Kids Corner Review: Math Magic


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Jul 5, 2008
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When I bought the Word Magic program to review, I also purchased the Math Magic Program. They are both by the same developer, so I thought I would look at them together.

Math Magic is aimed at teaching young children the basics of math - addition, subtraction, and multiplication. The child is given a math problem, and can choose from one of four answers. Just like the Word Magic program, is the child chooses the correct answers, they get verbal encouragement ("Good job", "You are awesome"). If they get five correct answers in a row, they get a star.

Just like the Word Magic program, I had the same problems with the reward system here. The verbal encouragement is difficulty to understand, and the stars don't really serve any purpose. Aside from seeing the stars build up at the top of the screen, they don't do anything.

I was disappointed by the math problems that were given in the program. While the Word Magic program seems to try to focus on helping little kids, the same level of attention didn't seem to be there with the math problems. The math problem was simply written in numerical form. While the concept of "5-2" is easy for an adult to understand, thinking of it in numerical form for a child is more difficult. I would have liked to see (or at least seen the option to have) some sort of counting method - beans, marbles, seeds, pebbles, toes, fingers - anything along those lines to help a child understand the concept up addition and subtraction. Even something that appeared but then vanished so the child couldn't simply count the number would be beneficial. It seems to me that with these math problems, simple animations would be very helpful for a child. Heck, even something where a child can add or remove beads from a pile based on the math problem would be good.

The inclusion of multiplication was rather odd. The idea of multiplication is a off shoot of addition, but it is a rather large conceptual leap. It was nice to see it included as an option, but I am not sure how many early math learners will make use of that feature.

One thing I found odd in many cases was the choice of answers. In many cases, the correct answer was seemingly the only one that was even in the realm of possibility. For example, with the math problem "4 + 2" the possible answers were 6, 16, 12, and 20. Given that all the problems were based on single digit numbers, I am not sure why large, double digit numbers are even included in the answers. Most of the question are along the order of "3 + 2", "4 + 1", so why even include 20 as a possible answer? Subtraction was the same with. In some cases, each of the incorrect answers was larger than either of the numbers used in the subtration problem!

You have the option of include negative numbers, although this did not include subracting a negative number (which is good - that is too complex for a young child at this age). You can also adjust the color scheme, highest number included (up to 20), sounds effects, and how to go to the next game. It was nice to see the option of varying the difficulty of numbers (choosing a maximum of either 5, 10, or 20) - this is great once kids start to grasp the concept of adding and subtracting.

Pros: Smooth interface, varying difficulty levels

Cons: Using number only may be too conceptual for you mathematicians, reward system not that useful

All in all, this is a good program if your child has a good conceptual grasp of numbers. If they still need fingers to add or subtract, this program won't benefit them at all. Since it seems to me that the target age rage is the latter rather than the former, I am not sure how well this program is designed for its audience. At $.99, if you want to give it a try, go for it. Two and a half stars out of five, mostly because it lacks a visual companion to the numerical math problems.