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Divide by Sheep
Pros: Genuinely fun, kids won't even realize how much critical thinking they're doing.
Cons: Even though it's cartoonish, gore may be off-putting for some children.
Bottom Line: A great game for math problem-solving, but be careful choosing your audience.
Teachers can use Divide by Sheep to motivate students to engage in creative and critical thought. This is a basic math puzzler, but it's cute, fun, and very unique. Students will likely enjoy playing through the puzzles. You don't have to complete every puzzle perfectly to advance, and the challenges are complex enough that even older students will probably have fun with them.
Make sure to disable the blood if you're using this in class, and discuss with students whether the slight violence is really necessary to the game. You can also suggest the game to parents, but provide a careful explanation of the gore involved.
In Divide by Sheep, a cute but dark math game, the Grim Reaper has gotten lonely and is looking for companions -- sheep, primarily, but later he also takes wolves and even the ghosts of sheep. After Grim unleashes a great flood to drag the sheep under, the become stranded on small islands and need your help to get to safety. Life rafts can only accept certain numbers of sheep, and you have to jump them from island to island until they're grouped in the correct amounts. This math puzzle game has you adding, subtracting, and dividing sheep by any means available, whether it's by putting them together or dumping some off.
Later in the game, there are additional challenges: wolves that eat the sheep but then become too heavy to move themselves, exploding islands, and -- perhaps troubling to younger students and some parents -- lasers that cut the sheep in half, making them take up two squares on an island (they are duct-taped back together on the raft). Parental controls allow you to turn off the blood, if desired. Visual tips show players which types of moves can be done, and stages can be reset without penalties.
Divide by Sheep is a unique game, and that alone is enough to make kids sit up and take notice with so many traditional and dry math activities out there. It also happens to be a lot of fun, and the challenges will make kids really exercise their critical thinking skills: eventually, players will have to start thinking ahead a couple moves to solve one puzzle and have enough sheep left over for the next.
That said, the game is not for everybody. The graphics are very cute and cartoonish, but there's some slightly gory action in the game, which makes it inappropriate for some young children (although the cartoon graphics do mitigate the effect). Although Divide by Sheep is fun and engaging, it is up to individual teachers to determine if its appropriate for the classroom.