Friday, December 30, 2011

Team Umizoomi Math: Zoom into Numbers

Team Umizoomi Math: Zoom into Numbers is an app from Nickelodeon who also creates the show Team Umizoomi. I must admit that I do not have cable so have not seen the show, but I know that this show has become very popular (Brad Pitt dressed up as one of the characters for Halloween a couple years ago!)**. So let's see what all the hype is about. Price: $2.99
Device Requirements: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad; Requires iOS 4.0 or later

Developmental Appropriateness: This app is designed to teach fundamental math concepts for preschoolers (finally, an app with a target age!). It contains 5 games that target counting, number identification, number comparison, simple addition/subtraction, and a number line game. These games are right on - these are the skills that preschoolers should be learning. The instructions for each game are very clear (although they are only verbal, so it requires sound), and they require very simple actions such as tapping objects on the screen and tilting the device. One feature that's really great is that if you get an answer wrong, the characters will provide a series of prompts or hints until you get it right. It doesn't simply just move onto the next item like many other games. In the addition/subtraction game, if a child continues to answer incorrectly, he or she can then drag the balloons that they need to add up one by one to count them or tap on them to "pop" the right number to subtract them. Using objects to help figure out the problem is a good strategy for preschoolers to use when first learning to add and subtract. My one complaint is that the number comparison game is not quite teaching number comparison, but more number identification. In this game, the child is presented with two numbers (say, 9 and 5) and is asked to drive a car under one of the numbers (say, 5). Number comparison would be if the child was asked to drive the car under the larger or smaller number. Otherwise, I think this app is absolutely on target for preschoolers. Rating: 4.5/5 (aim for around 4 years of age)

Balance: I think this app does it right. The game starts you out in the "Umi City" where you choose what game to play. While in this city, you can tap on numerous hotspots that reveal hidden objects and or animates the object. You swipe the screen to move around the city finding the hotspots. But once you start a game, there are no more frivolous hotspots. The interactive features within the games are features that are necessary to solve the math problem. This way, kids still get to press on all the cool hotspots, yet not be distracted by them when it comes time to learn. Rating: 5/5

Sustainability: These games are cute and fun. You earn badges are the completion of each game. Earning enough badges will win you the key to the city. These features should lead to some repeat playing - at least until kids master the games. The key strength for this game is that it stems off a popular television show. Kids know and like the characters and that should keep them coming back. Rating: 4.5/5

Parental Involvement: The games are essentially one player games and are simple enough that a preschooler can navigate them on their own. Parents can watch along and provide some help, especially on the addition/subtraction game. But since the game provides prompting on its own, parental guidance is probably only needed for true beginners and those who are really struggling with the concepts. A unique opportunity here is that parents who have children who watch the show can help link concepts between the tv show and the game. Kids will probably mention the show when playing the game or vice versa. Parents can use this opportunity to reinforce what they learned on the show and game. Rating: 4/5

Total: 18 out of 20= 5 stars

** Correction: Brad Pitt dressed up as a Yo Gabba Gabba character, not Team Umizoomi


  1. Alas, this is now $4.99 for iPads :(

  2. It's now 3.99 on my iPhone, but I felt the rating warrented the buy. And so far my 5 year old daughter loves it. She's really excited about earning the badges.

  3. Ugh, sorry - I'll have to pay more attention to whether I'm buying on sale or not!

  4. The number comparison game (the umicar game) does eventually teach number comparison. The early levels are number recognition, the more advanced levels are number comparison. You have to play through several times in order to level up and see the most advanced curriculum.

    1. Thank you for mentioning that - I wonder why they decided to do that as number comparison is a skill that preschoolers should be able to do. In any case, this is great app!


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