Review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2012

Spaghetti Marshmallows

Play with your food in cute but tricky construction app

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Teachers say (1 Review)
$avg_user_learning_rating
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Grades
3-6 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Engaging open-ended gameplay with good design and layout provide easy learning.

Cons: Tricky controls, inability to delete pieces, and the lack of solid building concepts are disappointing.

Bottom Line: While it's an appealing and creative construction game, there's some room for practical improvements.

In the classroom, students could work individually or cooperatively in groups to build structures (such as a truss bridge or geodesic dome) using real-life spaghetti sticks and marshmallows. They could also experiment at home, creating a successful structure and then re-creating it in front of classmates.

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Spaghetti Marshmallows is an app that challenges kids to build simple structures to reach a target circle using marshmallows as connectors and sticks of raw spaghetti as supports. As they experiment with gravity and different constructions, kids get a chance to predict what might work, test out their theories, and try again as many times as they wish.

Kids get an allotment of marshmallows and spaghetti in each level. They tap for marshmallows and drag for spaghetti, watching for the circle and sound that indicate a connection is made. If a structure is unstable, it begins to sway and eventually falls down (sometimes rather slowly). If kids pass any part of their structure into one or more target circles, they pass the level. Spaghetti connectors turn red when they receive too much tension, warning kids to shore them up to prevent a collapse. At the end of each level, players can switch to sandbox mode and keep building for the fun of it, or go on a playful rampage and destroy their structure by dropping giant red blocks on it.

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Every attempt and every solution is unique, so creativity and imagination are required to succeed at Spaghetti Marshmallows. Kids will love the tasty building blocks and should have lots of fun experimenting, and elements like a marshmallow-eating frog in the “Ribbit!” level provide a responsive environment. There are a couple of problems: The menu text can be hard to read and select, and attaching spaghetti connectors can be tricky –- you have to get it right the first time. There's no way to delete individual pieces except for the single undo button, so kids will need to restart the more difficult levels often.

Kids can save screenshots of solutions to the app's folder on the device, but there's no data feature like materials used or solution time. While the tutorial helps with basic gameplay, an introduction to building concepts would improve learning potential and reduce the chances of frustration for beginners.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

This building game challenges players with cleverly designed levels. Players can switch to Sandbox mode or or go on a playful Rampage. The app is a little sparse graphically, but superb physics and fun sound effects help to pick up the slack.

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

Kids are challenged to come up with creative solutions as they learn the basics of structural engineering. They can make predictions and test out theories. Including a tutorial about building concepts would make this a stronger learning tool.

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

Solutions can be saved in screenshots, but there's no data feature for materials used or solution time. Controls are tricky, and the inability to delete individual pieces is likely to frustrate some kids. 


Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Jennifer C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Carson High School
Carson City, NV
3
Virtual building combined with logical thinking.

A fun platform. Endless creative opportunities for kids to explore. Could be really fun to use to model the thinking process as a teacher for the students, then allow students to come articulate and demonstrate their thinking at the smartboard in front of the whole class. Additionally, students could work in pairs or small groups to construct, this would add an interactive element to the process. Finally, students could work individually to determine their best design for homework, then return to share with the class.

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