Nini, kids help the cute character, Nini, choose healthy foods to stay strong and make it through the day. In the opening sequence, Nini describes three different kinds of foods: "go" foods (okay to eat anytime, and give lots of energy), "slow" foods (okay to eat sometimes, and give a little energy), and "whoa" foods (okay to eat once in a while, and give little energy). In order to stay healthy and strong and play all day, Nini needs to eat at least three "go" foods per day.

Kids are asked to follow Nini on a walk while they tap the screen to make him jump over obstacles. Every so often, they'll stop and choose foods for Nini: breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. Nini responds to healthy foods by moving faster, and to less healthy foods by acting sick and moving slowly. After each day of eating at least three "go" foods, Nini grows bigger and stronger, and kids level up (there are a total of three levels).

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Is It Good For Learning?

Go Nini has a great message. Dividing foods into "go," "slow," and "whoa" categories is a nice way to help kids understand the differences between healthy and less healthy foods. This concept also emphasizes the role of moderation (it's okay to eat a cookie every once in a while). Kids will likely learn these terms and definitions easily. However, the example foods in the game are limited, and kids might not learn exactly how to tell the difference. Discussion of how to categorize many different foods -- not only the examples in the game -- would be a great addition.

While Go Nini's overall message is very positive, the details may seem misleading and unrealistic to some kids. According to Go Nini, kids could have water for breakfast, an apple for lunch, water again for dinner, and orange slices and broccoli for snacks, and have energy to "stay healthy and play" all day. Also, after eating "slow" or "whoa" foods, Nini is immediately stricken with low energy and a sick feeling, yet he still jumps just fine in the game. It could be helpful to see Nini change more realistically. Last, while the gameplay may be fun, it's not entirely relevant to the learning message. Nini simply jumps over seemingly random objects -- the jumping could be more relevant if, after eating too many "whoa" foods, Nini didn't have the energy to keep jumping over objects.

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See how teachers are using Go Nini