App review by Carrie Garges, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2020
MathTango
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MathTango

Fun computation practice in monster-themed world-building game

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Grades
K–5
Subjects & Skills
Math

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Pros: Kids will look forward to earning the next monster after each mission.

Cons: A help or hint feature could keep kids from getting frustrated.

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

MathTango is a great way to get kids excited to practice their math facts. Students will beg for time to build their worlds, so this is a perfect incentive activity. Daily Quests are opportunities for kids to try their hand at word problems and could be included as part of the morning classroom routine. Kids can follow their individualized lesson plan to focus on skills.

The games are also engaging enough to play as a class. Play together or as teams to see who can complete the missions fastest or earn the most points. From the home screen, adults can check off lessons they want to be included and can even remove all but one lesson to help focus a daily lesson on specific facts. In this way, teachers can even use a mission as an independent homework assignment.

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MathTango uses gaming and world building to engage K–5 kids in basic computation practice. If mastering addition and subtraction is the goal, players are whisked away to a tropical island for practice counting, adding, and subtracting. If players want more multiplication and division practice, they find themselves using their fact families to build and run a space station! 

When players have successful missions -- including finding hidden treasures, interacting with characters, or purchasing items -- they are rewarded with new monster or robot friends.  Math practice begins when players solve puzzles and earn points to spend on items to keep these new friends fed, happy, and dancing. The puzzles are more than rote memorization and keep students engaged with interesting ways to practice basic arithmetic facts. The skill progression is thoroughly planned out, and challenge levels increase as students do well. Lesson plans help differentiate, and lessons are also customizable to suit individual students' needs.

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.

The cute characters and addictive world-building of MathTango will be a great hook for what could normally be dull rote practice. Although some missions may take a few minutes, the app has struck a nice balance between play and practice. Puzzles offer multiple rounds to help solidify the math facts and the missions, and dance parties offer fun, but short, brain breaks. And it's great that kids can use it entirely offline, so the app's not dependent on a school's Wi-Fi.

Without lessons embedded in the program or a help feature to redirect players even after multiple incorrect answers, teachers should be certain to introduce MathTango after they've taught the necessary skills and to monitor progress to prevent frustration. Also, 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, so it would be great to have more freedom of placement. 

Overall Rating

Engagement

This engaging world-building game is paired with easy-to-play puzzles, creating a super-fun practice platform.

Pedagogy

Lessons offer plenty of computation practice and cover many developmental skills along the way.

Support

The tutorial combines both text and spoken instructions. Games are easy to play, but missing feedback features or hints may result in discouraged players who are not ready for independent practice.


Common Sense reviewer
Carrie Garges Classroom teacher

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