How I Use It
I use sushi monster before units requiring composition and decomposition of numbers. In other words, any units where I want students to think less about the facts and more on the concept of the types of problems they are encountering.
I may assign them sushi monster for homework because I like my students working on numeracy, base 10 skills, and fluency at home while I work on concepts. I also give them time at the end of lessons to work on sushi monster if they finish every thing else. We'll talk through the game and constantly ask "why" and "what should you do". It's a great tool for generating math discussion.
First off, sushi monster is challenging even for the advanced learner. However, with the implementation of Common Core, this is exactly the type of thinking that we are asking our kids to engage in. Kids not only have to think about what numbers they can add or multiply together to get to a single total, they have to plan ahead to the next few numbers that have to be created. It's an incredibly challenging game of math chess, thinking moves ahead in order to feed the sushi monster. That said, after a while, kids can get frustrated. Unless they see the "structure" and "patterns" in the numbers themselves and come up with a strategy that works, it may lead to an early end to the game by the student itself.