Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kid's App Review: Jumpstart's Madagascar Math Ops

Last month I gave you a preview of the new Madagascar Math Ops App that we were really excited about.  Our favorite penguins helping make math practice fun, sounds great!  We've had a couple of weeks to play around with it, so now I'm ready to review the app and give you an inside scoop about it.

The app's premise is that the major characters from the Madagascar movies have been kidnapped by mysterious men in black.  Players have to help the penguins rescue them by solving equations so they can build up enough fizzy drink to power their jet packs so they can fly and free their friends from cages.  This will make more sense as I walk you through game play with some screen captures.   

There are several grade levels of math skills to choose from, a nice feature, making it more likely more than one kid in the family can use it.  Parents can also register and keep track of the progress for more than one child using the app too.  A screen capture of the parent information for each level is show above, which lets parents know just what skills your child will work on in each one.  I liked how clearly everything was written out for you.
After your child picks a game, one of the next screens to appear is the progress screen, showing which levels were completed.  From what I can tell, the bananas have to do with how well your child did rescuing the Madagascar character, in the fun game part of the app.  The numbered level will be "cleared" when you solve enough problems and fill up the container with fizzy stuff, regardless of whether you are able to aim the penguins well enough to free the Madagascar characters from their cages.  As you can see we were somewhat better at the math portion than saving the Zoosters.
My daughter is entering second grade in the fall so we started with 1st level with sums to 24.  I liked how the equations were presented horizontally rather than vertically, as this is usually more challenging for learners.

To clear the early boards you simply have to find the two equations that are correct.  After tapping one to highlight, you tap the check mark at the bottom to see if your choice is correct.  If it is the container will begin to fill and if not, the equations and check mark will turn red giving a visual cue that it's not the right choice.

Thus the app is self checking, always a nice thing, that allows for independent practice.  You are allowed numerous chances to pick the correct two, we never ran and I purposely made mistakes to check.  I assume you have endless chances to pick, good for kids who have a lot of trouble with math and avoid too much frustration. 
The math portion of the play gets progressively more challenging as you move along through the numbered levels.  It will switch from simply identifying to requiring players to solve them by spinning the dial to the correct number.  You still check your work by tapping the check mark.
It becomes even more challenging when further along portions are now missing and must be replaced to make a complete correct equation to fill up the fizzy power.  This was around level 13, the furthest we had gotten before writing this review.

I think it's likely play was switched up again at least once more, to help increase the challenge and keep things from getting too repetitious and players from losing interest.  My daughter was getting a little tired of the similar play as we moved through the New York setting.  I hope when we move onto Paris and Sydney for the next stages things are changed up a bit so she will continue to be engaged by the game.
So why are we doing all this math?  Learning is always fun, right?  Well, if you child is like mine doing countless equations is going to get old after awhile without some motivation to continue.  This is where the storyline comes back into play.

After each numbered level is cleared you get a chance to don a jet pack and soar into the air, trying to free the Zoosters by knocking over things and breaking them out of their cages.  Play is much like aiming a sling shot.  Different types of jet packs from basic, to ones that drop bowling pins when tapped, and even exploding jet packs make play interesting.

Depending on how the cage is stacked sometimes you have to aim your penguin to fly high and knock things over and sometimes you can aim directly at the cage to break it.  It's challenging and sometimes you have to knock out the kidnappers in black suits as well.  My daughter and I are not particularly good at it but we have fun nevertheless.

Since we aren't especially good at video games, previously my daughter has experienced a lot of frustration with other games an apps.  This one hasn't gotten her down yet, even though there are a couple levels we cannot seem to break those cages!  It helps that you aren't stuck on one level if you can't figure out who to knock things down to free the Madagascar character and that you can come back, finish some more equations, and have another go at freeing the Zoosters.
Overall, I think Madagascar Math Ops is well worth the $2.99 purchase price.  Familiar characters to interact with and the short clips got my child really interested in playing and it keeps her busy when we're doing things like waiting in line or for our food to arrive at a restaurant. I have had no issues with the app freezing or not working, it's definitely well done in that respect.   Since it's from Jumpstart, I knew it would provide quality educational content even before we tried it.

Madagascar Math Ops is a fun game, set up to enable kids to be successful due to the self checking and pick an answer format.  I think it would be very useful for parents of learners who need something more engaging than worksheets to help improve math skills.  Repetitious practice is part of learning these important basic math skills.  Madagascar Math Ops makes this much more interesting and reinforcing through the play interspersed throughout the practice.

We are new to the world of smartphones so I just love that for less than the price of a workbook I can bring along an interactive game in my purse to give my daughter so she can work on math skills at any time.  This is a reliable app, geared toward early elementary aged kids that delivers what parents want...making learning more fun.

Madagascar Math Ops can be purchased at the following online resources:


Disclosure: I was provided with a JumpStart promotional code at no cost JumpStart in order to test the products’ abilities and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided

1 Friends Said:

Michelle said...

I'd been thinking about buying that one for my boys -- it's nice to have a better description of it than the Amazon page offers.

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