Sumurai: a Brand New Math Puzzle Game

samurai app

Age Scale:  10+

Device: iPhone, iPod, and iPad

Quick Line:  Practice Without Feeling Like Practice

What Educators Need to Know:

Finally!  Finally!  I am so happy to present a game that is well-suited for the middle school set!  Friends, meet Samurai, a brand new math puzzle game.

If you are looking for an alternative to Sodoku, or if you want to drive home the importance of operational skills in your classroom, this is the game for you!  Its premise is pretty simple but addictive!

As the developer stated in our first email encounter, if you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide two-digit numbers, you have what it takes to reach some levels of success at this game.  In the free version, there are two levels:  easy and medium.  I love a risk-free trial, so I would recommend starting here.  The goal is to solve a pyramid puzzle by swapping numbers and operators.  Sounds easy, but as usual, the levels become increasingly more complex by the addition of multiple steps on the pyramid.  Need a visual?  Anything blue or red can be swapped.  Anything gray remains static.

Screenshot 2013.10.28 13.30.16

Work slowly and carefully, but not too slowly.  The game is timing you!  Frustrated?  Sorry, there are no hints, but a simple tap of the back arrow allows you to skip a game.  Mastered the FREE version?  Well, good for you!  Now, try the Pro version.  At a mere $.99, you will be hard-pressed to find a more challenging, thought-provoking puzzle game.  I’ve been letting a few of my boys play with it on our classroom iPad while waiting for their buses, and they LOVE it!  I’m actually hoping my mother-in-law is reading this.  Linda, you love Sudoku…give this one a try!

Price:  FREE

Note:  Searching for this app has proven to be a challenge itself.  Don’t be silly like me.  Type SUMURAI, not Samurai.  Use my link below, or search for the developer, Anand Ramanathan, in the App Store.




Mystery Math Museum

Age Scale: 6-12

Device: iPad

Quick Line: Don’t Mess with Success

What Educators Need to Know:

Do you have Halloween on the brain?  I know I do!  Check out Artgig Apps’ newest creation – just in time for Halloween!

Say you are a ghost. You’ve already haunted every house in Mystery Math Town. You’ve collected your buddies, the fireflies, and your art collection is pretty extensive, if a bit peculiar.

But you are ready to move on. What’s a ghost to do?  Ghosts are immortal but powerless without a home to torment.

You hear about a new hot spot. It sounds pretty promising. It’s called Mystery Math Museum, and the premise is the same: move from room to room collecting and releasing dragonflies while solving math problems. You hear that you’ll need to brush up on your division skill set. Now that’s something you didn’t need to do in Math Town!

You decide to give it a try. The first museum has a sports theme. Sweet! As you pass through, the portraits, once again, begin to talk to you. You think they might make an nice addition to your gallery, so you press on, hoping to score some gold coins for your excellent computational skills. As expected, you are soon rewarded, and you decide to make Mystery Math Museum your permanent residence.  Lucky you! You didn’t have to travel far to find yourself right at home.

Once again, Artgig Apps creates a product that appeals to adults and children alike.  Gaming in education is a hot topic right now, and these creative developers have their pulse on how to maximize learning. The ability to add multiple users with varying abilities is essential to the modern classroom.  I love that a simple tap can change the game from simple addition to division using dice to represent numbers. Enrich or re-mediate? Mystery Math Museum can do both!

This app is just quirky enough to get your attention and just delightful enough to keep it!   Like any other institution with engaging exhibits, I will have to drag my kids out of Mystery Math Museum!  It is well worth the price of admission!

See my review of Mystery Math Town here!

Price: $2.99



Mystery Math Town

Age scale: 6-10

Device: iPad only

Quick Line: No Smoke and Mirrors Here!

What Educators Need to Know:

Navigating the Education category in the App Store is sometimes like visiting a haunted house. You rely on your senses to move you in the right direction, only to frequently encounter a dead end. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, I have given you a flashlight. I’m hoping to upgrade to a flood light with this one: Mystery Math Town.

Picture this: you arrive at a spooky old town in the middle of the night. You enter the first house, looking for inhabitants, only to encounter leftover furniture, talking portraits, and a jar for collecting fireflies. Fireflies make you feel less afraid, so you explore the home, solving equations as you go, looking for lightning bugs to soothe you. The portraits make you giggle, and you become even less afraid. If only you had that last numeral to solve a problem with a sum of 10… Better keep looking!

And so your hunt continues. Collecting fireflies leads you to collect gold coins. These are even more valuable as they will earn you the right to keep the talking portraits in your gallery. Besides their entertainment value, these pieces of history will give you clues to the mystery of Math Town, and they will only tell you their stories when safe in your gallery. You are hooked. Better keep looking!

My first grade neighbor and son delighted in the above experience as we first explored this app. Not knowing my neighbor’s ability level, I selected a simplistic skill set including addition and subtraction to 10. Had they been a bit older, I would have upped the ante and set the skill level to adding and subtracting to 20. In a few years, I can challenge them again by selecting multiplication. And just when they think they’ve mastered it, I’ll throw them a curve and add tally marks and dice to replace the numbers. That ought to keep them humble!

Did I mention that they each played their own game on this iPad? You didn’t think little E was going to SHARE did you? Mystery Math Town accommodates multiple users, so you can customize the game for each child. This is reminiscent of just about every other app by Artgig Studios. Tom Cruise had Renee Zellwiger at, “hello.” Artgig has me at, “customizable.” 

In case I was not clear, make a right at the coffin. Ignore the zombies. Turn left at the caldron. And head straight to the App Store and grab Mystery Math Town!

Price: $2.99 (and worth every penny)




Age Scale: 9-adult

Device: iPad

Quick Line: Imagination and Estimation Combined?!

What Educators Need to Know:

Math Teachers, rejoice! Motion Math has developed another great app aimed at internalizing mathematics concepts. Traditional estimating lessons can be so BORING. And often times, they are not practical. But estimation is a lifelong skill – one that adults use on a daily basis. Why not add a little fun to your estimating practice!

Play is simple but effective. Users select a quest they’d like to explore. By combining phrases, an estimation question is developed. For example, How many giraffes…would be as tall as…the Statue of Liberty? Once you’ve made your estimate, you will see your answer and either an explanation of the math used to find the answer or a link to support the correct answer. [Note: I could not, would not, believe that at a yoga mat was only 5.7 feet long. Clicking on “Really?!” sent me to the GAIAM website. I was indeed, wrong.] If your answer is within a predetermined set of target rings, you get points. Points unlock treasures and power-ups. If your answer is outside of the rings, you lose a life. Can you complete your Quest before you lose three lives?

There are three modes: Solo, Pass and Play, and Game Center. I think the Pass and Play mode is terrific. Pair your students and allow them to compete against each other. It requires fewer devices and may allow some cooperative learning to occur! Who doesn’t like a little friendly competition?

Currently, there are four Quests available: Intro, Need for Speed, Amazing Animals, and History of Awesome. The Intro Quest is free; the rest require coin purchases. 100 coins costs $1.99 which is enough to unlock Amazing Animals and Need for Speed. History of Awesome requires 70 coins. The developer suggests that additional content will be added.

Please do not shy away from the potential cost of this app. Check it out for yourself with the FREE Intro Quest. You and your kiddos will love it!

Price: FREE (for Intro Quest; additional Quests require purchase)

Questimate! - Motion Math

Math Doodles


Age Scale: 6-adult

Device: iPad (can purchase each game separately for iPod or iPhone)

Quick Line: Don’t Miss Math App

What Educators Need to Know:
Out of the thousands of math apps that exist, Math Doodles is one of the best. Created by Carsten Studios, Math Doodles approaches math from a conceptual, problem-solving perspective, one that most teachers will value and PAY for.

There are currently three games contained in the Math Doodles iPad app. Each can be purchased separately for the iPod Touch. Sums Stacker requires the player to drag values from stack to stack until the sums of each stack equal the the target sums. Users click on a series of values in a grid that add up to a sum target in Connect Sums. Early algebraic concepts are tested with Unknown Square. One must decipher the values of the letters on the grid. Horizontal, vertical, and diagonal sums are shown. A fourth game, Splat Go Round, is available in an early sketch format and requires knowledge of hours, minutes, angles, and fractions. It will be available soon in a free update to those who purchase Math Doodles.

The options, however, are really what make this app stand out. Each game can be played with various value representations including dice, number, fingers, hole tiles, ten frame, U.S. coins, tally marks, polygons, and many more. Each game can also be played in three modes: solve, infinity, or race. And each challenge has an easy and hard mode. For example, first graders can play Sum Stacker with numbers in the easy solve mode. Sixth graders can play Unknown Square with polygons on the hard race mode. The combinations are endless and will meet the need of diverse learners.

If you can only afford a few math apps for your classroom set of iPads, this one should be on your list! I have so much respect for Daren Carstens, the innovator behind this app. The design behind it is so clever that students will hardly believe they are practicing their skills.

Price: $2.99

Marble Math Junior

E and I are in love with Marble Math Junior. It is a highly customizable app where users can practice skills from shape recognition and matching, counting money, telling time, ordinal numbers, identifying fractions, and addition, subtraction, and multiplication to 100. Each board lists a task at the top of the screen. Users must manipulate a marble through the maze while completing the task. The focus is, most certainly, on the task. Child can’t read well? No worries! The task can be read to you!

E is on the easy level, and at four, he is learning how to add quantities to sums of 10 and place ordinal numbers from least to greatest and vice versa. From an educators standpoint, I appreciate two things more than others: the focus on concepts not computation and the ability to enrich or remediate quickly and simply. How much would parents appreciate your effort to meet the needs of their individual child, especially with cutting edge technology? Use it in a center or small group, but definitely use it!