Evaluating Apps: Maths Drill and Practice

21 Jan

Also known as drill and skill, drill and practice games don’t usually help children learn their basic facts, but they can help speed up recall and so can serve a purpose in reinforcing what the child already knows.  The main aim is to help children recall basic facts quickly and accurately.  They are good Homework Apps and can act as a reward.

There are hundreds (at least!) of this type of App, in the next few posts I’ll highlight some good and not-so-good ones.  Seeing as I can’t possibly cover all of them, here are the kinds of things I look at when evaluating drill and practice apps.

The following questions are the main ones I ask:

  1. Can I customise the app in terms of ability level, feedback and sound.  This makes the App more useful over time, and means you can use it with several children of different abilities and/or ages.  If you can turn off the more annoying sounds, it also makes the app more “socially acceptable” if your child is using it in public, such as waiting for a sibling to finish a dance/music/sports lesson.
  2. Is there a reporting facility so I can see how my child is doing?  Things to look for include tracking success over time, and identifying errors that the child is making so that you can work on them.
  3. Will this game keep my child interested?  Are the rewards interesting enough to motivate them to keep trying.  A simple beep, such as the reward in Math Grade K, is no reason for a child to keep answering sums.  It helps if there is a reward such as a game, a collection of “treasures” or  similar.
  4. Which operations does the App cover?  Some may just cover one or two, or the may cover all.  It doesn’t matter which you pick, but it helps to have all the operations covered, even if it is by more than one App.
  5. Are there elements that distract from the main task?  MathBlaster HyperBlast is a classic example. It would be possible for a child to miss the Math part of the game it they were unable to navigate through the arcade part of the game.
  6.  Which ages will this App appeal to?  Apps that cover the basic elements of Mathematics sometimes use graphic and sound elements meant to appeal to children in early childhood.  If they use more neutral graphics, the same App could appeal to older children operating at a similar level.  Times Table Cloud Click Game is one such game that would appeal to children of a variety of ages.
I’m posting reviews of a variety of drill and practice Mathematics Apps over the next few days.  We are starting with just three today, but as I add more, I may edit this post a little more to add more examples.
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One Response to “Evaluating Apps: Maths Drill and Practice”

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  1. Decisions, Decisions – Why get an iPad? « On Sarah's iPad - 03/05/2012

    […] Folder) during school terms, so when we are out and about the children naturally tend to play Math Drill and Practice games, read stories or use one of the hand writing Apps.  If Luddites look at you sideways for having […]

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