Review by Carrie Garges, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2019


Building blocks form solid math concepts one brick at a time

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: Images and numeric representation work together for better understanding.

Cons: There's a help button, but the help offered might not do the trick.

Bottom Line: Strong tool for independent use without forfeiting conceptual understanding.

The goals for each MathBRIX activity are easy to understand. Teachers can feel confident letting students work on MathBRIX independently during centers or even as a homework assignment. A help button is present during tasks. It may point out what went wrong or replay the tutorial, so students should be encouraged to ask for help if they cannot see the solution on their own. Because there are many ways to go about solving most of the problems, teachers would be wise to use the program to model problem-solving in front of the class. Using think-through modeling, kids can hear how others might solve the problem and learn the benefit of trial and error.

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MathBRIX is a set of game-based activities that encourages young kids to think concretely about operations. Teachers can easily set kids up with their own usernames and passwords -- added one at a time or uploaded from a spreadsheet -- and then let the program take over. Each game begins with a short tutorial that speaks as it demonstrates the task. The tutorial can be displayed again at any time. 

Each activity uses building bricks to demonstrate all sorts of skills. To teach patterns, kids build towers of bricks in groups of ones, tens, or hundreds. In another game kids are asked to finish a number sentence. No guessing here! Students must first prove their solution with the correct number of blocks, then using the numbers correctly in the equation. Each game is won by completing three tasks correctly, so students who are ready can move on without getting bored. Coins and stars are earned for each level completed, and reward games are accessed using the coins. Teachers shouldn't worry about students spending too much time just playing reward games, like Brix Ninja, as playtime is limited.

MathBRIX recognizes the power of connecting images to numerals and consistently displays both representations of the value. A voice reads each solution as well. MathBRIX begins with one idea and builds upon that while introducing other skills. This is a solid formula for growing strong math concepts. Each level adds just a bit more complexity and increases the challenge while still building from the previously mastered material. In one game, an interactive balance is used to demonstrate equivalency, therefore starting kids on the path toward equations. Several activities contain this hidden higher-level math. For example, when kids drag a value from one side of the equation to another, the sign changes as well, not to mention modeling the commutative property correctly for both addition and subtraction problems.

Overall Rating

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

MathBRIX offers sharp graphics and easy-to-use touchscreen tools. Fun activities appropriately challenge kids: Who doesn't like playing with blocks?

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

Each game uses the previously taught material to introduce new concepts and supports all ideas with concrete representation. Although skills are geared toward K-2 kids, higher-level concepts are peppered throughout activities.

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

Help for kids during activities is a bit limited, lacking hints to coach them through particularly hard tasks. Links to additional videos in the database appear similar to what can be found through a Google search.

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Carrie Garges Classroom teacher

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