Bottom line: Lots of content put together in an interactive and fun manner, but a couple of stumbling blocks prevent this app from attaining Top Pick status. (Free trials linked below.)
In simple terms, Studypad's Splash Math Grade 1 is math tests made interactive, but before you think "boring" let me outline for you some of its key features and I'm sure it will quickly become apparent why I like the app so much.
- It contains 13 chapters of material, covering over 185 math skills. This is a lot of content.
- The quizzes are interactive, colorfully presented and not too lengthy. They are also not timed and I love this feature; it gives the parent or teacher the chance to discuss the questions with the child to ensure they understand the concepts presented rather than simply learning them by rote.
- For areas that are a challenge for the child there is a practice mode which takes the pressure off them even further.
- The rewards are fun - correct answers earn points which can be exchanged for sea creatures and supplies in an interactive virtual aquarium.
- The level of difficulty of all the skill levels can be customized and the app also takes into account the child's performance, adjusting the quizzes accordingly.
- Multiple users are supported and weekly progress reports can be emailed directly from the app.
With quality and in-depth content presented in a thorough but age-appropriate fashion, customizable and including progress tracking, this app is ideal for both educational use as well as for supplementary practice and reinforcement at home. At $5 for the iPhone/iPod and $10 for the iPad, however, I would love to see StudyPad to work on the following areas:
- Expand beyond testing to further support teaching and understanding. The visual aids used in this app are excellent and really do a great job of teaching the concept of one-to-one correspondence, for example. Where the app is weakest is in the case of a child who doesn't know the answer to a question. Firstly, there are no hints provided. I'm a big fan of errorless learning, especially where young children are concerned.
- The child's only option if they don't know the answer is to guess, which is where we bump up against a second problem - if an answer is incorrect the starfish grimaces, a red cross appears and the next question comes up. In play mode, the child doesn't find out what the correct answer was, let alone how it was arrived at. In practice mode, they are allowed to keep guessing until they arrive at the correct answer, but there is a lost teaching moment there.
- There are no audio directions or cues. Most kids this age are emerging readers and yet the app expects them to not only read but understand some pretty complex directions involving items like "pictographs".
- Only U.S. currency is supported; I hope other major currencies are added in future updates.
- The child is given access to anvils to drop on the crabs in the aquarium. I'm not sure why and frankly I find it a bit disturbing.
In summary, this is a very good app which has the potential to be great. If you want something that will provide you with material for you and your child to work on at home together, this would be a great choice. In an educational context, if the student is performing well and they are a confident reader, they could likely play with this app unsupervised.
This review was written by Deanne Shoyer who is a recovering accountant, blogging at www.smallbutkindamighty.com.