Bottom Line: Magic Store Math by developer Gebo Kano combines addition and subtraction with the fun of “playing store,” allowing little store clerks to practice their math skills while waiting on customers and making change. Makes math fun even for reluctant students.
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This app contains no ads and no in-app purchases. There are external links to the App Store and to the developer's website, but they are protected by some simple multiplication problems. Check your child's math ability before turning him or her loose.
But if there has to be math, at least it’s fun. Magic Store Math is aimed at kids age 8 and up, who are working on adding numbers greater than 100. Designed by a primary school teacher, the app progresses through 15 “weeks” of play, with progressively harder problems as the weeks go by.
The app is set up as a magic store, where customers come in and indicate with picture icons what they’d like to purchase. In week 1, customers are purchasing only two items at a time, and the sum of the prices comes to less than $100. Customers are also paying with exact change. But by the last few weeks of play, the items cost a few hundred bucks, customers are buying up to six things at a time, and they require change – a real math challenge for kids at this age. As each “week” is completed, players can see how they did: how long it took to serve each customer, how many errors they made, and how many stars they achieved based on their other stats. Players can then select new items to be sold in the store, making the next week’s play that much more difficult.
The game starts out with very clear written instructions that are appropriate for the app’s audience. As the game progresses and the problems get harder, the instructions kick in again as necessary, helping kids understand how the rules are changing as they go.
Check out Ellie's look inside the app:
Kids have two methods of calculation available to them: plain old mental math, in which they add in their heads and enter the amount straight into the cash register, or use of the app’s money board, where kids can manipulate the coins customers give them to make addition and subtraction more visual. For my visual-learner fourth grader, this money board was a huge hit – I could practically see the lights come on in her head as she sorted the money tokens and the problems began to make sense to her.
Side note: I downloaded this app onto my daughter’s iPad in order to test it. She watched over my shoulder and rolled her eyes at the week 1 play, calling it “babyish.” But after I played
through several weeks and finished my review, she snatched up the iPad and continued playing. I caught her playing it again this morning. Not so babyish after all, I guess.
A couple of minor complaints: there are a couple of typos in the directions, and as I’m actually an English person, not a math person, I can’t let that go unmentioned. Second, the external links in the app (to the developer’s website and to the App Store) are protected with fairly simple multiplication problems – problems that my fourth grader was able to get around with ease. If that safety issue were fixed, this would easily be a five-star app.
As a parent of a reluctant math student, I found this app to be a huge help with any math work we’re doing at home. But I can only imagine how beneficial it would be for a teacher, especially since it has the capability to set up and track multiple users. The money board is invaluable for visual learners, and even for those who are more comfortable with mental arithmetic, it’s terrific practice with numbers larger than 100.
Magic Store Math definitely goes into Smart Apps for Kids’ list of top math apps. Highly recommended!