Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2018
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Simple challenges make addition and subtraction practice fun, funny

Subjects & skills
  • Math

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.
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Pros: Game is so engaging that it's easy for kids to forget they're practicing math.

Cons: Some levels are far more difficult than others; in-app purchase required after intro levels.

Bottom Line: This is a cute, absorbing way for kids to practice basic arithmetic.

Teachers can use MathTango to encourage kids to practice previously learned addition and subtraction skills on their own. Encourage older students to complete the puzzles without the use of manipulatives and to rely on their previously memorized addition and subtraction facts, and quick recall, to solve each. Connect some of the skills presented in the app to real life: Help students explore the concepts in the app with everyday circumstances, such as adding money or separating items into groups.

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MathTango is an app that gamifies addition and subtraction practice for first- through third-grade kids. Listen to the intro from your "long-lost Uncle Fibonacci," and then tap the gem to get your first monster. To get more gems after the first, you have to complete math-based puzzles. Continue to follow the audio- and visual-based instructions to complete the puzzles, which require some basic addition and subtraction skills. Players earn "doubloon" and "health" bonuses as they complete more puzzles. Then your monster can buy things to enhance the island. Tap to purchase items, and tap and hold on monsters to move them. Watch the cute monster jump on the trampoline. Mission accomplished! Move on to your next mission with another monster.

More than 200 math puzzle games cover basic skills, such as adding single-digit numbers, adding doubles, 10s, and more. The games are short and simple (but challenging), and the monsters are cute. As kids progress through the game, the math problems become more difficult. Higher levels of the game (and the free-play mode) require an in-app purchase.

MathTango is the ideal combination of straightforward addition and subtraction practice with straight-up cuteness and fun. Kids can often become bored with rote addition and subtraction practice, but this gamified app turns repetitive math problems into a challenge to get more monsters, decorate an island, and move up levels. Students can get in-app hints and tips, if needed.

On the downside, some levels can take quite a long time to move through, so some students may get frustrated or bored; in that case, encourage students to team up to complete that challenge. And the limited mechanics of moving the blocks might also frustrate some kids; it would be great to have more freedom of placement. 

Overall Rating

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

Adorable monsters paired with easy-to-understand math puzzles in a create-your-world game that's easy to play.

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

More than 200 addition and subtraction puzzle games covering addition and subtraction concepts.

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

Intro tutorial with both audio and visual instructions. Easy to keep track of points earned and new monsters added to your island.

Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

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