Common Sense Review
Updated August 2014

Grandpa's Workshop

Basic math games housed in sweet theme could use coherence
Common Sense Rating 3
  • Kids join grandpa in his workshop.
  • Use the measuring tape to measure boards.
  • Learn vocabulary by handing grandpa the tool he asks for.
  • Choose which color to paint Grandpa's finished project.
  • Grandpa gives lots of encouragement -- doing a little jig, saying "good job," or asking for a high five -- for a job well done.
Grandpa gives lots of positive encouragement, games are nicely designed, and (most) have good learning content.
Random game cycling without a common thread makes coverage of learning content feel superficial.
Bottom Line
An appealing package of simple, engaging games for light practice with basic math skills.
Mieke VanderBorght
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

The "helping grandpa" theme is appealing, and kids will enjoy seeing grandpa dance a jig and give high-fives. Quiz-like games are fun, but the limited number of games can make play seem repetitive.

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

Kids practice number and observation skills, measuring, fractions, puzzles, and vocabulary. They learn through trial and error; with little support or relevance, coverage of learning content feels superficial.

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

Play is easily accessible, and kids get lots of gentle encouragement, although little to no help is offered for choosing correct answers. Adults can choose which games are included, but no progress tracking is available.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Kids can play individually for extra practice with some basic math skills. Little instruction is offered, so teachers will have to cover the concepts in class or let kids learn through trial and error. There's no way for multiple kids to play at their own pace on the same device, so have one kid cycle through to build a clubhouse, and then start over with the next kid -- or have each kid choose a different clubhouse feature.

A better plan would be to use the game's theme as a springboard for hands-on learning extensions in the classroom or at home. Talk about grandparents, have kids write or tell about their relationship with their grandparents (or aunts, uncles, extended family, etc.), and then encourage kids to do a project at home with their special person. Or you might use the construction theme to get kids involved in a classroom building project. Design and build a new bookshelf or cardboard castle. Use tools, measure, cut, put together, paint, and more (with close adult supervision, of course).

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What's It Like?

In Grandpa's Workshop, kids help Grandpa with his building projects. Kids endlessly cycle through seven games -- some quiz-like, some not -- each focusing on different learning content. Most games involve early math skills, like numbers and counting (e.g., choose the jar with the requested number of screws), measurement (use a measuring tape to measure wooden boards), or fractions (e.g., cut wooden boards into halves). Kids also paint finished projects, practice tool vocabulary, and put together puzzles. Videos showing building techniques (using a level, laying bricks, cutting with a jigsaw), and breaks to choose pieces for a customized clubhouse (foundation, roof, windows, and clubhouse sign) are interspersed throughout the game cycle. In Settings, adults can choose which games to include or exclude.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Kids naturally love helping adults do grown-up things, and they often have a special relationship with their grandparents. So the premise of getting kids working with (virtual) grandparents is a great idea. Simple games and clean graphics and design make play accessible to most kids.

The learning experience would be so much more rewarding if games had more depth and/or helpful hints and advice (although there is one nice hint for the measuring game). The experience would improve most dramatically, however, with some sense of coherence. Why not help grandpa actually build something? Measure and cut boards, count screws, put the pieces together in the correct way, hand over the right tools, choose a paint color, and -- Voila! -- you've made a bookshelf. Without this common thread and logical order, games feel disjointed, superficial, and even confusing (why does grandpa need four screws?). Natural stop points, progress trackers, and other enhanced features would also be nice. 

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See how teachers are using Grandpa's Workshop