Common Sense Review
Updated April 2013

Mystery Math Town

Clever story line pulls kids in as they work to solve problems
Common Sense Rating 4
  • The houses in Mystery Math Town hold trapped fireflies that need rescuing, but kids have to solve math problems to open doors and move through stairways.
  • Kids rescue the fireflies by tapping the jar to release them. They also tap numbers to collect them as they'll need them to solve problems and move through the house.
  • Kids can customize their math challenge level -- choosing number ranges in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • In Mystery Math Town, kids start with the answer and operator and then choose from the numbers they've collected to solve the problem.
  • After collecting golden coins, kids can buy portraits to keep in the gallery. These portraits have funny stories to share, making the reward enticing and providing a brain break.
Pros
Players solve problems in reverse, so kids get a deeper understanding of the mechanics of math.
Cons
Lack of progress tracking data makes it difficult to identify mastery of concepts or areas for improvement.
Bottom Line
Mystery Math Town poses challenging exercises in a fun, engaging way.
Amanda Bindel
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Mystery Math Town draws kids in with zany characters, a mysterious story, and fun, interactive graphics. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

The story line and characters here engage kids and give them a purpose -- to save the fireflies. In the math problems, kids see the solution and must create the problem themselves, adding a level of challenge.

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

Kids can use "lifelines" if they want to skip a problem. The tutorial on the start page includes detailed written instructions and some helpful hints. Good customization options let you tailor gameplay to a kid's skill level.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Mystery Math Town offers unlimited user profiles, which makes it ideal for use even on a shared device. Work with students to customize their profile -- kids will surely want to set up their own avatar, but you may want to set the appropriate number ranges and skills to test. Progress within each user's play will be saved. Mystery Math Town is challenging for kids, and can be a fun option for daily math skills practice. It's just lacking progress reports for students, parents, or teachers.

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What's It Like?

Kids are on a mission to help find fireflies that have been trapped in jars and hidden in houses throughout Mystery Math Town. To find the fireflies, they navigate their way through different houses in the town, collecting numbers as they rescue the fireflies. They'll need the numbers because to move from room to room, through doors, out windows, or up and down stairs, they'll have to solve reverse math problems by providing the numbers to get to the given answer (like choosing between 1, 2, 5, 8, and 9 to choose numbers that add up to 10.) Finding the fireflies in one house unlocks the next house, where the maze-like rooms get trickier and the math problems do, too. In some houses, kids can also collect gold coins to be used to buy portraits for their gallery. Those portraits have lots to say, too, about each other, themselves, and the town. Kids create their own avatar -- though only one skin tone is available -- and multiple users can create profiles on the same device. They can customize their level of math challenge, too.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Mystery Math Town engages kids with a mysterious mood and snarky humor and gives them a mission -- to save the fireflies. Kids must solve problems in order to be able to move throughout the house. Since this is a mystery genre, solving problems fits into the story line and doesn't feel tacked on to get some math in. Kids use numbers they've gathered throughout the rooms of the house to complete the equation. As the game progresses, the problems get more challenging, and kids may find that they don't have the numbers they need to complete their equation. They'll just have to keep looking other places. Kids are working with logic and problem-solving as they navigate through the houses.

Kids will get a few laughs from the talking portraits and may enjoy interacting with some of the elements in the rooms, like a ringing telephone or ticking clock. 

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