Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2015
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The Unknown Number: Puzzle Math Arcade Game

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Puzzling game needs more focus on learning

Subjects & skills
  • Math

  • 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.
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Pros: The puzzles will challenge kids and encourage them to problem-solve using math skills.

Cons: Without hints, struggling kids could easily give up.

Bottom Line: This unique math puzzler has potential but lacks instructional support.

The game is best suited as an enrichment or reward activity in the classroom. When kids finish an assignment early, allow them to play individually. For a bit of friendly competition, create a class leaderboard and update it regularly with students who have completed the highest level and/or earned the most stars. 

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In The Unknown Number: Puzzle Math Arcade Game, the puzzles are organized into two main themes: Forest and Mountain. Within each theme, there are 40 levels, each of which needs to be cleared to unlock the next one. Kids can earn up to three stars per level depending on how many numbered blocks they eliminate. Creating the equations is easy: Just tap or swipe the numbered blocks in order. The last block is always the answer. A stats screen allows kids to view progress including number of stars earned, puzzles completed, successful equations, and longest equation.

The Unknown Number: Puzzle Math Arcade Game challenges kids to build math equations using numbered blocks. Kids build equations using given numbers while strategizing to eliminate as many of the numbered blocks per round as possible. The game begins with simple addition and increases in difficulty as kids progress. For example, in early rounds, kids use three numbered blocks to create addition equations, such as 2 + 1 = 3. In later rounds, they use several numbered blocks to create equivalent equations with more than one operation, such as 11 + 4 = 3 x 5. The arrangement of the blocks gets more complicated as well.

The game offers little in the way of instruction or hints. As it gets increasingly difficult, kids could become distracted and use random equations just to earn stars, rather than use math skills to complete the puzzles. Kids with a solid grasp of arithmetic will likely get the most out of this game. They'll be able to focus on strategy while practicing math skills that they're already comfortable with.

Overall Rating

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

Solving the puzzles is a fun and unique way to apply math skills, but without any hints, kids may lose interest if they struggle.

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

Levels increase in difficulty, but learning may take a backseat to simply eliminating blocks to clear levels.

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

Some basic instructions appear sporadically, but they aren't all that helpful.

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