Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Math Rider

We have had the pleasure of receiving a free download of Math Rider: Math Facts Game for review. This game retails for $47 for a lifetime copy, which includes free updates for life. This program is ideal for children in grades 2nd-6th, but even my K and 1st grader were able to use it.

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When I heard about this program, I was unfamiliar with it. I went to the website and downloaded a free trial version (a one week key). We had so much fun with it I knew we would love to review it. We received a one year key for our review, but if you were to buy it, you would receive a lifetime copy.

This is a fun game with a very straightforward set up. It allows children to practice math facts by "mastering" each level. There are 4 levels for each of the 4 functions:
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  1. Addition facts, numbers 0-5
  2. Addition facts, numbers 0-10
  3. Addition facts, numbers 0-12
  4. Addition facts, master level (only unlocked after you master the first 3 levels)
  5. Subtraction facts, numbers 0-5
  6. Subtraction facts, numbers 0-10
  7. Subtraction facts, numbers 0-12
  8. Subtraction facts, master level (only unlocked after you master the first 3 levels)
  9. Multiplication facts, numbers 0-5
  10. Multiplication facts, numbers 0-10
  11. Multiplication facts, numbers 0-12
  12. Multiplication, master level (only unlocked after you master the first 3 levels)
  13. Division facts, numbers 0-5
  14. Division facts, numbers 0-10
  15. Division facts, numbers 0-12
  16. Division facts, master level (only unlocked after you master the first 3 levels)
At the beginning of each level is a short story about the quest you are on. The stories include adventurous reasons why you are riding your horse on this journey, including:
  • Your mother is sick and needs a magical flower to heal her.
  • The elves have lost a magical jewel and you must return it.
  • A princess has been taken captive and you have to deliver a message to her father, the king.
  • After you complete all of these with 100% proficiency, you can take on the master level with a surprise ending.
To achieve mastery, you go on a series of rides along the quest of each level. There are hurdles for your horse, and by answering the math question on each hurdle, you can jump it. Not only answering correctly before reaching the hurdle, but also by shortening the time in which you type your answer, you show improvement in mastering the facts. If you miss a question the game adapts and brings the math fact around again until you get it right. Here's a video which shows what I'm talking about:

How we used it:

All four of my kids created accounts in the program. Each player can create a password and can log in or out. By having separate accounts, the game can track each player's mastery and response time, and show the amount of improvement. The kids played it almost every school day, after finishing their math lessons. I used it as a kind of incentive.

Tyler started out in the division facts, since that is where he is in school. Emma started working in the addition level 0-12. Mayda was working on addition and subtraction in the easier levels. Wyatt worked on the lowest level for addition. Since he is in kindergarten, and had only recently learned basic math, I was impressed at how easy it was for him to understand the controls and play the game well.

I also created an account for myself and played the game all the way through. Of course, I had to do this for the benefit of you, my reader, so I could give a thorough review. The gratification of beating the game was only a side benefit. ;) While you can start out at any level, I quickly learned that the best approach for anyone of any age is to start at the lowest level and progress upward only when you have finished a quest with 100% mastery of that level. Mastery was reflected as not only correct scores but also speed in answering. As I went, I earned little tokens of reward on my home screen for each 100% I completed.

The statistics screen was my favorite feature. I was able to track how much the kids had increased in proficiency. Overall, in just a few weeks:

  • Tyler increased in his addition proficiency by 28%, and increased in his division proficiency by 39%
  • Emma increased in her addition proficiency by 23%
  • Mayda increased in her addition proficiency by 49% and her subtraction proficiency by 28%
  • Wyatt increased in his addition proficiency by 38%
  • Even I increased in my proficiency of all four functions by and average of 22%

What I liked:

  • The statistics it compiles.
  • The lovely graphics. This is a quality game, no cheesy graphics or quirks.
  • The challenge it is for all grades.
  • The simple controls that do not complicate the game.
  • The reward system.
  • The difference a mastery of all functional combinations of 0-12 can make in math.
  • The way the game adapts to the players needs.

What I didn't like:

  • Magical elements to all of the stories, including: unicorns, elves, sorcerers, and dragons.
  • The pressure for better and faster times is pretty intense, and some of my kids didn't respond well to that.

Bottom Line:

This is a fun game that can easily help kids memorize their math facts quickly. It is easy to use, adapts to their needs, and rewards kids for mastering a function. There are magical elements to the story-line I don't appreciate, but the kids and I talked about those things and moved on, since the were only just part of the story, and not part of the game-play. I think all of my kids benefited from trying out Math Rider. Even I benefited from trying it out, having facts I knew, now on "rapid recall."

Be sure to read other reviews of Math Rider here:


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