Motion Math: WingsFall 2012 Mobile Apps
Most math apps I see are simply flash card apps, quizzing kids to help them understand what they don't already know, then drilling learners until they have memorized the content. Motion Math Wings is a beautiful app that shows what other math apps should be: a great way to introduce your learner to different ways of thinking about and looking at numbers, until your child inherently understand how multiplication works.
In this game, you tip the iPhone or iPad to gently guide a flying bird towards the number that is the greatest. In the beginning, your bird must choose between 5 blocks or 25 blocks. As it gets more difficult, the player must visually determine which is largest from different sets, comparing for example sets (two sets of four is 2x8). In doing this, your child learns how to think of numbers in sets, and "see" numbers, rather than just the numeral representing the number. Eventually, your player will be asked to choose which is larger... 11x21 or a graph showing a stack of blocks 10 blocks wide by 9 blocks high (for example). With flash card games, your child just learns to memorize a number (which represents a group of items). This can be problematic once your child moves away from whole numbers, like 4 or 6, and moves into fractions or decimals. Gaining a sense of how numbers work is crucial for your child to advance into later math.
My sons (4 and 8) could both play this game and enjoyed it. It has a lovely feel to it, with soothing music and gameplay which is immediately accessible to learners (even non-readers). My 8-year-old son returned to it a couple of times on his own, and happily chose it when I asked him to play 10 minutes of a math game. As an educator, I like giving him a game that helps him understand how numbers work, because that is the type of knowledge that will serve him well as he moves beyond memorizing times tables.
I am fairly critical of the "Freemium" model, in which the download is free, but you have to purchase additional levels. This is a great way to give you a chance to play the game for free before you commit to a purchase, but can be a hassle in that just as a player gets into the game, he or she is confronted with an update screen and cost. In the case of Motion Math, you can play a bit for free, and are then encouraged to select the appropriate "Island" You can select Pre-multiplication, Basic Multiplication or Advanced Multiplication (each $3.99) or select all levels for $6.99. Do yourself and your kids a favor... go ahead and download the free version and immediately purchase the applicable levels. You and your kids will be happy, and your money is well spent on this fun and solid game.