Common Sense Review
Updated May 2013

Math Playground

Quality math games hiding among a jumbled layout with flashing ads
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Common Sense Rating 3
Pros
Many games approach math concepts in clever ways, and there are some decent teacher resources.
Cons
The site is disorganized and overwhelming, with some outdated links and lots of ads.
Bottom Line
If you can cut through the mess, you’ll find some great content.
Mieke VanderBorght
Common Sense Reviewer
Researcher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Clever games help teach math concepts, and there are so many games here that kids aren't likely to get bored. Organization is a bit confusing and there are lots of distracting ads, some of which may not be appropriate for kids.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Many games are embedded with solid learning content, though some are better than others. Each game has its own score tracker, but there's no way to track overall progress.

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

Because organization is confusing, help can be hard to find. A useful worksheet generator makes printable math worksheets. Games target kids with varying skill levels.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Most of the games here would work best with individual exploration in the classroom. Teachers might also use the worksheet generator to print practice sheets or assign online drills. On a more interesting note, the site has an entire section of multi-player games (they can be played on multiple computers). Teachers can create private competition sessions where students can compete with one another.

Remember that it may take you some time to search through the site. Using the games in class will take diligence and supervision to make sure that kids don’t get caught clicking in the wrong place or playing irrelevant games.

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What's It Like?

Math Playground is an extensive collection of math games that address a wide variety of math topics such as arithmetic, geometry, percentages, word problems, algebra, graphing, and even logic. Beyond the games and some opportunities for drill-like practice, the site also has worksheets, both online and printable. Another unique section of the site highlights math as a prerequisite for a variety of careers (e.g., graphic designer). A Common Core section for teachers lists the many games that align to a wide variety of standards. However, content is disorganized and seems haphazardly divided. Be aware of the ads; it can be hard to tell them apart from the site's content, and they may not be age-appropriate.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Many of the games on Math Playground are not only fun (and sometimes downright addictive), they also have learning content built right in. For example, there are Math-focused versions of Pac-Man and Tetris that help kids explore addition and numbers. Other games require brain-bending logic, like the gravity-based "Sugar, sugar." Worksheets, drills, and instructional videos explain a variety of math concepts to help round out the site’s clearly educational approach. Most of the content is solid, although some games are better than others. Since there are a lot of activities, finding the best ones can take a bit of poking around.

Unfortunately, the level of instruction varies from game to game, and feedback is limited to trial and error. Kids can see their progress in individual games, but there isn't a system for tracking progress at the site level. Overall, Math Playground could use some better organization; the mass of content might overwhelm some kids.

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See how teachers are using Math Playground

Lesson Plans