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Maze-like puzzles promote critical thinking, boost core math skills

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Subjects & Skills

Critical Thinking, Math

Price: Free
Platforms: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Web

Pros: Kids take a unique path to math learning in a game that encourages critical thinking; accompanying instructional guide provides classroom-integration ideas.

Cons: Tracing paths through mazes gets a little monotonous. Some game variety would help keep kids engaged.

Bottom Line: Offers a simple, effective way for kids to use what they know about arithmetic while challenging them to think critically.

The instructional guide, which is located on the developer's website, is a good place to start. Type "Pick-a-Path" in the search field to find the guide. Choose a starting level for kids based on what they're learning in the classroom, and use the game to introduce a concept. If possible, have kids work independently, since the app doesn't accommodate multiple players. Once they complete a maze, come together as a class and discuss the results. Who earned the highest score? What strategies did they use? Continue this method until kids complete an entire level. As an extension activity, have kids draw their own mazes for their classmates to complete. 

Editor's Note: Pick-a-Path is no longer available.

Pick-a-Path is a great way for kids to use their math skills to solve problems. Kids tap the Play button to begin and must start at level 1. There are seven levels in all, and each level includes seven puzzles plus a randomly generated puzzle of the same skill type. The goal of each puzzle is for kids to trace a path for Okta, the octopus, so she can make her way through a maze. As Okta moves, mathematical operations shown on the maze segments are performed. Kids are challenged to choose the path that allows Okta to earn the given target -- maximum, minimum, or a specific value. If kids don't get close enough to the target, they're prompted to try again. Kids can earn up to three starfish rewards for completing each puzzle, depending on how close they were to the target. Starfish are currency and can be used in the shop to buy gifts for Okta to wear. 

The game isn't instructional in nature, but it pushes kids to apply basic math concepts in a meaningful way. Each level of the game focuses on a particular concept, and within each level, puzzles become increasingly difficult. Concepts include integers, factors, powers of 10, fractions, measurement, fractions and decimals, and exponents. Through exploration and trial and error, kids build confidence and fluency in core math skills. The instructional guide has some wonderful ideas for integrating the game in the classroom. 

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

The challenge of leading Okta through mazes is engaging. Each puzzle has a different set of numbers and operations, but the general task is always the same, which can be redundant. 


Kids use critical-thinking skills and apply what they know about mathematical operations. Puzzles get increasingly difficult, but no hints or feedback help struggling kids. 


A brief tutorial helps kids get started, and gameplay is simple. The developer's website has an excellent, downloadable instructional guide. 

Common Sense reviewer

Community Rating

math operations practice with a twist

I enjoy this app and love showing it to teachers. Students must do more than solve a math problem. Students have to think ahead and solve to find the best scenario or path. As you progress in the levels, you will find decimals, fractions, and measurement items within the path.

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