Friday, February 25, 2011

Riding Into Math Mastery - A New TOS Review!

Does your child struggle with knowing their math facts?  I know that my eldest does, sometimes.  Sometimes, I think I do too.  Well, MathRider might be just the program you are looking for to help strengthen those math facts by using a fun game which only depends on the players knowledge of math. 

The Product:
MathRider was created in an effort to strengthen one's math skills for all four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) without the need to know how to properly control the mouse or use the arrow keys on the keyboard.  It only depends on your ability to see and read the math problem given and then typing the answer on the keypad. 

When you download and install the program onto your computer there are just a few simple steps of entering your key code and then creating your "rider"  before you can start.  Once you start you begin your journey in a fantasy-themed world that reminds me of fairy tales.  In the story, the player is a rider on a horse and each math problem is a pole to be jumped.  After you answer the problem your horse, Shadow, automatically jumps the pole.

Each ride has 30 poles (or 30 math problems) and the game keeps track of how many poles are remaining, how many have been cleared or not, and the time it took the rider to complete the ride.  You get points for your ride and then bonus points can be collected along the ride as well as for a fast time.  At the end of the ride you get a visual, yet simple, bar graph that depicts your child's progress for that particular ride.

Once back on the 'home' screen you can go to the 'statistics' page which will show you exactly where your child needs more help and where you child has complete mastery of the problems. You can see that better below in some screen shots.  Also on the 'home' screen is a map that shows how far your rider has gone into the mythical Mathlands.

Each quest (which is made up of 6 rides) brings you to a new section of the fantasy world.  As you play the program adapts to your child both with difficulty and speed by using artificial intelligence which pinpoints where the player needs more work.  You also get unique rewards that build up according to the mastery of each operation.

Your ultimate quest is to rescue a kidnapped princess.  But along the way you need to find a magical flower (called Pythagoras) to heal your sick mother, speak with a wizard, encounter a magical elven gem just to name a few.  The backgrounds also seem to have trees with faces, angels or other funny images in them.  The landscapes are quite unique and help to bring the 'quests' alive propelling the student into the game world.

You can also set up practice runs in order to help drill your student on just one number.  They also have a great explanation on the best way to master your math facts

Our Experience:
Arianna was very excited when I told her we were going to be able to review a math game that included a princess.  She had asked me for the week prior to getting the review when her new game would come.

Once we had it installed and set up I let her get started.  After the first ride or two, I helped her transition from using the numbers on top of the letters to the keypad.  It took a little while for her to get used to using, but she was able to answer the equations quicker.  That first day, she stayed on MathRider until the first map was complete.  She did not want to stop (not even to eat.) The game was fun and it interested her; completing math problems was not even an issue.

I saw in the first few weeks a great improvement in her knowledge base of her math facts.  She was not counting on her fingers as much, while doing her math problems.  That was great!

One downfall that we encountered was when you miss too many or miss 4 problems in a row, the game stops and asks you to ask someone to help you with the game.  Arianna was very frustrated with this.  I do not think that her frustration has anything to do with the game.  I do think it has to do with her want to be perfect and to finish the quest to reach the princess.   And because she was either too slow or just didn't know the answer she missed the problems and the computer stopped her.  We are working on correct responses since the first few times ended up in tears of frustration and the game going to time out. :)

My Thoughts:
One great thing I was appreciative of is that MathRider is compatible for Windows, Mac, and LINUX operating systems!  And if you have read any of my prior reviews posts you may know that some products are not LINUX friendly.  (For those of you who do not know, I run on a LINUX platform so this is a definite plus in my book.)  You can read more about the system requirements here.

Using the number pad on your keyboard is definitely easier then the numbers across the top of the keyboard.  It allows the child to work a bit faster once they get used to using the keypad.

When I played I found the neighing of the horse after every answer of the problem a tad annoying.  It didn't seem to bother Arianna.  I also think that the story line as well as the influence of the magical/mythical might be a little too much for younger students, say under 8. 

Right now you can purchase the program for $37 instead of it's regular price of $49.95.  At either price, I think MathRider is a great investment for all ages; anyone who may need help with retention of their math facts.  It's also great for larger families since you can have up to 10 different players for each program.  If this seems like a program you would be interested in, you should go sign up for their 7 day FREE trial

You can also go and check out what other Crew members thought about MathRider.

*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***

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