Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2015
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Shape Arts: Geometry Creations

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Tangram-style puzzles spur creativity, lack structured learning path

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K-3
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Pros: Kids will have fun learning about shapes as they use problem-solving skills and spatial reasoning.

Cons: Learning is unstructured, which may be problematic for some kids, and progress can't be tracked.

Bottom Line: The puzzles are fun to solve and create; the option to follow a structured learning path would help educators make connections in the classroom.

Since gameplay is unstructured, Shape Arts: Geometry Creations is best suited as an enrichment tool. During a geometry unit, provide kids with time at the start or end of a lesson to complete puzzles individually. Then, gather as a class and discuss the attributes of the shapes found in each puzzle and how these attributes contributed to the overall shape of each puzzle. Challenge kids to create their own unique puzzles using colored pencils, and then hang the puzzles around the classroom. Have the class go on a gallery walk and use a sticky note to leave at least one constructive comment about any of their classmates' puzzles.

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Shape Arts: Geometry Creations is a set of interactive, tangram-style puzzles. The game is organized into six puzzle categories: My Puzzlets, New, Popular, People, Creatures, and Easy. In My Puzzlets, kids can use up to seven shapes to create, save, and share puzzles. The New and Popular categories contain the latest-and-greatest puzzles created by other players. The People category contains puzzles of people doing various activities like walking, jumping, and boating, and the Creatures category includes puzzles of fish, birds, and four-legged critters. The Easy category is a collection of moderately easy shape puzzles. Kids can earn marbles for completing and creating puzzles, and their marbles are displayed on a separate rewards page. A parent section includes a summary of learning goals, a few teaching tips, contact information, ads for other apps, and a privacy policy.

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As they play, kids can learn about two-dimensional shapes, spatial reasoning, and shape attributes like the number of edges and angles in each shape. They have to drag and rotate shapes so they fit (without overlapping) into puzzles made of various configurations of the shapes. Kids practice problem-solving as they figure out how to manipulate the puzzle pieces and lay the foundation for understanding more complex concepts like nets of three-dimensional shapes. The option to create their own puzzles empowers kids and boosts creativity. If kids struggle, they can access visual cues and hints. Constructive feedback is given for incorrect placement and/or rotation of shapes.

While gameplay is fun, it's not always apparent what kids are learning, and it's tough to progress through the puzzles in a way that promotes particular skills or develops specific knowledge. It's definitely fun, and it could be a great boon to teachers who want to extend kids' creativity and understanding of shapes and how they fit together. Just keep in mind that explicit details about the shapes and the geometry concepts at hand will have to be layered on -- it's not baked in here.

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Overall Rating

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

The options to solve and create puzzles will keep kids busy and entertained. New puzzles are added regularly.

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

Kids use problem-solving skills and spatial reasoning while learning about shapes. Gameplay is open-ended, but some kids might benefit from a more structured learning path.

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

Illustrated instructions and easily accessible hints help kids solve puzzles. Audio support is lacking, and it's not clear how kids should progress through the activities.


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