Motion Math: Hungry Guppy

App review by
Michelle Kitt, Common Sense Media
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Math game's picky-eater fish teaches addition.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to associate dots with numbers and how to add sums up to the number 5. Though there's only one activity -- feeding the hungry guppy -- the app does a good job of teaching kids that dots represent numbers. After that concept is cemented, kids learn to combine dotted bubbles to create bubbles with higher number values. Eventually, the app teaches kids how to add using numbers with no dots. Motion Math: Hungry Guppy has a carefully programmed progression that teaches kids to count and then to add.

Ease of Play

This app makes good use of audio and visual cues to show kids what to do, both in the brief intro and during gameplay. It's not immediately clear how to switch to a new level, and kids may need extra help when dots turn to number symbols.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Motion Math: Hungry Guppy is a math game designed for the 3- to 7-year-old set. It's a "prequel" to Motion Math: Hungry Fish. This is a good introduction for kids who have difficulty understanding numbers as concepts and/or trouble understanding math language. Number hints spoken aloud help kids practice addition up to the number 5. Motion Math: Hungry Guppy's touch-and-drag functions are simplified for smaller, less-precise fingers, and there are no upsetting outcomes -- kids win but never lose.

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What's it about?

In MOTION MATH: HUNGRY GUPPY, kids touch, drag, and combine one or more dotted (or numbered) bubbles to make a target number for a cute, hungry fish. The guppy will eat only one kind of bubble, such as one with two dots, three dots, or the number 4. As a well-fed guppy grows, players move to the next level. An unfed, hungry guppy shrinks until kids are reminded, for example, "This fish only eats 4's." There are three levels: dots, mixed dots and numbers, and numbers-only. Kids can skip around if needed, and number hints can be turned off. At various points, kids earn rewards or magic beads that can change a guppy’s appearance.

Is it any good?

Kids in the Hungry Guppy age range need lots of practice with the relationship between a number symbol, such as the number 2, and what it represents. This app uses excellent strategies to show them this relationship, moving gradually and purposefully from hands-on thinking (combining groups of dots) to more abstract ideas (adding 1 + 2). Strategic features anticipate where kids might go astray. Dots vary in their arrangement and appearance, so kids focus on a number rather than on matching a dot pattern or a color. Subtle visual and audio cues rein in kids who go rogue. For example, they learn quickly that trying to make mega-food bubbles is futile and not very fun. The app opens to a tutorial level, which means no waiting to play.

The only negative is that this is a one-trick guppy. All kids do is feed the fish, with no variation in the gameplay. To help keep kids interested, the app offers extras such as collecting prizes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Watch kids play to see if they're adding faster and correctly more often. Look for big guppies and fewer reminders.

  • Make index cards of dots and numerals for kids to practice adding sums greater than the number 5.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPad
  • Subjects: Math: addition, counting
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, problem solving, thinking critically
  • Pricing structure: Paid ($2.99/mo.)
  • Release date: April 8, 2013
  • Category: Education
  • Topics: Numbers and Letters
  • Size: 25.60 MB
  • Publisher: Motion Math
  • Version: 1.4
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 4.3 or later
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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