Friday, December 18, 2009

TOS Review: Mathletics

Sometimes, you just can't predict whether something will be a hit or not. I admit it: I set up my free trial subscription to Mathletics, tooled around the site a bit and thought, "It's pretty good. But once the 'new' wears off, the kids will happy to move on."

I was so wrong.

I have no idea exactly what my children find so appealing about Mathletics, but they literally beg me to play it It's been such a smashing success that Mr. Blandings and I are trying to figure out how to swing an annual subscription of $59 for each of the three older kids. (With a special code, you get a $9.05 discount. The question that pops up is "What is The Human Calculator's favorite number?" The answer is 9.) If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that for us to even consider forking over that kind of cash, it's got to be something very, very good.

And yes, Mathletics is very, very good. In essence, it's a glorified drill program. It's extensive--exhaustive, even-- in scope and content, hitting the wheedling basics even with older kids, and pushing them in areas of newly acquired skills. The incentive for chugging through the vast library of mathematical thought comes in the form of "shopping" for new backgrounds, clothes, and accessories for your on-screen persona. My children (yes, even Jo) loved this. They happily sat and pounded through 45 minutes of practice that they wouldn't have tolerated for even half that length of time, all in the name of scoring enough points to add a new twist to their avatar's outlook. Did I mention that my children actually request time on Mathletics? That they have bemoaned the fact that we have only one computer with internet access? That they hooted and did happy dances when their father made inquiries about purchasing extended subscriptions?

Far and away, the coolest (imo) aspect of Mathletics is the "Play Live!" feature. Clicking on this section opens a window with a full world map. Your player's avatar pops up in a sidebar, along with their home country. And this is where the fun begins. In just a few seconds, you can see that the Mathletics program is actually scouring the globe, identifying players with similar skill levels from around the world. As the on-line competitors are lined up, their avatar and home country are posted in the sidebar, too. With three or four players ready, the real fun begins: a race against the clock--and each other-- for first place.

My children adore this element. It's an on-line, real-life math drill that pits them against players from anywhere and everywhere. Talk about motivation! Mastering your multiplication tables so that you can beat the socks off of the guy from West Ham is way more fun, says Logan, than doing it just so your mom will tell you you did a great job. Who knew?

I give Mathletics a huge thumbs up, if for no other reason than it truly excites my kids about math. On average, since having access to this site, each of my children has spent an extra half hour per day simply drilling age-level math problems. Without complaint. Without resignation. With joy. That's worth $50 a year in my book.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this review. I've been umming and aahing about whether to get Mathletics for the better part of a week and you've just pushed me over the line.