Review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2012
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Math Magic

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Encourage and empower with flexible, fun basic math app

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Teachers say (4 Reviews)
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K-6 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Simple, flexible, empowering, colorful -- an ideal combination for young mathematicians.

Cons: The gameplay menu is too small, and some icon images are unclear.

Bottom Line: Solid and attractive arithmetic app scales easily to reach a range of student skill levels.

This would work really well as a warm-up activity before a quiz on one of the skills it addresses, or as a fun reward after a successful day in class. The timed challenges could create some healthy competition among students, but overall, the warmth and encouraging nature of this app works for struggling students as well as kids who've mastered the material.

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Math Magic is a simple arithmetic program that quizzes kids in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. From the main play space, users can select individual operators or countable objects, or, from the preferences page, select negative numbers, any combination of operators for timed challenges, or a maximum number -- 5, 10, or 20 -- to use in expressions (addends, subtrahends, products, or quotients). Timed challenge mode allows kids to see how many correct answers they can get in a minute, though no data is kept.

The play space consists of a mathematic expression, four answer choices (fill-in-the-blank option for iOS only), and a running tally of correct and incorrect answers. Kids tap the correct answer or choose to advance to the next expression by shaking or clicking the arrow button. Cheerful and enthusiastic kids' voices celebrate correct answers with phrases and green checks, while incorrect answers result in a small red cross and a short device vibration (plus optional gentle encouragement urging kids to try again until they get it right). Kids earn ribbons, cupcakes, stars, and flowers for correct answers.

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The app's appeal lies in its flexibility and scalability: Kids have lots of choices, and there's lots of room for different skill levels to practice here. It's also very encouraging, which should keep kids coming back and feeling confident. It's a pretty straightforward quiz app, so there's not a ton of learning depth, but kids'll enjoy its cute perks (Cupcakes for right answers? Yes, please!), and with repeated practice, lessons should stick.

The Android version has no levels, so gameplay can feel endless. The only other downsides are that the counting objects icon is cryptic (magic wand), the gameplay menu is too small (Android only), and data doesn't save even when preferences are changed. It's not super exciting, but graphics are colorful, the interface is intuitive, and encouragement is extensive.

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Overall Rating

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

Graphics are colorful, crisp, and charming. Kids will hear other kid voices cheering them on when they get correct answers; this virtual peer encouragement is great and should keep kids coming back.

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

Ability to choose operators, negative numbers, and numbers up to 20 is empowering; optional counting objects extends learning and age range, but wand icon to select is cryptic.

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

Data doesn't get saved from game to game. The menu to select operators and settings is too small, but it adds great flexibility in the gameplay space.

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Kristy (GAE) L. , Media specialist/librarian
Media specialist/librarian
P.S. 200 Benson
Brooklyn, NY
Fantastic Math Facts Drill!

I am a big fan of the old fashioned drill techniques. This app offers the opportunity to practice quick facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I really liked the option to "randomize" the operation and the preferences page allows you to set many things such as number range and challenge time. The app offers instant feedback, positive reinforcement and an opportunity to choose the correct answer after you have made a mistake. I had to choose a lower rating for support as it does lend itself to scaffolding - it's basically drill. It does however offer praise verbally - and there is nothing for the student to read. It's a big thumbs up from this classroom!

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