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)



The Little App

the little app
Age Scale: 2-5 (but it is really a tool for an adult)

Device: iPod, iPhone, and iPad

Quick Line: Little Activities Make a Big Difference

What Educators Need to Know:
For those of you that aren’t totally convinced that your toddler or early preschooler needs to be using an electronic device, here’s an app that is sure to please. The Little App is more of a tool for an adult than an app for a child. Input a child’s birth date and voila! Age-appropriate content to support the development of your little one!

What kind of content, you ask? Here’s the really great part: it is a mixture of practical, engaging activities, story starters, and kid-friendly video clips. For example, with a quick refresh, The Little App recommends two activities, two videos, and a story starter for two year old D: Blocks Galore (sorting activity), Guess My Weight (using a small scale), Bruno Mars singing “Don’t Give Up” on Sesame Street, Laurie Berkner’s video for “Rocketship Run”, and the suggestion to tell a heartwarming tale of a happy whale who dreams of going to space. Everything seems to be perfectly selected for his age, and the activities are easy to do with items found around the home.

Please pass this along to daycare providers. Each activity lists several educational outcomes which is great for writing lesson plans. And the price tag won’t break the bank… FREE!

Note: Don’t expect too much for five-year-olds. House of H is still adding content for this set.

Price: FREE

The Little App - House of H

Khan Academy

Age Scale: 10-adult

Device: iPad

Quick Line: Help! (At Your Fingertips)

What Educators Need to Know:

A few months ago, I saw a 60 Minutes piece on Salman Kahn, an American educator who had started an organization called the Khan Academy.  His resume boasted an education that included MIT and the Harvard Business School, and watching him create tutorials for his website indicated that this man was pretty close to a genius-level intellect.  Since that time, the Khan Academy app has been brought to my attention over and over again. Users have access to thousands of videos/tutorials on topics including K-12 math, sciences, humanities, history, and finance.  Now, don’t expect bells and whistles here.  The simplistic lessons are created on an online whiteboard with audio, but what I love is the portability.  Students can download their own playlists and replay them easily whenever needed.  Tutors can brush up on topics before sitting down to remediate.  While it is, by no means, a replacement for teacher/student interaction, it is yet another tool to lead our students to mastery.  I want to teach my students life lessons including seeking help when needed and using available resources.  Khan Academy is a great one!

Price:  FREE

Khan Academy - Khan Academy

Operation Math

Age Scale: 5-12

Device:  iPod, iPhone, or iPad

Quick Line:  Mission Quite Possible

What Educators Need to Know:

Spinlight Studio, creators of AlphaTots and TallyTots, have done it again!  Operation Math is a slick, entertaining math game that combines James Bond-style missions and computation skills.  Depending on the needs of their learners, teachers can tier instruction by selecting addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and a number of combinations of each.  After completing five levels, where the problem difficulty and their frequency increase, users receive a new uniform and/or watch.  Collect all of the uniforms and you win!  I’ll be honest; I don’t know what you win because I haven’t had anyone win yet.  Even though each mission is limited to a minute, this game takes TIME.    We also have not figured out how to erase all player data (records and missions).  It says we have the ability to delete, but I have not found that to be true.  This could be a problem if you are sharing devices within a school.  Overall, this is a great game that certainly beats traditional flash cards and drill and practice worksheets!

Price: $2.99 (a bargain, if you ask me!)

Operation Math™ Pocket - Spinlight Studio