Bottom Line: An educational app that actually makes elementary school aged kids want to rattle off math facts over and over. Needs an update though.
I admit it. I have a bad case of ticket envy every time I go to Chuck E. Cheese or Dave and Buster's and see people on the game floor with endless miles of coupons they won by mindlessly feeding tokens into machines. My children are even worse and demand ever increasing credits on their player cards. Now, however, I can feed their insatiable need for plastic trinkets and glow in the dark doodads by getting them to practice math facts on the iPad.
Whacky Math Facts, a universal app from GabySoft, takes dull and boring recitation of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts and makes it into a fast-paced, exciting whack-a-mole arcade game complete with tickets and a prize store. The concept is simple but effective.
Users enter their names and choose one of the four subjects on which to work. Next they specify what numbers they want to concentrate on learning. Players can choose a single multiplication table or select a range of all facts in a subject up to a certain number. This flexibility is missing in many other math practice apps.
Game play is timed with more tickets awarded for faster answers. The problem pops up at the top of the screen and six moles holding possible solutions stick their heads up from their burrows. Kids whack the right answer and get a sound effect when correct. If they answer incorrectly, the mole with the correct answer stays up. The decoy answers apply to the problem so with multiplication by five for example, moles hold cards ending in a 5 or 0. Again this detail is neglected in many similar math fact apps.
After completing a session, the on-screen game machine spits out the coveted tickets. Kids then get to visit the prize store. Just like in a real gaming redemption center, there are little prizes worth a few tickets and bigger prizes that require completing much longer levels. I got a balloon twisted dog for just five tickets. Prizes won by each player go to individual bookshelves for safe keeping.
In addition to tickets, players receive a gold, silver or bronze medal for completed levels. Parents can monitor their children's progress by seeing how many medals each has and the color on the number selection screen. There is also an option to register the app with GabySoft by entering an email. I am not sure what the benefit of registering is, but doing so does not require accessing an email server outside of the app. There are no external links or ads.
As much as I enjoyed whacking moles with my son, I did notice a few significant problems. When players select a large range of numbers, the questions keep coming until the range is complete. For multiplication facts 1-12, that means 144 questions. Not even the lure of enough tickets to buy a dollhouse can keep a child's interest that long.
An option to cap the number of questions per session must be added, as should the ability to work on addition and subtraction or multiplication and division in a single session. Using mixed sign questions would offer an even greater challenge for kids who have mastered all levels.
Additionally, the tickets not used aren't saved between levels. That's got to be fixed as well, so kids can choose whether or not to save for the larger items.
Whacky Math Facts has a free lite version available with limited levels. It is definitely worth having a look.
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If you would like to download Whacky Math Facts Lite (FREE for the iPad & iPhone) please support Smart Apps for Kids by using this link button:
No real moles were harmed in the writing of this review by Jill Goodman. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.