Review by Alicia Carter, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013
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The Allowance Game Interactive Software

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Cash counting is key in digital board game, but the fun might not last

Subjects & skills
  • Math

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: The focus on managing an allowance means students practice transferrable math skills.

Cons: Things can get repetitive quickly.

Bottom Line: There's valuable money counting and management practice to be had for target grade students, but the lack of variation will limit the game's lifespan.

There's one second-grade math standard covered, but The Allowance Game Interactive Software would serve as good practice for any student needing to learn the basics of money. It's flexible enough to be used by students individually or as an entire class. By running the software on an interactive whiteboard, a teacher could take a full class through it, allowing individual students or small groups to rotate and make decisions and advance play. Advanced younger students and struggling older students could use the game for additional practice. To extend learning, a class that has finished the game could engage in a week-long role-playing scenario running alongside regular class. Teachers could set up a variety of responsibilities for students associated with income and a set of possible expenses, including things to buy and events that occur and require money. Students would need to keep track of their money and use it wisely to buy things they want as well as get them out of financial jams.

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The Allowance Game Interactive Software is a video game version of the board game, and provides a similar experience. Students will get practice counting money and spending it responsibly as they work alone or in teams to move around the board. Depending on where they land, players will receive income or incur expenses and must count out the correct amount of bills and coins. It's fun, featuring a mix of realistic situations and colorful design and detail, but there's only one board configuration. After a few rounds, players may feel the game has become repetitive.

It's a great way to get younger students familiar with the different values of bills and coins and how to count and manage money. Since they'll also need to make change, students will gain exposure to basic math, including part and whole relationships. While it's listed as suitable for grades K-4, it's really more suitable for a narrower focus. Students in second grade are the sweet spot for money learning. Advanced younger students may find the game interesting, and some second-graders or struggling older students could benefit from the skills practice. Older students, however, will become quickly uninterested in the game.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Visual and audio design keeps things peppy, and students will enjoy the game the first few times. But with little game variation, boredom can set in. Younger students will enjoy more than older ones. 

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

There's good money management practice, but it lacks depth. Math is integral and skills are definitely transferrable given the focus on allowance. It's not very adaptive though; the experience is similar each time.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

There's some basic help -- instructions and visual tracking of player progress on the board -- but there aren't opportunities to get help with math concepts during play.

Common Sense Reviewer
Alicia Carter Homeschool instructor

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