Although in principle I am not in favour of a "skill, drill and kill" approach to math, I have been doing some reading lately on memory and learning, and I am reminded that repetition is one path to consolidation of skills. In this sense these apps and the activities they offer have their place in a more balanced math program.
What I really like about the apps is
Granted, the problem itself does not involve a lot of critical thinking, but the photo that accompanies the problem shows a delightful sea lion with his head thrown back, salty ocean spray dripping off his whiskers onto his gleaming, wet coat. And the word “marine biologist” is not one most of my grade 3s are likely to have encountered before.
What an opportunity for oral language!
And mathematically, the words “more” and “sum” are repeatedly introduced as students work their way through the problems.
Answers can be selected from a multiple choice drop-down menu, which provides an opportunity for students to practise the concept of multiple choice questions, which they will be exposed to during provincial testing, but which I do very little of in my constructivist, problem-based program in general.
As a non-math-related bonus, each question includes a mini TV screen icon, which students can press to view a short video about the topic (plants, farming, whales, butterflies, etc.) So if they’re going to get distracted while working on the math, they might as well distract themselves with something educational which will introduce them to concepts we’re studying in Social Studies or Science, right?!
Other apps in the series include iLiveMath Farm Fresh, iLiveMath Entomology, and more, all of which are rich in vibrant, full colour photos that will reinforce my highly-ESL students’ introduction to new vocabulary (monarch, dragonfly, green leeks, artichokes).