iPhone Life magazine

Calculated learning

If you’re concerned that a child in your life is struggling or, not enjoying math as much you hope, but you have either an iPhone or iPod Touch, you’re in luck! 

Steve Glinberg and Victoria Gritton’s KidCalc (.99) is an excellent app to help make the process of learning math more enjoyable.  There are five different activities you can choose from on the menu; flash cards, a counting puzzle, a calculator, a math puzzle and my favorite snowflake counting it’s just something that you know kids already do outside and now you can keep them practicing inside.

But this is a learning game which goes far beyond counting.  What really excited me is the blend of engaging artwork, animation and audio in a very tight package which makes this app perfect to play with while on those long car or plane rides when you go to visit family.  The math exercises are well suited for grade schoolers, and with some sophistication I wasn’t expecting, both content and context were excellent. 

What do I mean by that?  I mean that each math example has both audio and two types of visual expression e.g. 1 + 6  is accompanied by, countable objects (in this case little orange planets),  this is really important for children who are more literal than abstract in their thinking or are studying so called “new math” aka "set theory" which uses sets other than 10 and is strongly graphically oriented.  I have to really hand it to Glinberg and Gritton on this one, they have this concept down cold, and hope they don't stop here.   Think geometry for High School or statistics for college - boy could I have used something when I was learning about Chi-squre Test.

As far as any down sides, I had to dig a bit.  On a number cycles of the math puzzle I watched my son play, while the equation changed with each new game, the image underneath didn’t, he got bored once he realized that.  Now I’ve noticed that the images underneath change as the app is updated, for some, that may not be quick enough for others it may not.  I also think if the coutable objects were stacked like the numbers below, children will start to recognize the relationhip between objects and numbers more readily.

Overall this is a really smart and well done app, I really like this app and as a parent strongly suggest you add this to your collection of apps for learning.  It can really help keep your kids interested and engaged with math, well that’s what really counts.  If you have children, or are a teacher looking for some tricks to engage those hard to engage kids, this app is for you - and just in time for Christmas!

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