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Website review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2013
Umigo

Umigo

Gloriously goofy explosion of STEM-based games, songs, and vids

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 1 review
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
K–1 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.
Subjects & Skills
Math, Science, Creativity

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Pros: Kids learn critical math and engineering skills by playing silly and exciting games.

Cons: UMIGO could use some more games that are playable on the actual site.

Bottom Line: UMIGO is a deliriously fun way to teach early elementary kids about design and mathematics.

Oh, boy: your elementary students are going to love playing with UMIGO. You can download the curriculum guide, which contains Common Core standards contained within each project pack. You may have to be clear with students about how you want them to spend their time. Otherwise they may spend more time decorating their virtual room and visiting than playing math and engineering games. The music might start to get to you after a while, so headphones may be in order.

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Editor's Note: UMIGO has closed and is no longer available.

UMIGO is an interactive math website for kids aged 5-8. Animated buddies Bean, Dizzy, and Bit guide students through a series of constructivist math tasks. Kids learn about addition, shapes, and basic engineering. The site's scope includes math games, music design, and vehicle engineering, and it is beyond hip. Dig this: funk legend Bootsy Collins masterminds the music, which features folks your kids may not recognize, but the catchy tunes will make them smile anyway.

Kids begin by making their own avatar. By playing games they can earn UMI-Bucks that let them buy parts for their racing vehicle, clothes for their avatar, or decorate their virtual room. In the UMI-verse kids can create music or listen to songs created by other players. There are also science project videos, and a visit to the Fab Lab contains a few hands-on project ideas.

“I See Shapes Everywhere” – Watch a music video that shows shapes in everyday items.

Mix and Fix – Add together UMI’s to fix holes in the road and get to a party.

Party Machine – Match up shapes to power up the epic Party Machine.

Games like Mix and Fix seem pretty straightforward at first, but they have hidden depth. As players progress, levers from one side are locked down. Party Machine also increases in difficulty as kids improve: Once they've mastered basic shapes, kids get introduced to the different types of quadrilaterals. And there's much more than games to enjoy. The 4-minute video "A Cup Fills Up" includes a Western-themed cartoon starring a selection of cowboy cups, cartons, and jugs at a faceoff to determine which posse has more capacity. It's followed by a Schoolhouse Rock-ish song detailing volume and capacity. Delightful!

UMIGO’s biggest strengths are the Music Studio and the Garage. In both cases kids are developing engineering and math skills without ever knowing it. In Vehicle Maker, kids select from a variety of parts to build a vehicle. Options for wheels? A peppermint, a life preserver, and a rolled-up roly poly, for starters. They'll test their design on different tracks to see how it fares, then modify their design and try again. In the Music Studio, students create music by dragging and dropping different instruments and then clicking to adjust the tone. By doing this, kids are building and adjusting patterns until they get something they like. Both the Garage and Music Studio encourage perseverance because if they keep trying they can meet their goal. UMIGO has a lot of potential even though it's still in beta; they're working on a teacher community, more games, and other helpful resources. It would also be nice parents and teachers could track student progress. 

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?

Games and characters are wacky and fun in the bright, boisterous world of UMIGO. It's so fun, kids will be tickled just by the loading screens. Plus, they get to create and share their creations.  

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?

In UMIGO, kids design, test, and then redesign. Kids learn persistence –- a crucial skill in mathematics. A sense of wonder and curiosity is definitely encouraged here as well.

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?

Each game starts with a tutorial. Extension-wise, UMIGO at Home activities give parents fun ways to do math with their kids, and two games are available as mobile apps.


Common Sense reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Community Rating


Featured review by
Kirk P. , Developer
Developer
Legacy High School
Broomfield, United States
Great critical thinking and learning for beginning science and engineers
UMIGO is an excellent introduction to math and science for our smallest yet some of our most inquisitive youngsters. The site is well rounded and accessible and offers several different formats of learning including ebooks, videos, projects, and other activities. Crated in cooperation with the US Department of Education it does offer activities that are linked to national standards but more importantly it has activities that really make students think and apply what they are learning about mathematics t ...
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