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Pros: Games are mostly engaging and go beyond the basics of 1, 2, 3.
Cons: There's little instructional support.
Bottom Line: Teachers may want to be close by to help explain some of the more complex concepts.
Funexpected Math! is designed for kids to play individually. As kids pass early levels, games build in complexity and difficulty, so kids should play under their own unique profile. It's unclear how many profiles teachers can create under a single device and subscription, however, so it may be best as a supportive tool for kids who need it. Math concepts are naturally integrated into each game without any explicit instruction. Teachers may want to have kids play a particular game and then introduce the underlying concept, including appropriate vocabulary. Teachers can also review what level kids reach and adjust teaching plans to match the concepts that kids are slower to understand. Ultimately, it's probably best for stations or assigned math group work.
Funexpected Math! introduces a variety of foundational math skills and theory through activities lightly themed around different countries. Leveled games focus on counting, patterns, algorithms, geometry, logic, number sense, and more. All the concepts are introduced in a game setting without explicit instruction. To play, kids tap on one of the available points on a map, including Greenland, Egypt, Japan, Madagascar, and the moon, at the time of review. Each location has a different graphic theme and offers a set of unique math activities such as matching shapes, continuing patterns, or counting on a number line.
After a brief how-to tutorial, kids start at level one of each game and work their way through progressively more challenging levels. If teachers sign up for an account with an email address, they can create multiple user profiles. In the settings menu, teachers can also read about the math concept behind each game and preview what play looks like at each level within the game. Progress reports give some basic information about which games and levels kids have completed. Though most of the app relies on graphics, teachers can also set the app to use any of the 14 available languages. Funexpected Math! is subscription-based and has a 24-hour free trial that starts automatically when you first open the app. At the time of this review, there was no classroom pricing.
Funexpected Math! is unique and varied enough to help it rise above the overcrowded field of apps that claim to teach foundational math skills. These games go beyond simple repetition and tedious choose-and-tap formulas. They also focus on more than just the most rudimentary aspects of math, like simple counting or basic shapes. Though some games are repetitive, they also get creative with how the material is presented and how kids interact with it. The games also introduce some not-so-common concepts, like quadrilaterals in the shapes game or algorithmic paths.
That said, not all of the activities shine to the same degree (the Egyptian patterns aren't the most complex), but in general, there's a good amount here to engage kids' minds. There's no explicit instruction, though, which works fine except for when kids aren't getting it. Teachers will likely need to keep close tabs on how kids are doing. Kids can play under their own unique profile, though it's unclear what affect choosing their age at the beginning has on the game experience. Though the graphics are beautiful, it's also unclear what the relevance of the different countries is, and it feels a bit sparse to see just a few locations available on a map of the whole world. But overall these issues don't interfere too much with how the app functions or its potential as a learning tool. Perhaps the biggest downside is the subscription model, which can make Funexpected Math! a bit pricey over the long term, particularly for classroom use.