For all you teachers (and parents) with Ipads, I recently discovered a great app for reinforcing math facts. I am a big fan of making learning fun and Mathtopia does just that. The game incorporates aspects of the popular arcade game Bejeweled which not only makes it highly addictive (or as 9 year old Claire says, "addictingly fun"), but also adds a challenging element of logical thinking into the game.
How it works
Students answer math facts by touching tiles on the screen. One nice feature is that the user can select either the answer or the expression first. So, an effective strategy is to select an answer on the right and then find all of the correct expressions. When a problem is solved the tile turns solid and can be moved. When three tiles of the same color are placed in a row, they all disappear - which is where the logic part comes in. When a student chooses the wrong tile, it gets "locked," which means it cannot be moved. Fortunately, there are a couple of tiles that show up every so often to help - a hammer which can be used to smash the locked tile and a shuffle tile which can be used (you guessed it) to shuffle the tiles.
Why I like it
Of course, the game aspect is great (love the bright colors and fun sounds), but the folks at Top Shelf Learning really did their homework in brain research and motivation. For example, in many games, users get rewarded by randomly guessing. The locking tile feature takes care of that. Accuracy counts big time in this game. I also like that students see all of the possible expressions for an answer and that they are repeated for building fluency. The game is also timed, so the user will get more stars at the end of a level for solving the problems quickly. I also really like the spatial piece (lining up the tiles). Sometimes students with great spatial skills struggle in other areas of math. The spatial component will motivate them to learn those facts.
How to get it
Mathtopia covers all of the basic facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It comes in two flavors. You can download Mathtopia from the App Store and try it for free and then purchase additional levels within the App. If you know you are going to get all four levels, the better option is Mathtopia+, which costs $3.99 for all four games and works with Apple's special pricing for teachers.