Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2014
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3rd Grade Splash Math Game

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Cheerful digital workbook reinforces range of math skills

Subjects & skills
Skills
N/A

Subjects
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: Highly interactive worksheets cover a range of skills with a fun and engaging ocean theme.

Cons: Lack of constructive feedback limits what struggling kids can learn.

Bottom Line: With 16 chapters covering a huge range of Common Core-aligned skills, this is an excellent tool for practicing third-grade math.

The primary goal of this math tool is to help kids practice and build fluency. You could use the practice mode as a daily warm-up activity and the play mode as a post-lesson assessment. Encourage kids to earn as many points as possible and take a few minutes to let them play the aquarium games as a reward for hard work. If you need differentiated instruction for struggling or gifted kids, use the options in the parents' section to customize the worksheets.

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3rd Grade Math: Splash Math Worksheets Game is a cheerful, comprehensive tool that helps kids practice and strengthen a wide range of math skills. Kids can use the practice mode to complete worksheets and the play mode to test their knowledge. A built-in scratch pad lets kids write out calculations. Each mode includes three levels, which must each be complete before the next one is unlocked. A customizable math facts option can help improve fluency. Kids earn points for correct answers, and their scores are tracked. The Prizes option takes kids to a screen where they can use their points to build an aquarium and play games. The parents' section lets adults customize the worksheets, quizzes, and math facts to include a specific number of questions up to 100. Tap to view a progress report and a history of gameplay. Up to five kids can use the app, making it easy to share in the classroom.

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Kids get in-depth practice with skills ranging from addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to measurement, probability, and geometry. Kids can start by completing worksheets and then test their knowledge by taking quizzes. They earn points for correct answers, but feedback only prompts kids to try again when they get it wrong. It would be great if kids could see solutions or explanations as part of the feedback. Earning prizes to build the aquarium is fun, and the progress reports are impressive. Three levels of learning and lots of customizable options make the app especially helpful for differentiated instruction. Kids will enjoy "splashing" around as they learn and play.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Bright, cheerful graphics draw kids in, and interactive features like popping bubbles and dragging shapes keep kids interested.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Skills are well covered across three levels of learning, and customizable worksheets help kids focus on specific content. Better feedback for incorrect answers would help struggling kids.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Navigation is easy, and the parents' section is loaded with customizable options and explanations of game features. The wealth of information is a bit overwhelming.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Katelyn D. , Student
Student
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, CO
Great for practicing math skills, wide range of skills, some privacy concerns, not a replacement for instruction

Age Group: Grades K-5
Content Area: Mathematics
Specific Skills: place value, number sense, addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, division, geometry, decimals, measurements, data, time, money, counting, compare numbers, math facts, graphs, mixed operations, algebra, decimal arithmetic
Price:
Classroom Basic - Free
Classroom Premium - $240/yr for 30 students, 2500+ skills plus more reports
School Premium - Contact for pricing, adds administrator dashboard and professional development among other things
Website includes information about services offered at each level, as well as information about funding and grants
There is also a home edition available

Claims & Evidence:
Stated Goal:
“Get Personalized Learning Path Fit for Catching Up, Enrichment, or Regular Practice”
“Personalized learning path intelligently adapts to the way each child learns”
“Comprehensive curriculum: achieve mastery in 350+ math skills”
“Interactive games and rewards motivate children to learn and improve their scores”
“Get real-time progress dashboard that pinpoints trouble spots”

Evidence Regarding Product Claims:
As is clear from the extensive list of specific skills above, this product provides students to practice applying many different mathematical concepts. The app breaks out activities first by grade-level (K-5), and then by topic (data, time, money, algebra, addition, fractions, etc). Within a specific activity, there are several types of problems for students to solve. There are Yes/No (analogous to True/False), multiple choice, and matching questions. The app is not designed to accept and evaluate original user input, so all of the questions have the student selecting between a number of provided options.
Overall, I do not believe that use of the app alone is sufficient for students to “achieve mastery,” one of the stated product goals on the website. While the app provides students the opportunity to practice many different concepts and problem types, they are fundamentally reactionary in nature, requiring students to select the correct response rather than thoughtfully generate a response based on their knowledge and understanding of the concept.
Students earn “coins” for correct answers. These “coins” can be used to unlock various games within the app, but the games are very simplistic, have little if anything to do with math, and are frankly much less exciting than other games students can access through the bevy of free non-educational apps available. I’m not convinced that the games provide sufficient motivation for children to use this app without the prompting of an adult.
The user interface is attractive, with an ocean scene and music playing along with encouraging statements after correct answers. Some questions use visual aids (numberlines, diagrams, etc) to support learning. When a question is answered incorrectly, a dialog pops up giving the correct answer, and sometimes an explanation. This immediate feedback supports student learning as they do not have to wait for a teacher to grade a worksheet or quiz (Zhang et al, 2015). Additionally, the app is self-paced - there is no timer pushing students to answer questions at a predetermined rate, which can benefit students by relieving some of the pressure in the learning environment.

Research:
Zhang, Trussell, Gallegos, and Asam from the University of Texas at El Paso conducted a study on touchscreen math apps and student learning in a fourth-grade classroom with 10 out of the 18 students identified either as at-risk or with a disability (Zhang et al, 2015). Students used Splash Math along with two other math apps over four sessions in a one-month period to practice concepts around decimals and multiplication, which had already been introduced in class. They had students take a pre- and post-assessment each session before and after using the math apps, to assess their growth. In Assessment 1, students showed an increase from 12.4 of 20 pre-test score to 16.9 of 20 post-test score (4.5 point improvement) after spending 40 minutes working in the Splash Math app (Zhang et al, 2015). During their work time, students were instructed to work through four problem sets, repeating as necessary until they achieved a score of 20 of 24 (Zhang et al, 2015). Interestingly, the mean gain for struggling students was above the average, showing a 5.1 point improvement, narrowing the achievement gap (Zhang et al, 2015). Notably, this study had a very small sample size, but the results do indicate that students in general and struggling students in particular benefitted from practicing their math skills in the app. It would be interesting to see a further study comparing student gains using this system with an equivalent amount of time spent on traditional paper-and-pencil worksheets.

Zhang, M., Trussell, R.P., Gallegos, B. et al. (2015). Using Math Apps for Improving Student Learning: An Exploratory Study in an Inclusive Fourth Grade Classroom. TECH TRENDS, 59: 32. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11528-015-0837-y

Privacy:
During the sign-up process, the app has a screen which says “Parents Only: To access, enter the following number.” It then has four numbers spelled out in English, and a numerical keypad (ex. one two three four). This is clearly intended to prevent young children from signing up on their own, as they would have to be capable of reading the numbers. Furthermore, the screen explicitly states that the application expects only parents to complete this.
The privacy policy clearly states that minors are not allowed to disclose personal information. Parents or guardians may submit their child’s personal information. They specifically state a desire to be notified of violations of this policy: “If you believe that a student may have provided us Children’s Personal Information without parental involvement, please contact us at…” The company uses account information to provide parents with progress reports about their child’s performance. They do not provide forums where children can communicate with other users. In terms of personal information, they collect parent’s full name, email, ZIP, payment information, child’s name and gender, IP address, username, password, and browser and location information from the user (parent) and use cookies to automatically collect traffic data. This is a huge amount of information, and specifically, I would be concerned that they collect both names and location information. They use the information for communicating with users and improving products and services. They state that cookie data is used only in aggregate form. They also share aggregate statistical data with partners. The privacy policy states that “we do not combine general information collected through cookies with other personal information… to tell us who you are.”
However, the company does work with other companies to provide services, and in order to do so they may share personal information of parents or children (in non-aggregate form) to get this done. These partners do not have right to use this information “beyond what is necessary to execute tasks at hand.” Now, I am not a lawyer by any means, but the vagueness of that phrase combined with the fact that adult or child identifying information can be shared with business partners who may have different privacy policies raises a bit of concern for me. The privacy states that “you can always opt not to disclose information, even though it may be needed to take advantage of certain features of the Website and services.” So, the privacy-conscious teacher should discuss this privacy policy with a school district’s legal team before using the software since there are some concerning elements. In particular, I would encourage a further investigation of just how little personal information one can provide and still access the services to a usable extent.

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