Normally, we like to own and use an app for several months before posting a review. However, this time we were asked by Aadel over at Natural Family Today to review an app for them.*
Math Monkey is an app by Math Game Time. We weren’t familiar with this site before now as most of their games are on the net using Adobe Flash. Flash doesn’t work on iPads.** We’re very intrigued by their offerings and will definitely spend more time exploring their online games with our PC…but that’s another post for another blog.
How it works: Aptly described as “educational Angry Birds“, Math Monkey provides an addictive mix of math, trajectory, and strategy. 4 themed levels include: Jungle, Underwater, Outer Space, and In the Air. At the top right is a math problem. At the bottom left is a gorilla with a slingshot. Throughout the rest of the screen, there are 3 possible answers. The goal is to have the gorilla shoot cupcakes at the correct answer. Players use their finger to pull back the slingshot and aim. When you lift your finger, the cupcake takes flight!
The four levels provide practice in the basic mathematical operations. Each level has 10 questions. We have 5 cupcakes to slingshot at the correct answer. Answering the question on the first shot earned us a “golden” cupcake. Second – silver, third – bronze, fourth & fifth – colored, and if all are missed the cupcake is grey.
Educational Value: Jungle provides several double-digit plus single-digit problems. Underwater covers subtraction, including both double minus single and double minus double. Outer Space single times single then progressing to double times single. In the Air mixes single divided by single, double by single, double by double and even triple by double.
- There’s a “hint” button that will remove one of the incorrect answers. If we hit a wrong answer with a cupcake (either due to miscalculating trajectory or the solution), the hint button disappears.
- There’s a different background music for each level. Striking the correct answer gives a pleasant “bing” and “Good Job” appears on the screen with the color cupcake achieved. Hitting the wrong answer (or missing altogether) will result in a buzzer sound. Missing with all the cupcakes gives a little smashed cupcake and “Fail” on the top right corner and large in the center of the screen is “Try Again”. There is “Cupcake Scoreboard” for each level which shows at a glance which color cupcake was achieved for each question.
- As we progressed through the levels, we found more objects blocking the cupcakes from a straight trajectory to correct answers. This often meant creative cupcake launching to arc the path or a bank shot off the objects.
- Boy appreciated being able to skip straight to whatever level he was interested in without having to complete the previous levels.
- The questions are randomly generated. So, question 1 is not always the same. This means that we could play through several times and still have more practice.
- We like being able to go back and retry a number (though it may not be the same problem) to improve our standing in a level.
Immediately Girl (7yo) said, “I don’t like the name of this.” When we asked why, she said, “Because that’s a gorilla throwing the cupcakes. Gorillas are apes, not monkeys.” It seems a petty complaint, but these kinds of oversights annoy children who know better. It’s also what incorrectly “teaches” children who don’t know there’s a difference. (BTW ~ she’s just as critical of Curious George.)
- It would have been nice if the arc of difficulty of questions would have been consistent. In the Outer Space (multiplication) and In the Air (division) levels, the questions seem to get more difficult. However, in the Jungle (addition) and Underwater (subtraction) levels, the difficulty increases only because the objects are placed to make it more difficult to strike the correct answer. Frankly, we didn’t find the objects to be as much of a hindrance in the Outer Space and In The Air levels. Mom has one question in Jungle she still can’t pass because of obstacles.
- Girl says she wishes that the “dots” were on the screen like in Angry Birds. She’s referring to the fact that Angry Birds shows on-screen the complete trajectory of the last shot. This facilitates making minor adjustments in aim for the next shot.
- There is also numerical scoring for individual questions. Yet, we couldn’t find any tally for each level or the entire game. We wish there was a “scoreboard” somewhere in the app. Or just ditch the scoring altogether. Just seems like an undeveloped part of the program.
- Given the sheer number of educational apps out there for $.99 or $1.99 ~ $2.99 seems a bit overpriced for the market.
*Full disclosure, the app was offered to us for free ~ but before receiving all the details, we just purchased it.
**It’s our understanding that there may be some workarounds to this. However, due to the plethora of apps and the fact that we have a PC, we’ve never felt the need to investigate further.
*** Update: Natural Family Today and Math Game Time are giving away codes to this app for free. To register, please visit: http://naturalfamilytoday.com/education/math-game-time-and-math-monkey-app-review/ ***