Thursday, June 28, 2012


Mathlands was created by Mamanijo and comprises of 6 games. While most of these games do require some math, this is more of an app for puzzle solvers and logical thinkers than straight-up math lovers. So where does this app fit in for the typical math student? Price: Two games are free, the rest are an in-app purchase for $1.99. There is also another in-app purchase for $0.99 if you want to play all the games together. Careful not to confuse one purchase with the other.

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPad.Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: For kids, and even adults, who like logic problems like these (The Tower of Hanoi is a typical example) this is a great app to flex those muscles. It's done in a kid-friendly way - for example on one of the more typical math word problem games, the word problem is presented within a comic strip, adding a bit of fun to what may be a boring math problem. I like that it adds some "help" materials at the bottom in some of the tasks to help kids solve the problem. For kids who are pretty strong in math already, this is a great way to get them to increase their flexibility in math thinking. However, for kids who may not be great at math and or love these types of puzzles, this app does not offer enough support to win them over. The "help" materials aren't enough to help a kid who doesn't know where to begin. There's a hint part, but it basically just tells you the answer. There's no leveling of hints - to get you going if you're stuck. Also, more kid-friendly information on the strategies would be useful too. Even as an adult, I could solve the games, but for some, I couldn't really tell you what I was doing to get the answer. Being able to express the strategy is important to truly understanding the concept. The app gives a "puzzle history" and provides the solution, but the text is long and reads like a textbook. In sum, I like that these games make kids think about math in a different way, but it doesn't offer enough support to reach kids of all skill levels and for me to think of it as educational/instructional rather than just-for fun. Rating: 3.5/5 (aim for around 7 years).

Balance: The features in each of the games are focused on the task. A bit more instruction could be given for the tasks. For example, in the water task, you have to get a goal number of liters, but that goal goes away. If you go to instructions, the instructions only talk about the goal of the first problem. I'll admit it, I kept forgetting what the goal was - and I couldn't get to that information unless I started over. Rating: 4/5

Sustainability: The games keep getting harder and harder so there's enough challenge, even for adults. If you've purchased the game portion (so it's not just free-play), it will keep track of what level you're on. However, it doesn't really save your times and records. I feel these are the kinds of puzzles that people would enjoy sharing - to tell people how they figured it out. So some sort of social, sharing element would be nice. Rating: 4/5

Parental Involvement: Parents can play too! But in terms of co-playing there's not too much here. Parents can go over the puzzle history with their kids. There's no review or measure of how kids are doing and what they need to work on. I think the leveling of hints would be good so parents get be more involved in the process so it's not just get it or don't get it. Rating: 3.5/5

Total: 15 out of 20 - 4 stars

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