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Review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2013

Math Runner Plus

Cute birds don't make up for shortcomings in mental math app

Subjects & skills
  • Math

  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Slick, charming visuals and audio should appeal to the Angry Birds set.

Cons: Levels ramp way too slowly, and odd game goals don't provide enough real-life context for good skills transfer.

Bottom Line: Visually engaging mental addition app needs tighter levels, better pacing, and more variety.

You could use this app as a warm-up for real class quizzes; it gets kids in the zone of mental math even though it's not very exciting. Kindergartners through second graders with a solid grasp of addition concepts, who know how to set up a problem both vertically and horizontally and are ready to take on mental math for one- and two-digit numbers, could take on the first three levels. Third graders might enjoy the challenge of adding up to six addends at once in the last level but will be turned off by the easier levels.

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Editor's Note: Math Runner Plus has closed and is no longer available.

Math Runner Plus is a math game teaching addition skills for early elementary levels. Cartoonish and nature-themed, it gives kids practice in adding single- and double-digit numbers. Small stylized birds and other critters fly addends in bubbles across various terrains toward a larger bird sporting an empty bubble for the target sum. Kids tap nests with possible sums to release baby birds that rise into the air, mount a platform, and turn into marbles at the end. If kids select an incorrect sum, the baby birds disappear, the correct sum appears, and a "You Lose" message accompanies a small pulsing skull and crossbones.

Main menu levels -- easy, medium, hard, (even) very hard -- all start out the same: lowest single digits, literally 1 + 2 = 3. Each game consists of nearly 30 equations, but you must finish in order to collect your score. Each of the five levels contains 50 games of varying difficulty.

Math Runner Plus offers depth in mental adding skills but lacks variety and challenging pace. The visuals are engaging, with colorful scenes as backgrounds, but too busy overall. It's truly difficult to figure out where to tap or what you're supposed to do at first, even after reading instructions. The sounds are unique –- a marble hitting a hard surface, birds squawking –- but the squawk for an incorrect answer is the same as for a correct one. Confusing! Every single game at every single level is the same, just with a different background and different numbers; talk about repetitive. Also, scoring is complicated and quite meaningless when it comes to actually judging skill levels and improvement. Difficulty ramps up slowly, and some kids will be frustrated with random returns to easier material.

The not-so-bad: Through very slowly advancing levels and lots of repetition, kids will practice adding one- and two-digit numbers in their head, then select the correct sum. Lots of audio and visual bells and whistles will keep it interesting for some kids; others will get bored fast. However, the sound of running water and slow pace could be calming for kids who get overexcited.

Overall Rating

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

Sights and sounds are engaging but sometimes confusing. Gameplay is repetitive -- you have to do a lot of the same before you get to the end of a game, which is the only way to save your score.

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

Content has narrow application. App doesn't always respond to progress. Users don't see mistakes until much later. The deepest challenge is remembering multiple numbers while adding more.

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

Help is simply the first game played for you with an overlay of the equation 1+2=3, a nice feature absent from the rest of the game. Limited scoring available from the main menu; somewhat meaningless scores appear at the end of each game.

Teacher Reviews

Featured review by
Kathy V. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Little Disappointing
I don't really recommend this app, there are better 'flash card' apps out there and overall, I found the app to be visually overwhelming, the sounds confusing and the challenge level quite low. Save your money and try a different app.
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