Bottom Line: An odd pairing of a create-a-scene sticker app with math flashcards. May appeal to younger kids but school age students will likely lose interest after a few rounds.
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I applaud any developer that works to make math more fun. School administrators are under pressure to increase instructional time in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects. Apps are a great way to infuse technology into a classroom and can give curriculums that extra push principals are looking for. The content has to be strong though, otherwise kids are just wasting time playing with technology rather than learning from its use.
Developer ninetwentyeight has created an app whose purpose is to allow kids to learn through play. Rather than having kids complete a series of math problems and earn a sticker, coin or other reward token, they begin with the fun part which is designing scenes. Kids have a wide variety of backgrounds from which to choose including a blank canvas, haunted mansion, beach and desert. There are 40 resizable stickers available to populate the tableau and a pencil for freehand drawing.
Scenes can be saved in the app gallery or added to the device photo roll. Conversely, photos can be imported and used as new backgrounds. I had a dragon terrorize the cat from Punky Dunk and the Goldfish. There is also an option to email creations. The interface is fairly user friendly once kids get used to it and instructions are available at any time.
The artistic part of the app is fun and would be a natural paired with an application for creative writing. Think Toontastic or other narrate your own puppet show apps. Switching gears from right brained storytelling to the cold hard logic of left-brained math may be a difficult transition for some. As kids work on their scenes, they are visited by a bunny. After a while he gets impatient and pulls a curtain over the scene. He divides the scrim into between four and thirty squares. These are the cards on which math problems and their solutions appear.
The app includes addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. There is also a section called big numbers. Players must start at the beginning for each level and unlock them in sequence. All play is timed and carrots are earned for correct answers. Problems start very easy with 1+1 or 1+0 and get progressively harder with more questions per level. Rather than actually having to perform the calculation and write an answer, kids just have to find a match from among the cards available. There is no scratch pad which might be problematic when working on the addition and subtraction of the Big Numbers.
I wish all levels were unlocked from the outset as it makes no sense to force an eight year old to start with 1+1 or a 9 year old to wade through x2 tables. The ability to randomize problems or customize a range of numbers to work on would be preferable. Overall the pace is rather slow since the bunny has to draw the board each time. An option in settings to work on math only or art only would make sense even at the cost of losing out on an opportunity to exercise both sides of the brain.
Ninetwentyeight faces the same problem as the many other developers of math apps that cover all four operands. What appeals to and is motivating for a seven year old is vastly different from what interests a nine year old. My child would be more likely to roast the bunny on a spit and live another day in his Minecraft world than find his antics over a wrong answer to a math problem amusing. I think the concept works best for ages 5-7 rather than the stated ages of 7-9. These kids aren't ready for multiplication and division, however.
Doodle Learning Maths has received some glowing reviews, but I found it lacking on a number of fronts. The create a scene portion is much stronger than the math portion, and that probably wasn't the developer's intent. Although there is abundant content with hundreds of problems, the price is high considering how many math drill apps are free.
Jill Goodman's right brain is shooting daggers at her left brain at the moment. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.