Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2012
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Fun Math Tricks

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Visually dull app teaches shortcuts to advanced math students

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$avg_user_learning_rating
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Grades
4-10 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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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.

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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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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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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Overall 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.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Michelle S. , Special education instructor
Special education instructor
Los Angeles County Office of Education
Downey, CA
3
Extended learning activities challenge learners to think critically

<p>This app provides the basic "tricks of the trade" for math teachers. It is very easy to navigate, however I found the step by step directions a bit confusing at times. Average Flesch Kincaid Grade Level readability was measured at 6.6. This app only provides 3 practice problems for each of the 25 "tricks" which I did not feel was sufficient for supporting retention. Practice sets could not be reset to provide additional problems. There is also a quiz option which includes questions from each of the 25 tricks. I was disappointed that there was not an option to quiz only learned items in effort to break it up a bit.</p>

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