Math is one of those subjects that few enjoy, my daughter included. Despite countless tries at making math interesting she still dreads having to do her math work. As soon as she grasps a concept we have to move on and the cycle of frustation begins again. We’ve tried math-based games in the past but those still ended up being colorfully masked drills. I was excited to try a new family of apps for iPhone, iPod, and iPad from Motion Math. Motion Math was shown to improve test grades 10-15% in a controlled study.
There have been four apps released. All are free with the exception of the HD version of Motion Math for the iPad. You can unlock levels as you play or you can purchase the app to immediately have access to all the levels. For the review, I tested all the apps on our iPad.
- Motion Math – (Grades 3-5) Using a number line, players are encouraged to define the value of fractions, decimals, percents, and pie charts by tilting the device from side to side.
- Motion Math: Zoom! – (Grades 1-6) Players ‘pinch’ the screen to zoom in and out on the screen. They have to properly place the number line then pop the bubble.
- Motion Math: Hungry Fish – (Grades K-4)Feed the fish by adding values in the bubbles to equal to the number displayed on the fish’s belly.
- *NEW* Motion Math: Wings – (Grades 2-5) Compare two values and choose the bigger one by flying the bird into it using tables and multiplication equations.
These games range in difficulty and are as challenging as the player wants them to be. So, I would heed the suggested grade as a minimum but the higher difficulties are pretty stinkin’ hard and will likely challenge even older children. I found the app as a great reinforcement tool and a way to help children increase the speed of mental calculation. During recreation time, my daughter will actually open these apps and play a few levels just for fun. She will use levels a bit below her level but I like the fact that it helps keep the basics fresh and encourages her to try just a bit harder in figuring the problems out, especially since she usually freezes when doing timed drills. I would not recommend this to introduce new concepts but it’s a great supplement what they’ve already learned.
The number will fall from the top of the screen and you need to tilt the device so it lands on the right spot on the number line. If you miss, an arrow will show you if you need to go more to the left or right. If you miss again, the bar will be divided in more precise sections. Stars will appear at the top-left of of the screen giving you a running tally of if you got each number on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd try. The levels progress from the ground up until you reach ‘home’ far out in space. Numbers vary from different forms of fractions, decimals, percent, pie charts, or a combination of each. Controls are easy and graphics are clear and bright. Your child will also learn a number of positive adjectives as they are praised with words like ‘superb’, ‘precise’, ‘on the dot’. I personally like this one best!
Motion Math: Zoom!
Zoom in and out to place the number where it belongs, as you scroll along the number line. The numbers are equated to creatures of different size. Basic whole numbers are represented by frogs, tens are dogs, hundreds are rhinos, and thousands are dinosaurs. Working with decimals you’ll will find tenths are bees while hundredths are fleas. Negative numbers are also available. If you’d like to add a timed element, you can turn on the ‘needle’ that will periodically extend until time is up and the bubble is punctured and popped. When the numbers vary greatly in size (i.e. tenths to thousands) it can be frustrating to zoom in and scroll in the time allotted. Aside from buying the app, I have not found a way to unlock additional levels.
Motion Math: Hungry Fish
This app is solely based on addition. There is one fish with a number on his belly. You need to feed him bubbles with that number for him to grow. If he does not get fed quick enough, he will shrink and shrink until your game is over. The anemones will pop out bubbles of varying value that you can drag and combine to create the desired number. This can be very tricky when the difficulty level is adjusted higher. Every time you grow the fish to its maximum size, you are given a color burst which you can later use to customize your fish. Again, it looks like you need to purchase it for more background and options.
Motion Math: Wings
This is my daughter’s favorite app of the four. The idea is just to compare to values and tilt the device so the bird flies into the larger value. If you miss, the bird will fall a bit while you are shown the correct answer. As the bird continues flying, the missed problems will come up again sometime during the level so the child can learn from their mistakes through repetition. The goal is to fly far enough to reach the next island, at which you are awarded feathers or wood. The feathers can be used to customize your bird while the wood allows you to decorate your nest/birdhouse. These levels can be unlocked through play and there are A LOT of levels, both for beginners and advanced players. Multiplication is used as well and is sometimes combined with the grid graphics.