Teaching math to toddlers can be a challenge. However, an experienced educator can turn real world problems into a learning ground for toddlers to learn about basic math concepts. This is the kind of quality that makes me appreciate the Shiny Kids apps: Shiny Party and Shiny Picnic. These apps use events such as birthday parties and family picnics to help juniors learn about geometrical shapes, matching, and sorting.
Last week, the team at Shiny Things released the latest addition to the Shiny Kids series: Shiny Bakery. As you might expect, the app is all about learning through baking cakes and cookies. The topics covered are counting, fractions, and sharing.
The app revolves around Alice the Zebra at her new venture: a bakery shop. She is about to bake the cakes and cookies, and it is up to kids to help.
Once kids have selected the ones they want to bake, the gameplay follows following sequence: measuring and mixing the ingredients, adding flavours, putting the dough into the oven, choosing a template for the cookies, decorating, and sharing them with friends and customers.
A new recipe will be generated for every play session. The recipe consists of three ingredient types, including eggs, sugar, flour, butter, and milk. Players then identify the text and symbol to decide the amount of ingredients required for each step.
For every ingredient added, kids can mix then using the wooden spatula. They can also add any number of flavours into it. They can mix in strawberry and/or banana, or even weird things such as hot dog, pants, and shoes.
Once the cake/cookies are out of the oven, kids can choose a template as a guideline for decorating the cake, or defining the shape of the cookies. After the template is applied, kids can decorate the cake/cookies with coloring pens, glitters, and stickers.
Finally, kids can share cake/cookies with friends and customers. The app will generate a random number of characters who want a piece of the cake/cookies. When the cake/cookies are fairly distributed, the guests will cheer. On the other hand, if there isn’t an equal amount of shares, one or more customers will frown.
Parents Need to Know
Shiny Bakery has a simple interface and intuitive gameplay. The recipe is in the form of text and symbols, allowing juniors ages 3+ to play on their own. Two-year-olds would need their parents to accompany them before they can really grasp the concept behind the activities.
Even though the game allows kids to mix in weird things, such as pants and shoes, into the dough, it is quite strict about the main ingredients of the recipe. Incorrect ingredient types will be rejected when dragged into the mixing bowl, and putting in an incorrect amount of ingredients will cause a splat on the iPad screen. Kids would have to clean up the splat before they can retry that particular step of the recipe.
To truly benefit from the sharing activity, juniors need to understand the concept of fair distribution and some basic counting. As long as you have more cookies than characters, then you can start distributing one cookie to each character. On the other hand, when there isn’t enough cookies for everyone, it’s better to save them in the cookie jar. This way, everybody gets a fair share, and nobody is going to frown.
The sharing activity also introduces juniors to the basic concept of fractions, such as halves, thirds, and fourth. Even though it’s a relatively simple problem to solve on their own, juniors might have problems if they have never encountered such a challenge previously. Parents can use this opportunity to teach their juniors to divide the cake equally so everyone gets a piece.
Note: Shiny Bakery requires iOS 7 to run.
Things I Like
I like that some of the activities are optional. For example, you can skip adding flavours into the mix by immediately using the spatula without adding any flavour first. You can also choose to store all the cake/cookies into the cookie jar instead of giving anybody anything. But if you do, everyone is going to cry.
I also appreciate the design of the Share Again button at the end of the activity. If you choose, instead of the Main Menu button, the app will allow you to repeat the final sharing activity using the same cake/cookies. The app will generate a random number of characters and cookies each time, allowing you to play with different sharing challenges.
Finally, if you play long enough, you will notice that the game difficulty level increases slightly. As you follow the instructions for a recipe, you will see a stack of ingredients that you can use on the left shelf.
Early iterations of the game would only show the correct ingredient types, but as your skills increase the game may show more ingredients to choose from. If you fail to add the correct amount of ingredient for a particular step, the types of ingredients and their amount will lessen, making the game a bit easier.
Shiny Bakery is a nice app that allows juniors ages 3+ to learn about counting, fractions, and sharing while playing and having fun with the baking activities. It offers relatable real world math problems in a playful environment, where juniors can also learn about following instructions and getting to know the different types of baking ingredients and equipments.
App was provided for our honest review.