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Power to Preschoolers: making Hungry Guppy, a fun math game | Motion Math - Play with numbers!

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Old enough to play, too young to understand

Hungry Guppy began with an observation: very young children, kids as young as 18 months, liked playing our addition and subtraction game Hungry Fish. We saw preschoolers at user tests mesmerized by older siblings feeding the fish and we heard similar reports from parents. The only problem is that these young children usually don’t understand what the symbol 7 means, let alone more advanced numbers: 32, -19, etc. So while the interaction and main game mechanic of Hungry Fish engaged preschoolers, the content was too difficult.

There’s growing research showing that basic math skills are crucial for later development. Notably, Professor David Geary’s five-year longitudinal study at the University of Missouri correlates 1st and 5th grade math skills, controlling for IQ and socio-economic level. From our own survey of the app and software market, parents will struggle to find games that give young children a fluid visual experience for practicing addition. We decided to create a “prequel” to Hungry Fish that instead of numerals (3) would let children add with countable dots (●●●). But would 3-year-olds understand that our fish only wanted, for example, to eat ●●●, not ●● or ●?

If the play is really good they'll strive for understanding, right?

That's the goal. I'm going to see what the 3-year-old thinks next time I visit. :) I love real feedback from the kids.

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