Common Sense Review
Updated September 2015

Crazy Plant Shop

Shop sim makes Punnett squares playful
Common Sense Rating 4
  • Students rent a plant shop and fill customer orders.
  • Breed plants to match the order requirements.
  • Different orders net students different amounts of gold.
  • Punnett squares help students visualize genetic outcomes.
  • Pay rent at the end of each day.
Pros
A great visual style combined with clever integration of Punnett squares makes learning painless.
Cons
Built-in restrictions limit gameplay and prevent open-ended experimentation.
Bottom Line
Key science skills and competencies serve not as add-ons to the game but core mechanics, allowing genetics learning to occur naturally through play.
Jenny Bristol
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

With beautiful graphics, engaging mechanics, and cheeky inside jokes and surprises, students should be locked in quickly and stick around for the long haul.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Cunning, subtle integration of science means students learn about selective breeding and Punnett squares without feeling like they're getting schooled. Students gets a lesson that sits somewhere between genetics and entrepreneurism.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

There are effective student and teacher guides on the website, as well as occasional tips and a dictionary of terms. There's not much in-game assistance, but most kids won't need it.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

This is one of those experiences that will work equally well as an introduction or follow-up to a more formalized lesson on genetic inheritance. After even one session of play, students should have a good grasp of Punnett squares and selective breeding. The game's website includes complete student and teacher guides, walking everyone through several days of class material. Alternatively, teachers can determine their own curriculum. Class discussion will be helpful as a way to tease out core concepts and solidify them, helping students nail down the implicit learning embedded within play.

Show some examples of possible combinations on a whiteboard or projector, and invite students to make predictions based on their learning from the game. Get kids to talk aloud and describe the game's mechanics, and then use those descriptions to define key terms like dominant and recessive traits, alleles, and phenotype. As an extension activity, have kids create their own fictional plants with dominant and recessive traits and have them breed with other students' plants, imagining what the products would look like and determining the traits they would have.

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What's It Like?

Crazy Plant Shop is an engaging science game that embeds learning about Punnett squares and genetic expression into a shop sim. Students assume the role of a plant shop manager who must breed specific types of plants to fulfill customer orders. To get the right plants, students need to combine and breed plants using knowledge of dominant and recessive traits and Punnett squares. 

With countless variations of plants and genes to be found, students get much practice and will have fun discovering all the different types of plants for their store. The extra layer of the shop sim means students also get to do skills-building inventory management regarding money and breeding machine power on top of the science-based learning. Since they must conserve money and power, students must decide which orders they are able to fill before the end of the day, when they must pay rent on the shop.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Built around the Punnett square and featuring a bunch of fictional plant varieties, Crazy Plant Shop provides opportunities for kids to experiment with how dominant and recessive traits express themselves. Because students will need to keep a large stock of plants with a variety of genes, they'll also find themselves wrestling with more practical concerns: money and space management. Students will need to use strategy to figure out the best way to fill orders before each day is over. The fictional plants are charming and help simplify concepts without distorting the more complicated reality of genetic inheritance in actual plants.

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See how teachers are using Crazy Plant Shop

Lesson Plans