Teach Through Apps: Motion Math Pizza

Teach Through Apps: Motion Math Pizza

Age level: Early Elementary, Upper Elementary

Description: Motion Math has a reputation for putting out high quality apps that make good use of all the features of the iPad, but Pizza takes the cake. It’s rare to find a game that accurately shows how math is used in the real world and keeps kids engaged. Your learner receives fifty dollars to open a pizzeria. They’re sent to the market to buy ingredients, then get to go to the kitchen to create their first pizza. After creating the pizza, they must name it and choose a price. The app shows them how much it costs to make the pizza as a reference point for setting the price. Now they’re ready to sell!

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As the learner plays, the game increases in complexity. The learner is able to create more pizzas (up to three before they’re required to buy a bigger oven.) The learner must also manage inventory, set prices high enough to cover all costs but low enough that customers will purchase pizza, and work quickly to provide all orders before customers leave. Over time, they are offered the ability to comparison shop between two markets. They can also spend money on upgrades such as an outdoor menu, flower pots, awnings, better ovens, and more.

Skills & Modifications: There are several math skills practiced in this game. Because it is an app, it is difficult to modify it to meet your particular learner’s needs. 

  • Addition & Multiplication – As orders come in, the learner must quickly look at the menu and type in the cost of the customer’s total order. One modification I’ve had to make for some students is to tell them what they’re adding. For example, I’ll say, “what is 3+3.” The student then enters 6 and delivers the two pizzas to the customer. Over time I would like to fade this, but the speed required for the game is much too fast for my student, and he is able to independently complete all other tasks. I also love this game for multiplication because it gives a real-world experience of why multiplication is important when in situations that require speed.
  • Comparing Numbers – This is a great real world application of understanding greater than and less than. After the learner has played several rounds, a second market appears and they can comparison shop. If they make decisions that cause them to lose money, the game will tell them after they’re done shopping, by saying something like what is shown below.

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  • Graphs – After each sales day, a chart appears showing information about the sales. This is a great opportunity to talk about what pizza performed best and what changes might be made. For example, with the chart below, I might ask my students why they think Olive Pep is selling so well. We can hypothesize and try to see what changes we can make to improve sales for the other pizzas.

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  • Managing Information – One of my students was surprised when he suddenly couldn’t sell any more pizza because he had run out of cheese. The learner must look at what ingredients he/she has and make sure there’s enough to meet demand. One simple modification I’ve made for one learner is to specifically point out each ingredient amount while at the market and ask quesitons such as “Which ingredient do you have the least amount of?”

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  • Identifying Emotions – The game also shows customer’s responding to different situations: being frustrated by wait time, complaining about prices, or asking for ingredients that the player does not have available. This is a great opportunity to help learners identify emotions, but the game does not do anything to address how to handle those customers.

Pros: You are able to save multiple games, so more than one learner can create a pizza shop and progress through the game. The game is highly motivating for several of my learners and is a great way to practice real-world applications of skills related to working with speed, using money, comparison shopping, customer service, and more. The built in reward system of receiving more ingredients is also highly motivating for my learners. All of these skills are essential and frequently take many opportunities to practice for learners with autism and other developmental delays to master. If your learner is motivated by the ipad or by this app in particular, it is an excellent tool for introducing such skills.

Cons: I wish I was able to set a skill level or choose modifications within the app. It’d be wonderful to set the time before a customer leaves, and systematically decrease that time as my learner becomes more adept at the game. Over several sales days, the game becomes so complex that I actually encouraged my learner to start a new store. This way it reset the skill level. Fortunately, he’s highly motivated by the game and was interested in doing that, but for most learners the game eventually becomes too fast for them to play. I hope that Motion Math will correct this in the future. For these reasons I was worried about introducing it to my students, but I still think the app has great value despite the drawbacks.

Ideas of extending the lesson: Set up a classroom store for your learners! All aspects of this game can be recreated with real foods. This allows you to easily modify for speed and ingredients to meet the needs of your individual learners. You can also branch out and do items such as ice cream. You don’t have to sell real food, but can have the learner create paper versions or use toy food. If you want to do real food, a lemonade stand or a cookie stand would be great possiblities.

Cost: $3.99 You should invest in this game if: you are an elementary math teacher, you are a parent seeking real-world applications of math, you are working with learners who struggle with work skills and would like a low-stress way to introduce some of these skills.

ABLLS: G42, G46,


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