Mathtopia+ App Review
App Name: Mathtopia+
Mom’s Rating: 5/5
Kids’ Rating: 5/5
Recommended Grades/Ages: Kindergarten, Grades 1-6, Remedial math fact use for all ages
Skills Developed: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Thinking Puzzle
Available On/Price: Universal (iPhone/iPod/iPad) – $3.99
Reviewed on: iPad
Mathtopia+ is at its core, a combination of math fact drill and match-3 jewel-based games. The app starts with a built-in interactive tutorial (it can be accessed at any time for review) that teaches you the basics of the game and get started quickly. Touching the player name opens the app settings where you can set up profiles for up to six users.
Once they have a profile, players can either choose a math tile displaying a math fact, or the solution – by tapping the two in any order, the math fact is solved and transforms into a colorful jewel. There are a set number of math facts per solution (a certain number will add up to 0, 1, 2, etc. depending on the level number). Once all the math facts with that solution are solved the card is full (and bonuses are given).
Completed gems or uncompleted math facts with the same solution can be lined up by swapping them or having them fall into a line naturally. These lined up tiles then disappear, making room for more that arrive from the top of the screen. Uncompleted math facts that are lined up according to solution number disappear and provide swap points, but don’t add solve points towards the card completion total. Multiple tile swaps are supported by the app – just turn off multi-gesturing in your settings to avoid accidentally switching apps for best results.
As levels increase, two special tools are provided – shuffles that rearrange the layout of the tiles on the game screen, and hammers that allow your child to destroy any specific tile. Just tap these tools to collect them, then tap the icon on the left side of the screen to play them.
Each completed level is given a rating from 1-3 stars, 3 stars means facts are being solved in 2 seconds or less (mastery), 2 stars is less than 4 seconds, 1 star is less than 9 seconds. Games will end if more than 10 seconds is taken per fact on average. At the end of each level a variety of statistics are also displayed – time and fastest historical time for the level, total points, bonus points for unused tools (shuffles and hammers) and a completion bonus for filling out all of the stamps.
Bonuses are also provided for different combinations of answers, such as answering a string of tiles that have the same solution in a row (for example, answering 5 questions that all have 6 as their answer). This helps to develop thinking of math facts in groups – all these facts add up to 10 for example – a vital skill. Timers do appear on the screen that increase in length as difficulty levels increase but they can be hidden simply if your child experiences timer anxiety.
Each operation includes 25 game levels that can be individually selected from the operation menu – each displays with the answer range at the top. For example, in addition level 1 has answers 0-1, as the levels progress answer numbers (sums) become higher, going up to 1-3, 2-4, 3-6 etc. before eventually encompassing answers from 0-20. The size of tiles also decreases to allow room for more questions on the game board.
The app builds with difficulty in each level, slowly introducing new facts and removing simpler ones until it reaches the 10 facts before adding the simpler facts back into the mix for a fuller selection of questions. Multiplication is the exception, where the facts simply increase in difficulty as the levels progress. Facts from 0+0 to 10+10 are covered in addition, 0-0 to 18-9 are given in subtraction, 0×0 to 10×10 are included in multiplication, and 0/1 through to 100/10 are practiced in division.
By default each level is unlocked as the player progresses (at least 1 star for the previous level) – this is called Challenge mode. In the app’s settings you can also choose Freeplay mode which lets you select any level – they all unlock but reset if Mathtopia is quit then reopened. You can also choose to hide the timer bar and the hints, mute the app, or adjust the volume, as well as switching between players.
The free lite version includes all 25 levels of addition and includes the option to purchase full individual operations (subtraction, multiplication, division) for $0.99 as well as Roman Numerals and Fractions+ for $0.99 each. When you decide to quit playing a game a variety of statistics are shown, the final level, equations solved, lifetime equations solved in one game, swaps matched, longest equation streak, longest match streak, and final score.
Unobtrusive Game Center integration is provided with a variety of awards and achievements, but more importantly (to us) is the internal high score board that allows family members to rank against each other. The top ten high scores can be viewed in the awards tab that shows the highest level achieved (up to 30 levels can be accessed through continuous play – 26-30 are almost hidden bonus levels). Times for the player logged in can also be displayed under Time in the Awards screen. Speed per calculation is shown per operation with a color-coded system displaying difficulty level. Different screens are provided for each operation.
Other Notes: The full app doesn’t include any advertising or email links; it does include external and social media links in the Parents & Teachers screen and the Omega Labs information screen that can be accessed from the main page. The free lite version includes the above as well as an in-app purchase options.
What We Liked:
Since I installed Mathtopia+ on the school iPad (mostly used by our oldest girl), I’ve found our 10-year-old ‘sneaking’ time on the iPad and playing it for fun. Do I mind if she’s hiding somewhere with the iPad answering math fact questions as quickly as possible to develop mastery and fluency? Ummm, no.
To me, that’s always one of the key signs of a successful educational app. Not only is it directly educational, it’s also engaging enough to ‘call out’ to its players, encouraging them to come back and play again, and again, and again. The gem-matching puzzle-style is well proven to be addictive – the addition of math facts to the mix is just incredibly creative and effective – I love it.
The combination of gaming process and math facts is smooth, so that the application of math knowledge is essential to game progression. One of the big motivators for children is feeling like the academic skills they learn in school have a purpose – here they do! You need to solve those math questions to move ahead in the game, to earn points, to blast rows of gems, intrinsic motivation – Mathtopia has it in spades.
I also taught my 7-year-old to play and she rates it highly as well – it was exciting for me as a mom to see her put those budding math skills to use. I love how the levels start so simply, allowing even young children to access the game, and then build up to mastery of all of the core math facts. Your child can stick to the levels for facts they’ve been introduced to and progress as they are able. Even if you have an older child in need of remedial math fact practice, the app design is perfect for learners of all ages, not childish at all (even fun for adults!)
This is definitely one to try out in the free version, it’s pretty easy to get the hang of it once it’s in your hands and your children can practice addition for free!
What We Didn’t Like:
The app doesn’t include a pause button, sometimes we fake it by hitting the quit button and then choosing the resume button. It takes some practice and experience to figure out the bonuses and tools (shuffle and hammer) and there are no verbal instructions for pre-readers. I’d love it if the High Scores board was divided into operations, instead of overall mixed scores – this would help family members compare their performance in addition vs. multiplication etc.
Mathtopia+ is so compelling you might find you and your children sneaking time on the iPad to play this educational game. Combining comprehensive math fact practice in all four main operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) with the addictive game-play of three (or more) jewels in a row matching games, something about this app makes you want to keep going and going!
Have you downloaded this app? Let us know what you and your children thought – leave a comment!