Common Sense Review
Updated September 2012

Fun Math Tricks

Visually dull app teaches shortcuts to advanced math students
Common Sense Rating 2
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 3
  • Kids can select “Play Challenge!” to play a timed challenge game.
  • Step-by-step instructions for multiplying square numbers ending in 5.
  • After learning a trick, kids practice using it, then check their answers.
  • The challenge game options are “Number Challenge” and “Minute Challenge.”
  • During the “Number Challenge” game, after answering you can view the trick.
Pros
Mastery of these shortcuts can build a student's confidence and, potentially, test scores.
Cons
It's graphically boring, and the "Wrong!" response could be discouraging.
Bottom Line
Smart, helpful tricks will appeal mainly to kids who already have a solid base in math and are motivated to learn more.
Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 2
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

Self-motivated kids may learn these math tricks, but there's not much effort here in the way of design or explanation to engage those who aren't already interested.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

The focus here is teaching 25 shortcuts to kids who already have a solid understanding of basic math facts and operations.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Basic data like current score and high score appear, but there's no supplemental explanation, just the basics of each trick. Kids can return to a trick's instruction page if they answer incorrectly.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Fun Math Tricks won't exactly wow you with bells and whistles. You get very basic data, such as how much time is left in the timed challenge, and your number of correct answers is broken into current score and overall high score. It's likely to frustrate kids who don't already know their multiplication tables, square roots, and other mid-level math skills. For students who've mastered those, it can help boost their confidence and performance.

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What's It Like?

The main screen on Fun Math Tricks lists 25 math shortcuts. Tap on the trick you want to learn, and a new screen opens with the lesson written in clear steps as well as examples, followed by a few practice problems. Students enter the answer and tap Check to find out if they answered correctly. They also can select Play Challenge! on the main screen to play one of two timed challenge games. Kids work away as the timer counts down. If they run out of time, a box with "Wrong!" (yikes) and the correct answer pops up, along with the option to go back to the trick or move on to the next problem.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Students should already have a solid skill base in fundamental math operations before diving into Fun Math Tricks. The 25 secrets, from multiplying two-digit numbers to squaring numbers, can definitely help them get to solutions more quickly, but only if they understand the basics and have a lot of the basic facts memorized.

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