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Apps for Money Skills Part 3: Academy Coins

27 May

app iconThe third app in my Money App review series is Academy Coins by Wesley Dyson.  The app has currencies for Canada, Australia, United States, United Kingdom and the Euro.  Unfortunately the app is limited to coins so children don’t get to work with notes.

Activities

Academy Coins has activities that range from very basic coin recognition to the more advanced addition  with currency.  The levels are unlocked as children progress through the levels, although you can unlock all levels via an in-App purchase for $1.29

  • What are Coins? Cheat Sheet – Identifying coins. The “tails” side of each coin appears with the amount written in words, in different currency forms (e.g. as dollars and as cents) and there is a description of the images on the coin.  (I love that Canadians Have Loonies and Toonies.  We have plenty of Loonies in Australia, but unfortunately you’ll find them running the country rather than in your wallet.)
  • Dollars or Cents? – A coin is displayed along with a numerical value, and you need to select whether the amount is shown in dollars or in cents.  5c may be displayed as 0.05 or as 5, and children will need to select the appropriate symbol. Although the title of the activity doesn’t change, the currency symbols change for the Euro and the Pound.
  • Matching with Numbers – Match the coin to it’s numerical value by dragging it into the appropriate slot.
  • Matching with Words – This is identical to Matching with Numbers, except the values are shown as words.
  • How Much Money? There are three levels to this activity, each getting progressively more difficult.  Level one begins with coins with lower value coins (less than a dollar) and larger value coins and amounts are added in levels 2 and 3.
  • Making Change Subtraction  – Show a given amount as coins.  I can’t really see where the subtraction is in this activity.  I would have imagined an activity in this category to be more of a shopping style activity, e.g. buy an item for $1.75, pay with a $2 coin and select the correct change. Instead, this activity is really an addition activity, and I like that children can use any combination of coins to make the correct amount. There are two levels of difficulty.
  • Sum it Up – This is a addition with regrouping using currency symbols.  Level 1 uses the cents symbol (or pence) and Level 2 uses the dollar/Euro/Pound symbol.  Some children may need a paper and pencil handy to work things out.

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Other Features

  • You can drag coins around the screen, which can help when adding or by sorting into value.
  • Reporting is  very basic and gives you a percentage figure for each activity and level.  (I had to turn notifications off on my iPad; it tends to nag you if you haven’t used the app for a while.)
  • The one app has 5 different currencies.  While you’ll probably only use one, it is fascinating for children to see the similarities and differences between the different international coins. This is one of the few apps I own that has currency for the United Kingdom.  The images of the coins are excellent quality.
  • Parent controls are protected by a password and allow you to turn off In-App purchases and sharing features, and reset progress reports.

Wish List

  • Feedback needs to be more supportive.  It would be great for children to have a clue as to why they have made errors, e.g. “that is too much” or “that is not enough money.”
  • Faster progression through questions – The app is a little slow to progress through questions as each successful answer results in fanfare and fireworks (or other visual display) and then a prompt to go on to the next question. My boys found it a bit frustrating, even with the positive affirmations. They actually found it faster to answer the question correctly, leave the activity and reenter it.
  • All levels should be able to unlock without the in-App purchase.  If teachers are to use this app in a classroom, they really need to know what the activities are like in advance.  At $3.75 Aus, I believe you’ve already paid enough.
  • I know the name is Academy Coins, but it isn’t really comprehensive without the notes.
  • Individual Profiles – for use in schools or families with more than one child, individual profiles are an advantage.
  • The Tutorial should be more comprehensive with information about each of the activities in the app, particularly if these are locked.  Currently it lets you choose your currency and has a single image telly you that you can collect stars, and you can tap to play. There is nothing about the different activities or their aims, how many questions you need to answer to progress, and what the progress reports mean.

Verdict

Academy Coins could be a useful app for basic money skills of coin recognition, recognising amounts in words or numbers, currency symbols, showing coins in different ways, and adding coins.  Unfortunately it lacks activities for giving change, and there are no notes in the app.  At $3.79 Aus, it isn’t as good value as iCan Count Money (cheaper) or the STAAPS Money apps (same price) that are  more comprehensive in both activities and in the use of both notes and coins.  If more features are added to future updates, I’ll happily look at this app again because it has great potential.


Publisher: Wesley Dyson
iPad only: requires iOS 8.0 or higher
Price: $3.79

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