Happi 123 – a Maths game for Kids by Happi Papi is an App designed to help children learn the basic Mathematical concepts of counting, addition, subtraction, number sequence and number patterns. I say learn rather than practice, as this App has some supportive features that can help a child learn about the concepts (as opposed to a drill and practice App that can help with speed and recall after a concept has already been learned.)
When you open the App, you will see a Puppet Theatre with the first two activities. A swipe from right to left will reveal more activities, and a parent information page can be viewed by tapping the lower right corner. (Internet connection is required to view the parent information.) Each concept explored has two activities that alternate between Puppet Theatre and Dominoes.
The puppet theatre activities all work the same way: a number of puppets illustrate the number or problem. These can be counted by tapping each. Children might need to be guided to count the rows from left to right and top to bottom, as each item has a specific number. Tapping out of sequence will mean hearing the numbers out-of-order. At first I thought this might be a confusing element, but it makes sense to encourage children to count with some sort of order as this will aid one-to-one correspondence. You can turn this audio help off. (Instructions below.)
Children answer each question by tapping on the fingers of hands at the bottom and the matching number is displayed between the two hands. The addition sums use numbers 1 to 5 with a maximum answer of 10. Tap a finger (or thumb) to show it, or tap it a second time to lower it. Unlike the puppets, fingers can be tapped in any order, and again, the number is spoken. This could be useful in the addition section where children might like to use the two hands to show each number in the sum, and in a similar way for subtraction. When they think they have arrived at the correct answer, a lever at the right of the screen is tapped to check. Children are awarded with a token after 6 correct answers.
In the other type of activity, children drag dominoes into their proper place along a path that forms a circuit. Once the dominoes are in place, turn the switch to turn on a light. The activities cover the same concepts as the puppet theatre but are marginally harder. All numbers from 1 to 9 are used in sums with addition to ( and subtraction from) ten. The child receives a token after the three lights are lit.
The paired activities include:
Counting – Count the puppets and show the answer on the hands, or count the dots on the dominoes and join them to the matching numerals.
Addition – In the Puppet theatre, add two numbers up to 5 with two different puppet types are used to illustrate the two numbers. Add the numbers on the dominoes and match the answer to the same number of dots.
Subtraction – A number of puppets appear, and then one or more fall. Transparent images of the missing puppets remain to remind children how many puppets have been taken away. The dominoes activity is very similar to the addition activity.
Number Sequence– Identify the missing number in a sequence of 5 numbers. The numbers display in place of the puppets in the theatre. The dominoes activity is slightly more challenging as children must place numbers and their matching dots in sequence, with some numbers and dots replaced by question marks.
Number Patterns – The puppet theatre activity is easy to understand: identify the number to complete number patterns. Some patterns include ABAB, AABAAB, and ABCABC. My children and I found the dominoes activity more confusing, as in this activity you are creating, not one, but two patterns. The patterns start at either end of the domino circuit and meet in the middle. Some instructions would have been handy, but we worked it out in the end.
Blitz – This activity is available in the puppet theatre only and involves answering mixed questions from the other activities
Subtraction – the Puppet Theatre subtraction activity deserves a special mention because of the way it introduces the concept. Subtraction can be a bit abstract for some children, but in this App they have a constant reminder of the original number and the number that was subtracted. The YouTube video below shows how this works:
Built-in success – No negative feedback is given for incorrect answers, and children can try again until they reach the correct answer. Incorrect dominoes bounce out of the path. Upon completion of each activity, positive reinforcement is given no matter how many attempts the child needed to make.
No Levels – Although the activities are arranged in a logical sequence, starting with basic counting and progressing to more complex concepts of addition, subtraction etc, the games within each activity do not increase in difficulty. Each time a child chooses the same activity, ey will be practicing at the same level. Often games progress in difficulty too quickly for children, resulting in frustration, but Happi 123 gives children the chance to practice again and again without putting them out of their depth.
Rewards – After 6 correct answers in Puppet Theatre activities, or 3 in Domino activities, children receive a reward token. Each activity has multiple different reward tokens to collect. My children find this motivating enough to keep coming back and practicing. The rewards for the domino activities are particularly entertaining as children can play with them in the rewards screen. The YouTube video above gives an idea of how this works towards the end of the video.
Audio support – as children tap puppets or fingers, they can hear the number spoken. This can be turned off through the Settings App on your iPad. Go to Settings and then scroll down the left column until you find Happi 123 under Apps. You can Disable the Audio Help and reset the game from this point.
Simple Controls – This app is simple to learn and simple to use. Children can concentrate on the Maths without having to puzzle through various buttons and tools.
No in-app purchases – although we can turn off in-app purchases, there are enough parents with outrageous bills to show that this is not foolproof. It also doesn’t stop children from being prompted to purchase extra levels, tools, etc. Happi Papi have a “no in-app purchases” policy which means you get a complete app.
No direct social networking – you can find the address to Happi Papi’s Facebook page in their parent section, but you cannot directly link to it from their app, which is very refreshing. Too often developers promote their apps with direct links to social networking sites, even though the age group targeted by their app is way below the legal age-limit for accessing these sites. It is great to see Happi Papi making it a policy not to directly link to these sites to promote themselves.
Happi Papi Evaluation Program for Schools
It is great to see developers who actively seek to make better, more useful Apps. To this end, Happi Papi have an evaluation program for schools where schools can register for the program and receive codes to download free apps. In return, Happi Papi is after feedback as to how the apps perform in a school setting. Feedback is not mandatory, and the program is free of both cost and obligation. For more details, visit the Happi Papi website at www.happipapi.com
Since Happi Papi are after feedback, here are a couple of features I’d love to see in future updates for this app:
Supportive feedback – although there is no negative feedback, it would be great for children to have feedback that gives them an idea of where they have gone wrong and what to do about it. In the case of the puppet theatre activities, this might be something like “That number is to big. Take some away” or “That is not enough. Tap some more fingers.”
Individual student profiles – My children like to keep a track of their own progress and don’t always like sharing progress points with others. It makes them feel special to be able to log into an App under their own name, particularly if they get to choose an Avatar (such as in rED Writing). It also gives me an opportunity to track their progress. I only have a family of 6 children (I know, I know, only sounds a bit odd in that context!), but I imagine things get a bit more complicated in a class of 25 or so.
Happi Papi have created an App that is going to appeal to teachers and parents of children in early childhood settings. Children will find it fun and simple to use, and the rewards should encourage them to keep practicing their Mathematics. It is great value for money.
Disclaimer: Happi Papi kindly gave me this app to review.
- Apps for Education: A Great initiative (wired.com)