Common Sense Review
Updated August 2015

Math Snacks

Satisfying mathematical treats kids will gladly gobble up
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Learner's Guide for "Ratey the Math Cat" asks kids to interact with and extend concepts.
  • Animations, games, apps, and teaching resources are well laid out and text supported though with a few too many access points at times.
  • Video graphics and storylines are clever and humorous.
  • "Atlantean Dodgeball" uses sports statistics and 'dodgey' humor to convey basic proportional relationships with engaging detail.
  • "Gate" gameplay can be a bit confusing at first but once kids get it, they will get lots of practice with positive and negative large number place value.
Pros
Hip visuals, tongue-in-cheek fun, concrete real-world examples, and superb teaching resources make a nearly complete package.
Cons
Assessment or online tracking options for individual teachers and a wider range of content would make the site more versatile.
Bottom Line
Teachers and students will excel with engaging, often funny material; it's a pleasure to explore these extensive resources.
Leslie Crenna
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Action-packed graphics deliver witty story lines and upbeat music. How to play each game is usually pretty clear, and it's easy for kids to pick up on what to do next.

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

Concrete, real-world examples overlaid with verbal and visual calculations enliven ratio and proportion. Hopefully, other concepts will be this well-developed in the future.

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

Classroom extension resources are diverse and thorough but still need a bit of polish. Lesson plans and standards alignment are available for each "snack."

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

Math Snacks has so many quality implementation resources, you'll certainly not go wanting for ideas! Best practice planning tips on the site suggest integration as part of larger units, lesson development sequence including a first viewing for entertainment, a second to note vocabulary, and a third for integration ideas. Suggestions include asking students to brainstorm key math concepts and vocabulary for starters, and much more. Most impressive are the "teacher's videos," presented by a teacher who outlines tips for each product in clear, meaningful terms and who is shown in action implementing the material in the classroom. A newer feature includes integration with existing teacher dashboards or portals, such as Edmodo.com, allowing teachers to access Math Snacks within a framework for lesson planning, assessing, and reporting. Beyond the amazing resources, the content encourages a love of teaching through statements like, "Be open to the wonderful ways the students may approach each problem."

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What's It Like?

Math Snacks packs concrete and thorough treatments of the basics of ratio, proportion, scale, number line, coordinate graphing, large and negative number place value, and some measurement into six videos, five games, and three overlapping iOS apps. Two of the games, Pearl Diver and Ratio Rumble, are available for purchase as stand-alone iOS apps. A free app that includes all animations is also available. Kids watch videos reminiscent of "Schoolhouse Rock" (sans catchy tunes) or play single-player games. Activities can be done with or without teacher guidance; kids can follow up with learner's guides (workpages).

"Ratio Rumble" sucks kids into the mathematics of ratio by grouping as many like potion symbols as possible in adjacent sequence, all within a tongue-in-cheek, Pokemon-like battle world. The "Scale Ella" video embeds scale, proportion, and associated calculations into a superhero narrative with comic relief about the villain Scaleo, who changes scale for evil. Teachers enjoy free access to comic versions, teacher's guides, best practice teaching tips, Common Core and NCTM alignment, plus CCSS Mathematical recommended practices.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Math Snacks charges middle school mathematical concepts with energy, humor, and ease. You'll appreciate the clear presentation and accompanying resources that support in-class learning with best practices recommendations for each and every product. Math Snacks is especially appropriate for struggling, reluctant, or ELL learners. There are a few rough spots in the student workpages (Learner's Guides), the range of topics is on the narrow side, and some assessment tools would really complete the package. While a teacher dashboard and progress tracking are absent from the interface, researchers at the New Mexico State University are tracking performance and testing efficacy, perhaps with some of these considerations in mind.

Game levels are accessible and ramp up slowly yet steadily. Challenge is always present, but tasks are never overly difficult or impossible. Videos keep kids on their toes with sophisticated and baser wit all rolled into one. Math Snacks is a welcome addition to the accessible math pantheon.

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See how teachers are using Math Snacks

Lesson Plans