Bottom line: a fun addition app (a little on the expensive side) that truly teaches skills and strategies, not just memorization. Great for budding math nerds in kindergarten through second grade.
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See, the problem is that I don’t really DO math. I do English. Punctuation, spelling, grammar — I’m your huckleberry. But numbers? Nope. Not happening.
One of the concepts I’ve had a hard time conveying to my daughter is that, when counting on your fingers, as kids do when they’re first learning addition, you don’t have to start from 1 every time. 3 + 2? Start with 3, and then count 4 and 5. But no. She has to start at the beginning every time. 9 + 3? Just start with 9, for pete’s sake. But she doesn’t get that, which makes addition painful for both of us.
Which is why I love Addimal Adventures by Teachley. It’s teaching her the concept of counting on, as well as some other valuable tools for addition, and she’s actually getting it.
Teachley was founded by former teachers and has received grants from the federal Department of Education for its work. Addimal Adventures certainly has many classroom uses, but it’s been a great addition to our home iPad use as well, just to serve as reinforcement of what my daughter has learned in school.
In old-fashioned comic book fashion, kids are introduced to the evil Professor Possum, who is out to destroy the world. Only the Addimals can save the day and restore the city of El Sumado’s golden blocks. How does one earn golden blocks, you ask? By doing single-digit addition, of course.
The tool round introduces kids to four concepts that will help them add — not just memorization, but actual tools that will help them figure out a math problem. It’s not something I’ve seen in other math apps I’ve reviewed, and it’s having a great impact on my daughter’s ability to figure out this whole math thing. First, users are given the chance to solve the problem by “counting all,” which is exactly what most kids do — start with 1 and count all the objects (or fingers, or toes) to come up with the total. Then there’s the concept of counting ON, which is what I’ve been working on with my daughter — start with the highest number, and then count on to arrive at the total.
The other two tools are doubles and tens. Doubles allows kids to see the relationship between 3 + 3 and 3 + 4, making it easier to arrive at the answer of 7. And tens is useful for any answer that’s more than 10 – if kids know what they need to equal 10, it’s a simple matter to add on anything that’s left over. For example, when faced with 8 + 3, break it down into 8 + 2 + 1 to arrive at 11.
Then it’s time for the speed round, when kids are challenged to use all these tools to answer quickly. They get hints if needed, reminding them of the tools they’ve learned. When they get the right answer in the speed round, they earn gold blocks, which helps defeat Professor Possum.
In between each round is a little vignette featuring Professor Possum, which my daughter saw as a reward for a job well done. If your kid would rather skip the story, there’s an option for that as well. Other options include music on or off (yay!), single or shared users (useful for classrooms), and four levels ranging from easy to hard. The hard level is still single-digit addition, but with larger numbers, giving kids more opportunity to practice the “tens” skill. There’s also the opportunity to do just tool rounds or just speed rounds, depending on what the user needs at that time.
The graphics are really well done, and the comic book portions are suitably over the top. Game play can get a bit monotonous — additional games that teach the same skills would be a nice addition. The game also requires users to slide to the right answer on a number line, which is a little awkward. My daughter had a tough time stopping on the right number and learning to then let go in order to choose that number. The speed round allows users to just touch a number, and I found that to be a better option for little fingers.
This is my new favorite math app simply because it showed me a way to teach a concept my daughter was struggling with. If you have a little one in kindergarten through second grade who’s just learning, it might be a good addition (ha!) to your iPad, too. It would also prove useful for older kids who might be struggling in this area. I might have given it an extra half star if not for the price — $3.99 is a little steep, even for a unique app.
I look forward to seeing more from Teachley, including how their concepts apply to subtraction, multiplication and division.
Emilie is already looking for an app that will serve as a math tutor for her daughter when the questions are beyond Emilie's ability to assist. Like, you know, in first grade. SmartAppsForKids.com was paid a priority review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.