Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2013
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Go Nini

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Important healthy eating lesson might leave kids hungry for more

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Health & Wellness

Skills
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Pre-K–K
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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.

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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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).

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.

Overall Rating

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

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?

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?

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.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Barbara T. , Other
Other
Teaches the concept of making healthful food choices in a game setting.
This app is only valuable as a part of a larger instructional unit on nutrition and healthful eating. I used it with five different kindergarten classes and provided a rich introduction so that the app would have more resonance with my students. I do not think it would be as effective as a stand-alone app to teach these concepts. After a brief introduction to the app itself, the students were able to navigate through it fairly easily. About 30% of the users had the app freeze. These students had to start over and they were frustrated by this. I had to include a side lesson about double-clicking the home button and clearing open apps so the students could learn to troubleshoot the problem on their own. The app doesn't have a lot of depth to it, but my students did make some connections to the Go foods (fruit and vegetables) and the healthful snack our school provides every day. Go Nini does help reinforce the concept of categorizing food in a way that is easy for kindergartners to understand. We disagreed with the placement of some foods, but the app did prompt larger discussions about things like why an apple is a Go food, but apple juice is a Slow food. I don't think that my students would seek out this app frequently, but for occasional use they would find it entertaining. Only a few students gave this app a thumbs down rating, but that was mostly because of the app freezing.
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