Mathletics ~ Math Olympics for Your Brain

by Dawn Oaks on August 6, 2014

Aside from the flexibility and more relaxed schedule it affords, a main argument for schooling year round is keeping up math skills. Will our students’ brains go to mush over the summer months? A possible solution to this would be finding a fun math supplement that the kids could use during the summer to keep up their skills. Our youngest has used the Mathletics program from 3P Learning this summer for this purpose. Please continue reading to see what we found as we reviewed it and tested it out.  We will try to take you on a tour of what our soon to be 5th grader saw as he worked through different areas of the program.  If you would like to try it out yourself, you can click here for your own trial subscription.  The program has levels appropriate for those in grades K-12.

Mathletics Student Home

Like most kids, our son loved being able to start customizing the screens and his icon as soon as he entered. I tried to be patient with this as it is much like letting them organize their desks and go through their new books and supplies on the first day of school. Swords and knights are the rage among our young men!

From this main student page, our son can see how he is doing on the activities in the different sections of his grade level (the middle section above), check out his personal stats and points earned in the left sidebar, and pick lots of other game areas to explore in the right sidebar.

It is important to remember as I share with you more about Mathletics that it is designed to be a supplemental math program for students of all ages and not a complete math curriculum. So there are lots of fun, games, and practice types of activities. There is not as much teaching of concepts.

Now back to our experience.  We honestly did not explore every area of the program, because when my son found something he liked he really didn’t want to leave it to go do something else. His favorite aspect of the program was the Mathletics Live. This is an area where your student gets to compete against other students logged into the system from all over the world. It was exciting to see where other students were logging in from and this section certainly tapped into a boy’s naturally competitive spirit.

Watching as the map picks out your competitor's around the world.

Watching as the map picks out your competitor’s around the world.

The actual challenge screen when working in the Mathletics Live area.

The actual challenge screen when working in the Mathletics Live area.

This was definitely a much more fun way for our son to practice his math facts compared to timed fact sheets or flash cards.

Our son’s second favorite area was the Rainforest.  In this area, the child has all kinds of different math strategies and skills to explore and develop. It does provide some review of concepts, but is just an area of fun learning. I think that the colorful screens added real appeal to the younger learner. In this area, he could explore all of the same topics he would normally cover in his math book, but it didn’t feel like a math lesson.

I am enlarging this graphic so you can really see how much is offered in this area.

I am enlarging this graphic so you can really see how much is offered in this area.

The area that I as the mom gravitated to was that big activity section in the middle of the student homepage. It was the area that was the most similar to a traditional math curriculum and focused on the mastery of math topics through repetitive questions and problems. It would allow the student to see if they were working at a good accuracy level. This section is not timed and is really meant to be an area where the student can take their time in working the problems.

Mathletics Activity

My greatest frustration with the ins and outs of the program was that I kept wanting it to be a full math curriculum. I wanted it to do more teaching, but had to keep reminding myself that it is designed to supplement the math curriculum that the child is using in their schoolwork. The student can click on the question mark in the left sidebar for the computer to present a short review on the concept. It is like a mini tutorial.

The final area that our son really enjoyed that I was surprised about was the problem solving area. There are several games in this section that combine math skill with critical thinking skills. Normally he dreads problem solving in his normal math curriculum, so it was surprising to see how he took to this area when given a choice of where to spend his time. Each game has an instruction screen providing detail on how to play the game and what the student is to accomplish.

Mathletics Problem Solving Instructions

They then enter the game area where they actually work the problem given.  In this example, our son had to move the balls in the different areas to figure out ways of getting two balls side by side that would add to 20.  He then clicked on the pair.  Each time he got a correct match, the fireman would make another move in rescuing the cats from the top of the burning building.  In true boy fashion, the greatest excitement was watching the building burn to the ground after all the cats were rescued.

Mathletic Problem Solving Act

As I shared earlier, we did not even get to all the areas in this program.  That is why I really encourage you to register for your own free trial by going to this link.  If you are convinced that this is the tool for your child to practice their math skills while having fun, it is available for purchase at a cost of $59 for a year long subscription per student.  There are family discounts available if you register multiple students all at the same time.

Thoughts from a Mom’s Perspective

When I could get my mind around this truly being a supplement, I was able to see just how much my son enjoyed it and his willingness to use it. I think it is a great tool in keeping math skills fresh during school breaks as well as providing a constructive “day off” from your normal math curriculum.

An area that was challenging for our family is that the software is built around Common Core Standards. What this meant for us, even in using it as a supplement, is that the teaching is approached in a totally different way than our normal curriculum. It also covers different things in each grade level than the scope and sequence of our full program.

In the activities area there are some assessments and each activity also have a bar to show the students progress and accuracy. The one diagnstic feature that is missing is a good placement tool. Every math curriculum is a bit different, which makes it difficult to know where to initially jump into this program.  This is something that I would recommend the publisher consider for future releases.

For the family on the go, 3P Learning has begun work on making Mathletics available on mobile devices. We were able to load a Mathletics app on our iPad mini. Many of the features for the 5th grade level were accessible and I am sure that in future days it will completely resemble the on-line version that you would access from your computer. This is a great plus for a family that has downtime while waiting on siblings at ball practices, doctor’s appointments, etc.

As always I invite you to see what other reviewers have had to say about their experiences with Mathletics from 3P Learning.  In the links, be sure to check out reviews based on the grade level of your children as our family only evaluated the 5th grade activities for our review.

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