Review by Michelle Kitt, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013
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Motion Math: Hungry Fish

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Six games build mental math skills and promote fact fluency

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Teachers say (19 Reviews)
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K-4 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Clever design makes wise use of touch-screen functions and immediate feedback.

Cons: The game doesn't emphasize the relationship between number symbols and concrete amounts, which early learners may still need.

Bottom Line: Excellent tool to improve mental math, memorization, speed and acuity.

Motion Math: Hungry Fish is designed for a wide grade range of kids, some of whom may have already learned the fundamentals of addition and subtraction. It’s excellent for practice but isn't a substitute for the conceptual understanding that comes from working with concrete materials -- use both practices in tandem. Hungry Fish will help kids memorize certain combinations of two or more numerals, and while computational fluency does allow for flexible methods of computing (i.e., without pencil and paper), it does assume that whatever method kids use is grounded in understanding.

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In Motion Math: Hungry Fish, the title character wants to eat a number shown on its side; kids combine number bubbles to create the food it wants. To subtract, kids combine positive and negative numbers. It’s designed for a wide range of grade levels and with six games and 18 difficulty levels, so kids can use Motion Math: Hungry Fish for years of practice as their math skills grow. The app allows more than one player to register, so multiple kids can play without affecting other players' progress or scores. Levels of difficulty vary by speed and what the fish wants; in the easiest levels, kids simply match number bubbles. Leveling up depends on how fast the fish grows. In Caves games, a Mad Fish eats wrong answers and endangers the hungry fish. Rewards include points and options to customize your fish. To change the difficulty level, pause any game or visit the Options area. The pro version has two types of games for addition, subtraction, and negatives practice and 18 levels of difficulty. It’s based on Common Core standards for math in kindergarten through fourth grade.

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Kids learn addition and subtraction as they combine positive and negative number bubbles to create the number the fish wants to eat. The game makes smart use of touch-screen interactivity. The touch, drag, and combine actions are similar to how kids learn arithmetic with number cubes; here, they'll enjoy the immediate feedback they get from the number-bubble combos and the growing or shrinking fish. In short order, they learn which number combinations get results, and voila! They’re doing mental math.

A few functions help gauge kids' learning. Each game is timed so if the fish is not fed enough, he shrinks until he -- and the player -- no longer survives. But once kids learn how to make correct combinations, there are two ways to advance. If they're speedy about combining numbers and feeding the fish so it grows big pronto, they automatically win the level and advance to the next hardest one. If a player's pace allows the fish to survive the level but not grow really big, he's rewarded with lots of correct number bubbles to end the level.

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Overall Rating

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

The game’s pace is quick and requires little time to get started. Its clean and colorful design doesn't compete with or distract from the number bubbles, which is the most important content on screen.

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

Touch-and-combine interaction reinforces addition concepts. Kids without concrete experience in subtraction may stumble with combining positive and negative numbers to subtract. Immediate feedback helps.

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

A quick tutorial shows kids how to play.The game is responsive to kids' performance and advances them to harder levels as they improve. The Parent Guide explains the game but doesn't suggest extension activities.

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Cathy L. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Northside Catholic Academy
Chicago, IL
A fun way to reinforce math skills

This a good tool to reinforce math skills, it creates an entertaining environment in which students repeat the combination of numbers on the bubbles to equal the number on the fish. This repetition helps to solidify the math skills and increase the recognition of number combinations that equal a set number. The simplicity of the app allows it it be used individually by students, however the game concept prevents them from getting bored with the repetition. The difficulty levels allows the game to remain a challenge to the students as their proficiency increases. The game could be used in math courses as a reward for when students are finished with their assigned work.

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