Caboose: Learn Patterns and Sorting with Letters, Numbers, Shapes and Colors

Caboose: Learn Patterns and Sorting with Letters,      Numbers, Shapes and Colors

by AtReks

As our train nears 170 reviews, we are excited to hop on the recently updated educational app, Caboose: Learn Patterns and Sorting with Letters, Numbers, Shapes and Colors by developer AtReks. Your train conductor, a sweet looking dinosaur will offer you two tickets, one that will have you traveling around the United States as you learn about patterns and another that will take you across Europe where your little one will sort items and build their vocabulary.  Go on this amazing journey as it was built to work on all Apple devices running iOS 4.0 or later. Which ticket will your toddler, preschooler or kindergartener take first?  With their recent update, Caboose has implemented a wonderful new menu screen.  The graphics and organization has truly improved since our last exploration and why our readers need to be aware of these updates and how it is applicable to you!

Prior to becoming a first class passenger, it is important that an educator or parent explore the “cog” wheels or options menu in the upper right hand corner.  Your train experience can drastically change as it meets your child’s learning needs.  Within this menu, parents and educators will see how pattern content and type can be altered as it meets a number of academic needs.  If your child struggles with certain fine motor skills, set the answer selection to either a tap or a drag/drop motion.  As they cross new and unusual things, provide hints and select content that is appropriate to your specific child or student.  Regardless of where the tracks may take them, verbal support and reinforcement is very evident.  With the accommodations made by the developers, your child’s mobile learning experience can be done alongside a parent or independently.

Travel by day and night as you piece together the tracks that will take you from the northeast all the way to the upper regions of the western part of the United States with every correct answer.  Children will experience and reinforce six different types of patterns which are taught in the early elementary years.  These various patterns, A-B, A-A-B, A-B-C will be incorporated with learning upper/lower case letters, shapes, colors and sounds.  Visit some of the most famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, White House, and the San Francisco Bridge as you learn about patterns.  A note to the developers – as the train leaves a location, might it be possible to fill in the icon on the map so children can make a real world picture connection.  We see it as another learning opportunity and possible conversations with your student or child.  Another  possible suggestion would be at the end of their trip across the United States, might they be able to make their own pattern thus showcasing what they learned.

Extend your travels now across the world to Europe as you hop on the back of a moving train and learn to sort items and build your vocabulary.  Applicable2U was really impressed with this first class passenger experience.  Developers included a number of support features that we really found useful.  For example, it integrated in the upper left hand corner a “wifi” like symbol that when tapped repeated missing directions and visually explained the necessary sorting order as well.  Through tapping of objects, reinforcing key words like “the largest, the smallest, and medium”,  and color coding for answers that are correct or incorrect, children are guided and supported from beginning to end.  When necessary such features can be turned off as users become more comfortable with the content and skill.

Applicable2U gives Caboose two thumbs up! It meets our approval for gaming with a reason.  With a very interactive and engaging design, your child will be learning and having fun at the same time.  If you would like to learn more about AtReks and the other educational apps that they have available, please visit their website here.  With a simple $1.99 download, Caboose can be added to your iTunes library by clicking here.

32 HD

32 HD

by William Gann

Have you ever played the card game Blackjack? It is one of the more popular casino games played all around the world. Known as a banking game in which the aim of the player is to achieve a hand whose points total nearer to 21 than the banker’s hand, but without exceeding 21. You might be wondering why I am referring to a casino game on an educational app review website. This is an excellent question! The game of Blackjack requires players to think on their toes, to add numbers quickly and to leave feeling like a winner. In January of this year, app developer William Gann, created a math application that is simply called 32. While reviewing this educational app, the card game Blackjack came to mind. This very fast paced educational game, 32, also requires players to be on their toes and to use a great deal of thinking in order to be successful. Designed for your iPad device running iOS 3.2 or later, late elementary to even adults will be challenged by this number game.

Amazingly, it is filled with 5 levels of difficulty with over 200 mathematical puzzles in which players must use their higher order thinking skills as it meets a number of math standards along the way.  Although there isn’t a banker per say, the objective is quite the same as Blackjack. The only difference, with only four to five cards, a players total must be equal to 32. Each level within the game builds upon the mathematical concept of the orders of operation. When solving an equation that implements multiple operations, there is a rule that one must follow. Like reading a book, we read from left to right. This same rule applies when solving a mathematical equation, while also keeping in mind what many educators and students know as PEMDAS. PEMDAS is short for “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” an acronym for: parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, adding and subtracting. Regardless of which level is chosen, players are timed, not in the traditional sense, but rather by point value. Upon entering a level, players will see 4-5 colored cards, a fill in the blank equation and a countdown in the upper left hand corner. The countdown begins, not surprisingly, at 3200 points. The quicker you drag and drop cards into the correct position, the more points you earn. Scores are stored within the application based on the highest points earned within each level.

Come up to the chalkboard and show off what you know at each level. 32 is not difficult to navigate. As you enter the classroom, players will be provided general directions on “How to Play” as well as written tutorials upon entering each leveled game. Levels are clearly defined prior to game play. While manipulating cards and solving puzzles in levels 1 – 3, players will have access to only four moveable playing cards in which to get an equation equalling 32. It is important to note, that levels progressively incorporate the orders of operation.

Level 1 – consists of puzzles involving only addition.
Level 2 – consists of puzzles involving adding and subtracting.
Level 3 – consists of puzzles involving adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and parentheses.

Upon entering Level 4, players will immediately notice a slight change in the number of cards available. Instead of four moveable cards, players now have to manipulate and build an equation containing five numbers equalling 32. Puzzles in Level 4 contain the same available operations as level 3. The final challenge happens in Level 5, when players must manipulate four numbers to equal a total of 32 as it integrates all aspects of the orders of operation, exponents included.

There are a number of things that Applicable2U likes about this math application. As software becomes obsolete due to more and more schools implementing mobile devices in school, an application like 32 will certainly have a place in a classroom, on the go, or at home. It very nicely fits the late elementary curriculum standards and can stimulate the oldest of minds. 32 would work as a center activity or part of a whole group lesson with your iPad connected to a large screen projector as mathematical conversations are sparked. Or use just to stimulate ones mind at home in order to reinforce and master skills being taught at school.  Although we are an advocate of the game, there are some things we hope the developers will take into consideration when looking at their next update.

– Might it be possible for those just learning this mathematical skill or who need additional support to incorporate something like a video screencast or jing video modeling the solving procedures prior to playing. By integrating this added feature, your mobile application will be differentiating the learning for all students.

– Also, have you thought about allowing for multiple accounts within the application.  As puzzles are solved, might it be possible to include a username submission box which stores the Top 10 scores within each level.  Thus showing progress made by multiple users.

– For some students or users, the point value timer may be overwhelming.  Might it be possible to set the timer as an option that can be set to on/off as needed.  As suggested by one of our students, the point timer could even be invisible.  It is not until the game is done that this numerical value appears.  In addition, to continue on the theme of added support, might a scratch pad be made available in which users can jot down their work.  As players moved onto levels 4 and 5, this scratch pad feature could become locked after so many attempts at opening it up.

Overall, Applicable2u gives the educational math app 32, two thumbs up!  We have been on the look out for supplemental activities to reinforce such math skills and believe that we have found a winner in 32!!  We were amazed to see that it only costs .99¢ to download to our iPad device.  If you would like to learn more about William Gann, please visit his website here.  It’s time to stimulate your brain and apply known number facts as you follow the orders of operation while playing 32 in the palm of your hands, click here to download today!

Answer 2 Equations

Answer 2 Equations

By Alan Yungen Chien

How often do you spend time playing cards with your child(ren) or students?  Card playing is both academically and socially appropriate for all age levels.  Recently, my kindergartner came home from school looking to teach me a new math card game he had learned that day.  The math program at his school, Everyday Math, emphasizes the curriculum through real-world and concrete examples.  In addition, it provides repeated exposure to various concepts and skills.  That days “at home” math lesson was showing that through a card game, my son was learning math.  As I knew it, it was just a game called “War” when I was a young child.  Cards can be fun as it challenges, sparks ones problem solving skills as they form logical strategies,  all at the same time.  Today’s review is just that!  Recently launched at the end of January, Answer 2 Equations will in fact blow you away as one of their levels of difficulties states.  Designed for an iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later, players will be addicted to understand how to play with every flip of a card.  Use your addition, subtraction, multiplication or division skills to find a match.

Upon entering Answer 2 Equations, card players will be given four options of  play: Easy, Ambitious, Challenging and Mind Blowing.  Prior to making ones choice, it would be important to preview the “Help” button in the lower left hand corner of the screen.  Here players will be provided a written explanation of the objective and how to play within each level.  Regardless of which level of play is chosen, the objective is the same, using 2 or more cards and your knowledge of +,-, x, and ÷, players must find a solution that will match the answer card that is given.  A note to the developers, as parents or children begin to comprehend this educational card app, might it be possible to include not only written explanations, but also some screen shots or video tutorials at each stage of the card game.  Although Applicable2U was capable of reading the “Help” guide, some of the game features were slightly confusing.  Prior to playing, it would be wonderful to see in action the necessary gestures to remove incorrectly tapped cards or how to complete a multi-step mathematical equation.

Each level of play has one thing in common, the screen layout.  On the left hand side, appears the applications name and logo, however, with one simple tap here it will navigate players back to the main menu.  What appears to be an empty gray box is where the problem(s) are created as players attempt to match their solution cards to the answer card right below.  In need of help, simply tap the “help” button and additional options will be provided: Give me a hint, Show full solution, and Don’t need help anymore.  In other levels of play, one additional help feature is added, where players may need an additional card or two.  At the top of the screen, there are a number of options or selections that can change ones game.  When playing in the Easy, Ambitious or Challenging mode, users can increase or decrease the number of cards needed in order to solve and match the answer card.  Games can be timed or untimed, depending on your learning style or academic needs.  The clock setting ranges from 99:00 all the way down to 5:00.  As you attempt to make a mathematical match, use the four colored operations at the top of the screen.  The largest part of the playing screen is designated to the cards.  Cards have numbers on them ranging from 1-12.  There are no zeros nor are negative numbers integrated.  In addition, cards will have the four operations, one of which is circled.  It is important to note, that this circled feature is only used in the more advanced levels.  A note to the developers – might it be possible to build an options menu on the main screen where players could turn the circled operation on/off when it is not academically necessary for game play.  For some learning styles, playing cards may appear too busy.

Answer 2 Equations is very sequential as the levels of difficulty certainly build upon each other.   When playing in the Easy mode, users are developing their number facts as they strategically comprehend how various number combinations can make a similar solution.  While in the Ambitious mode, users are now given a small amount of cards (3-8) which they must then use to build an equation that will  match the answer card.  In this mode, players will need to be familiar with multi-step problem solving.  While problem solving, developers have provided players with a virtual scrap pad since calculators are not allowed.  As players academically progress, the Challenging mode will begin to integrate the circled arithmetic symbol on the answer card.  When finding the solutions in this mode, the circled operation on the answer card must be the last step or function that is performed in order to come up with its solution.  The final mode of play is the Mind Blowing.  Here users are given five cards, solutions must still match the answer card, however, operations can only be used once. The order in which they are used is not important, although it might be interesting to integrate this idea for a future update. Having reviewed many math applications, there are few that Applicable2U has come across that reinforces the orders of operation, PEMDAS. Most educators will refer to the orders of operation by an acronym – Please, Excuse, My, Dear, Aunt, Sally.

Overall, Applicable2U would give this educational math card application two thumbs up!  Math can be found in so many real world situations. Answer 2 Equations is unlike any flashcard, repetition, math game application.   Once game play is understood and the necessary finger taps and slides are grasped, you will not want to turn off your device.  While playing, various emotions will be had along the way, from frustration, to times of complete success.  Regardless, your elementary to middle schooler will be gaming with a reason as they use their higher order thinking skills and apply those strategies learned from their classroom environment.  Come play and have fun with Answer 2 Equations today by downloading it to your iTunes library for only $1.99.

Math Plus Minus – Early Numbers and Arithmetic

Math Plus Minus – Early Numbers & Arithmetic

by pkclSoft

Come “squirrel” away your food for the winter as your child practices their addition and subtraction skills with Math Plus Minus, an educational app for your Apple device running iOS 4.0 or later. This most recent educational app, Math Plus Minus, is from the developers, pkclSoft, who launched Tap Times Tables for a slightly older group of children or students looking to practice their multiplication skills. They are back at it again, but this time focusing on a younger generation of children just learning early numbers and arithmetic skills. How many acorns will you be able to store away for the winter before it’s too late? With a variety of game changing challenges, children of many age levels, pre-school to late elementary, will find that Math Plus Minus is applicable to them.

Upon entering this educational app, players will have a sense of being out in the cold. Let your body chill as you listen to original music by Kevin Macleod. But don’t get too relaxed, it’s snowing out and the squirrels needs your help. Take complete control of your mathematical experience as you tap away to set “game play” options. From the main menu screen “pop” the cogwheel icon in the bottom right hand corner. Here parents and children can decide two things: What is the biggest number to be added or subtracted and How many questions will need to be answered. With each return visit these settings can be changed, making the mathematical experience different each time. Simply drag and drop the spinning star from left to right and place it over the number/question. Numbers and questions will range from 10-100. While in this “options” screen, at the bottom of the window, users can also set the music, sound or game timer to be either on/off. One last feature available for those older mathematicians is the option to solve arithmetic sentences that incorporate negative numbers. The objective is to collect as many acorns as possible, will that happen with addition, subtraction or a combination of both type of problems. Your mathematical squirrel friend is all bundled up and ready for you “pop” the correct sum or difference.

Successful answers will increase the squirrels acorn pile for the winter. Game play can happen in two ways: practice/learn or challenge mode. Regardless of which mode of play that is chosen, problems are written horizontally. A note to the developers – For some learners, math sentences written horizontally may be challenging. Might it be possible to add a horizontal/vertical check off box when selecting a users gaming options? Very positively, this application does incorporate borrowing and carrying over from one place value to the next and it seems academically appropriate that students see numeric sentences written in both formats. When playing to learn or practice, numeric sentences will appear as a question along the snowy floor. Four multiple choice number bubbles will be provided, an answer can not be tapped until all bubbles are exposed. Once exposed, simply tap your answer and visually and verbally, mathematicians will be reinforced. If correct, a green check mark will appear and the squirrel will shout for joy. An additional note to the developers – might it be possible when a correct answer has been chosen that the green check mark appear over the correct answer rather than the middle of the screen. Another idea might be that the correct answer appears as a completed number sentence along the snowy floor for further academic reinforcement. If incorrect, a red “x” will appear, the squirrel however, will provide the player with some words of encouragement and two additional turns. If after the third turn, a correct answer is not given, then a new problem will be provided.

As a player becomes more familiar with their number facts, then it is time to set the challenge even higher. From the main menu, locate the floating “challenge” bubble. Those options that you initially set continue in this mode, however, this time the mathematical question is missing a piece of the number sentence. The user is expected to scan the various number choices and complete the number sentence. The quicker you respond, the more points you will earn. Numbered bubbles will slowly disappear with each correct challenge question. The challenge is over once all the bubbles have disappeared and the squirrel has what he came for, more acorns!!

It is important to note that scores are maintained and recorded through your devices Game Center app. However, prior to playing, players can choose whether or not to add this educational app to their Game Center. Whether the mobile device is being used in an educational setting or for an entire family, this account should not provide any personal information when designating your user ID name. When tapping or popping the Game Center button, players will have access to a visual leader board of top points earned while playing Math Plus Minus as it compares your score across three periods of time: Today, This Week and All Time best scores. As a parent, knowing the academic successes or unsuccessful times that my child has spent gaming for a reason with this application is useful, however, I wonder if this should have a lock/unlock mode for younger children. Personally, as a parent and a teacher, I want my child or student(s) to be proud of their accomplishments, however, it is even more important as I play these two roles, that I know where the areas of difficulty occurred.

Overall, Applicable2U enjoyed gaming and learning with Math Plus Minus. Through the use of repetition and various challenges, early numbers and arithmetic can be mastered. If you would like to learn more about pkclSoft and the educational apps that they have to offer, please visit their website here. To start your collection of acorns, download Math Plus Minus from your iTunes library for $1.99 here.

Murky Reef Lite – 1st-2nd Grade Reading, Science and Math

Murky Reef Lite

by Frolyc

As the instructional technology specialist for my building, grades 3-5, I am constantly questioning myself and those that I collaborate with. A common question that I find myself asking, “is the approach or unit/lesson “true” technology integration which will meet a variety of curriculum standards?” Good integration can occur in a variety of ways, the latest being the impact that the mobile market has on education. Through our PLN (professional learning network) via Twitter, Murky Reef Lite by developers Frolyc came highly recommended and Applicable2U needed to know if in fact it was applicable to you. Designed for those with an iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later, downloaders (parents/educators) and aquatic learners will find this cross-curricular app very engaging as it enhances ones thinking skills and implements a variety of 21st century skills. Without even realizing it, this educational app has seamlessly incorporated a multitude of age appropriate skills and academic areas into one.

Frolyc is a proud member of Moms with Apps, a collaborative group of family-friendly developers. As stated on their website, Frolyc aimes to create apps that will put users to the test as they learn through questioning, exploring and yes, even frolicking in unusual places. Murky Reef was built with Bloom’s Taxonomy in mind, which means as your child or students use this application, they will be building their knowledge of the ocean, supported for comprehension, encouraged to analyze and to apply their knowledge through a number of activities. We were very impressed with their informative website and the process that was put in place when creating Murky Reef – both versions: lite and the in-app upgrade for $3.99. With so many states moving towards a new set of standards, the Common Core Standards, educators will be pleased to see that their children’s “gaming” will in fact meet some of the math and language arts standards for children ages 4-10.

Put your scuba gear on as your elementary student will be introduced to a various sea life creatures in the imaginary waters of Murky Reef. Through the use of very clear and concise tutorials, pictorial supports, pleasurable characters, animation and sound effects, ones curiosity will be sparked. Unlike most “lite” versions, Murky Reef does in fact provide users with a good amount of content. The lite version will give users access to 6 cross curricular areas: Number Sense, Spot Rhyming Words, Greater Than, “Not In” Letter, Addition 1-10 and a comprehension quiz. However, in the full upgrade, users will be given a total of 22 games as it builds on vocabulary, sight words, word synthesis, number patterns and sentence structure/composition to name just a few. Regardless of which version is downloaded to your mobile device, along with interactive graphics and audio, users will also have access to informative text and safe videos as they explore such science topics as: the coral reef ecosystem, habitat and prey/predator relationships, and an introduction to sharks, pufferfish, cleaner fish and many more.

While scouring the murky seas, your objective is to stop Ogee, the unfriendly Shark. With each level completed, players will earn fish rewards that can be manipulated in “creature play” mode. With 18 different sea creatures to collect, their fish tank will be filled with the schools of fish that they have saved. To learn more about those schools saved, drag them over your submarine and a pop up textbox will appear. A note to the developers – since this is an educational app for children as young as 4, might it be possible to include a reading option of this informational text if the application is being used independently. As the “Attack” and “Creature” modes are designed for the players, developers have also included a little something for parents and/or educators. With a simple tap of our four-eyed turtle friend in the lower right hand corner, parents and educators will have access to a very detailed report of how a user is doing. Reports will share the number of attempts made in each “Attack” mode and the percentage of correct answers. In addition, it will provide a break down of skills based on: comprehension, logical reasoning, language arts and math. Another suggestion for a future update might be to put a lock mode on our turtle friend as this information is most important to the parents and/or educator as it can guide them for future instruction and support.

Applicable2U was very impressed with our Twitter find and would definitely give it a five star rating. Making cross curricular connections in multiple platforms and educational environments is critical. Those questioning whether to implement a 1:1 iPad pilot program or even to purchase for personal home usage need to see the educational connections that developers like Frolyc are making. If you would like to learn more about Frolyc, please visit their website here. To begin exploring Murky Reef Lite, simply click here to access via your iTunes library. However, if interested in the full version, simply click here.