Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mathrat

Mathrat was created by boaneo and targets counting and basic math skills. For each problem you get correct, you are awarded a piece of virtual candy. It is called Mathrat because every few problems or so, a rat will comes and steals a piece of candy unless you tap on the rat before he can get to the candy. How unfair! Price: $2.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPad.Requires iOS 4.0 or later.


Developmental appropriateness: There are six levels to this game - starting from counting to simple addition, subtraction, and finally larger and smaller than - all fit for a beginning math learner. I like that the app presents each problem with coins that you can count. So for counting, it would ask for 7, and you would move 7 coins to the purse. It's actually a bit too easy cause the app counts the coins aloud as you put them in the purse so you really just have to keep adding until you hear the right number. Anyway, coins, or in the math world, "manipulatives" (objects used to solve or illustrate math problems/concepts) are often used to help kids with math. However, as the problems get harder, the app doesn't allow you to use them as flexibly as manipulatives are designed to be. For example, to solve 2+3, the app allows you to move 5 coins to the purse, counting them 1 to 5. Often, kids would make a group of 3, then a group of 2, and then count all of them, or better yet, start with the group of 3, and add on the other group, counting, 4, 5. This app does not really highlight the grouping. Sure, you can kinda form groups before putting them into the purse, but overall, the design does not encourage the use of these types of strategies. Also, the app does not allow you to kinda have a "final answer" or to review before submitting. So although I like that the chips are there, which is more than a lot of apps that just present the problem and ask for an answer, I wish it took it a bit farther. Also, for some rounds, instead of chips, you are just presented with numbers - why not put them in order, like a number line, which is often helpful for kids. And for the quantity comparisons, it would ask for something like 2 < ? and all the numbers are at the bottom. So basically almost all the numbers are correct answers, but you are only allowed to put one. That's kinda weird and potentially confusing. Rating: 3.5/5 (aim for around 5 years)


Balance: Now about the rat. OK, I get that this is just a little fun element. Kids don't want their hard earned candy stolen, so the rat keeps them on their toes. It might be funny. On the other hand, it introduces "stealing" and if kids find it funny that the rat is stealing the candy, they might imitate that. That's really a more minor point. What I'm more worried about is that it may be distracting. Instead of concentrating on the problem, kids might be worried about the rat coming to get their candy - which they earned fair and square, or the rat might break their concentration if it sneaks in during a problem. 


Update: There is a setting that allows you to turn off the rat, or just have him appear, without stealing the candy.


Also, most of the graphics are very kid friendly, but then the hand that presents the problems and the voice over seem to not match. Rating: 3.5/5


Sustainability: The plus is that there are 6 levels that get harder with different tasks. You also earn medals for how well you performed on each level. There is also suppose to be a settings and reporting feature - it does not appear on my version. I see now that there is an update for this specific fix. I updated, and still don't see it, maybe the update did not go through? In any case, the goal appears to simply be to unlock all the levels and earn all the top medals. Rating: 4/5


Parental Involvement: Pretty much a one person game. Parents can review the game stats. Rating: 3/5


Total 14 = 3 stars


Disclosure - I received this app for free for review purposes.

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