Arithmetic Invaders is a collection of arcade-style apps that can help children practice various Mathematics strategies. These drill and practice games have a kind of retro-Space Invaders feel. As I’ve mentioned before, this kind of activity is not going to help a child learn their facts, but they can definitely help the child to learn to recall their facts quickly, which is an important skill when progressing to higher Mathematics.
Unlike other similarly themed apps (e.g. MathBlaster HyperBlast), one does not need a lot of gaming skill to play Arithmetic Invaders. The controls are very simple so the child can concentrate more on the real task: defending the Solar System. Sorry. I mean practising their Mathematics skills. Children need to calculate the sums shown on the alien spacecraft and then shooting the one that matches the number on their laser gun. They move the gun by tapping the right or left buttons. As they progress through the levels, children collect space pilot insignia as a reward. You can set the length of the game to 2, 3 or 5 minutes. Content covered at each level is clearly stated, although you can’t pick levels at random but must unlock each in sequence. Unlocked levels can be revisited.
The game publishers claim that the apps can help children learn some basic facts about the solar system. Hmmmm. At the end of each game, some basic information about the current planet is given, however this could be beyond the reading ability of some children and I doubt they would learn much, although the facts are interesting. The blurb on the iTunes store page also claims the apps help to develop hand and eye coordination, but that just makes me laugh as it has been one of the top arguments used by pre-teens to convince their parents to buy any computer game in the last 3 decades. It might be a true claim, but it is the Mathematics we are really interested in, and thankfully they seem to get this part right.
Here is a quick run-down of the games and the Mathematics skills covered.
Universal – will work on iPhone or iPad
Price: (Apart from the Explorer, which is free) each app in the series costs $1.99
This demo of the series is free and has activities from the other four Apps in the series. Download this one to see if these are the kinds of activities that might appeal to your children.
covers counting up and down (or counting on and back, as we refer to it here), and basic addition and subtraction. It seems to reinforce the content being covered in year 1 and being introduced in Prep. Please note that I’m a little limited in my review as I don’t have all of these apps.
This app covers simple addition and subtraction of numbers in tens and ones. Addition starts of fairly basic with single digit numbers and then progresses to double-digit with trading (refered to in the app as crossing.) Subtraction also starts with single digits and then progresses to a single digit from a double-digit number with no trading. Basic multiplication and division in the forms of doubles of single digit numbers and halves of numbers under 20 are also covered. Again, this covers Mathematics concepts covered in year one and going into year 2.
Arithmetic Invaders: Grade 2 Math Facts
Addition and subtraction of numbers up to 50, including both regrouping and no regrouping, doubles facts,halves of numbers under 20 (reversals of doubles facts). Mostly suited to year two, however the doubles facts are taught in earlier year levels.
All four operations are covered in this app. Unfortunately I haven’t seen it yet so am unable to review. It has only been released in the last couple of weeks and does not have a support page up. At a guess I’d say the addition and subtraction would go to 100, but watch this space.
These games can be handy little homework tools to help children recall their basic Mathematics facts with speed and accuracy. They are enjoyable to play, and are interesting enough that children will want to play them, although probably not for hours at a time. Still, for 2, 3 or 5 minute games, they seem worth the investment. I’d recommend downloading the free Express app that covers content from the other apps to see if it will be suitable for your child/ren.
- MathBlaster Hyperblast (onsarahsipad.wordpress.com)
- Evaluating Apps: Maths Drill and Practice (onsarahsipad.wordpress.com)