Review by Michelle Kitt, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2013
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Motion Math: Hungry Guppy

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Kids have a splashing good time learning addition with this colorful guppy

Subjects & skills
  • Math

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: They've done their research; the game is well-attuned to the learning and behavioral traits of its audience.

Cons: This app is a one-trick guppy -- all you do is feed it, which can get dull over time.

Bottom Line: Moves kids from concrete ideas to abstract concepts in a fun, appropriately paced manner.

Motion Math: Hungry Guppy is best used one-on-one by the student. This app could be part of an iPad rotation.

Teachers could create a fun game of passing out index cards with dotted bubbles and make one person the fish. Kids would have to join together to form groups that could then be eaten by the fish.

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Kids touch, drag, and combine one or more dot and/or number bubbles to make food for a hungry guppy. The guppy eats just one kind of food, which is indicated on its side -- e.g., two dots, three dots, or the number 4. A well-fed guppy grows, and players move to the next level. An unfed, hungry guppy shrinks until kids are reminded “This fish only eats 4s.” There are three levels: dots, mixed dots and numbers, and numbers only. Kids can skip around if needed, and number hints can be turned off. At various points, kids earn rewards or magic beads they can use to change a guppy’s appearance.

Full Disclosure: Motion Math and Common Sense Education share a funder; however, that relationship does not impact Common Sense Education's editorial independence and this learning rating.

Motion Math: Hungry Guppy is very good at teaching kids that a group of dots represents numbers. It also provides a hands-on method of teaching beginning addition.

The game features addition of sums up to 5. Strategic features anticipate where kids might go astray. Depending on which of the three levels your students are playing on, each fish displays its preferred food as dots, number symbols, or both. The pattern and color of dots on each fish is the same, which could tempt kids to choose bubbles because they match, not because they contain the right amount. But in harder levels, dots combine in different patterns and are different colors, teaching kids to focus on number instead of appearance

The game includes several smart features that take into account the habits of 3- to 7-year-olds:

  • Touch and drag functions are simplified for smaller, less precise fingers.
  • The number hints are spoken aloud; these can be turned off.
  • There are no upsetting outcomes; kids win but never lose.
  • Subtle visual and audio cues rein in kids who go rogue. Kids learn quickly that trying to make mega-food bubbles is futile and not very fun.
  • A tutorial level launches at the beginning, meaning there's no waiting to play.
  • The in-game rewards of collecting prizes or changing how the guppy looks don’t intrude on the educational aspect of the game.
Overall Rating

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

The colorful aquatic backdrop is a fun and relaxed environment for learning. Removing "losing" from the game reduces frustration, and collecting small prizes provides nice breaks.

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

Kids touch and drag bubbles to combine dots, reinforcing addition in physical and mental ways. The game is self-paced; how kids play determines when they're ready to move on to harder content, such as number symbols and greater sums.

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

If kids add correctly and the guppy eats enough, it grows. Otherwise, it shrinks. A brief tutorial shows how to combine bubbles. English is the only language, but non-native speakers could easily pick up gameplay.

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Gilda G. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
The Classical Academy
Escondido CA, United States
Colorful, engaging, game to learn addition/subtraction fact families
This is a math fact practice app, but it focuses on the fact family aspect, which I love. It helps students visualize the pairs of addends or factors that equal the sum or product. It's super simple to use, which means students can quickly begin playing. It's possible that they could get burned out on it, since it doesn't have a lot of variety, but if you mix it in with a playlist of other math fact practice apps, I think it's great. It's simplicity makes it perfect for an iPad station where kids work independently. One great feature: You can turn off the music, so students do not have to wear headphones while playing. One drawback: No discount when purchasing through the Volume Purchasing Program. Bummer.
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