Road Test: Splash Math apps and website make maths fun for kids

How to make maths all fun and games

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 February, 2014, 9:39am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 February, 2014, 5:12pm

Children need to master mathematics to develop clear, logical thinking. But success in the subject takes training. That's why teachers encourage students to practise maths problems to ensure they understand the concepts.

As a tutor to grade school students, it's sometimes a challenge for me to find the appropriate material.

Mass-produced workbooks containing practice assessments that cover the full range of skill sets are helpful to gauge where a student might rank. But if students need help on one specific topic, I often struggle to find the material they need.

Splash Math is a cross-platform app that makes maths practice accessible to parents, and fun for children. It does not pretend to teach children how to do maths, and that's what sets it apart from other maths apps. It just provides the practice environment.

There are three different environments within Splash Math, on the app and on the online version. Users access the account either as student users or parents. Student users can choose the skill set they wish to practise within a gaming environment.

The game is presented as a multiple choice problem and the correct answers earn a coin which can then be exchanged for "stickers" to collect animals in a virtual aquarium or zoo. Game play is the same for all levels. This makes it easy to understand, but it could get tedious if you use it for a few years.

Adults will find the parent dashboard the most useful. Splash Math is able to provide reports that show critical performance measures, so there are no more guessing games as to what Junior is or is not able to do.

The adaptive algorithm calculates the number of skills practised and the student's overall performance, so parents can see where their child is strong, and zero in on areas that need improvement.

Splash Math also shows all the skills the student will need to master at that grade level.

The parent dashboard even makes it clear what students are expected to master to succeed at different grades.

Detailed topic sets make it easy for parents to use the content to address specific topics. Registration on the website is free, as is the download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

The app comes with a seven-day free trial. Single-grade packs are US$9.99 and full access to the multi-grade pack costs US$29.99. That will last Junior from grades one to five. The makers won "Best Elementary Student App" in 2011 and the Tabby Awards in 2012.

Verdict: More than 6,000 schools in the US use Splash Math in the classroom, and it adheres to the US Common Core State Standards Initiative, which means that the content covered in the app is aligned with success standards in school. It's not hard to see how Junior could benefit, too.

Splash Math - Grades one to five are free from the iTunes App Store, Google Play and online