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LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Cooking Recipes on the Road
Pros: The game offers a wide range of skills for growth and learning, and lots of different activities to keep things interesting.
Cons: Players can't customize their avatar characters.
Bottom Line: Delightful cooking game incorporates math in fun and exciting ways.
Because of the skill range, this is a great title for use with students on the younger end of the spectrum who need more of a math challenge -- but it's also a wonderful way to engage other kids in math. It's a nice reward for kids who have completed independent math work. Pair it with in-class cooking exercises and entrepreneurial activities. LeapFrog.com has some activity suggestions that would pair nicely with this title as well.
Kids take over a food truck with help from a parrot friend. They take orders from customers, choose ingredients from the shelves (matching a list), prep the ingredients, cook the food, assemble the food, and serve it to the customer. Sometimes, they will need to clean and organize the truck. They also have the chance to buy new truck designs and decor, as well as new recipes. The recipes vary in healthiness, and include salad, sushi, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, chicken soup, and even a spaghetti sandwich. The recipes introduce kids to a some great ingredients, such as seaweed, chili powder, and teriyaki sauce.
Kids will use a range of math skills to succeed in their cooking adventures. Younger players will be counting as they weigh out food, flipping sandwiches on the griddle when the thermometer reaches a certain general area, and recognizing which measuring cup is the most/least full. More advanced players may need to add or remove food, based on a customer order (e.g., the dish calls for 3 ounces of lettuce, but the customer would like 4 more; how many ounces do they need?). They will need to find an exact location/temperature on a thermometer, which eventually is numbered in increments. Players will also need to recognize the hottest or coolest thermometer or the measuring cup that has "neither the most nor the least." Sometimes, they will be asked to find the measuring cup that is two-thirds full (without labels) among a set of three choices. Kids might even need to double an order. There's weighing and measuring, counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, decimals, and percentages. While all of that is going on, kids are introduced to some cooking basics, including kitchen safety. If their order is just right, they'll earn bigger tips. The game follows a progression, but it's less about a story and more about pleasing hungry customers.
Cooking and math naturally go hand in hand, so this game presents a great way for kids to experience real-world math. The math skills start easy and ramp up to some serious number-crunching. If a kid ends up over his or her head, the game will gently prompt the student to get to the right answer, sometimes giving progressively more direct prompts. While kids can continue without stellar math performances, their tips will suffer, so it behooves them to try their best. This is a lot of fun, and it's kept interesting by the chances to unlock new locations and recipes.