Practicing math is fun with Marble Math
The game provides math problems that must be solved by navigating through a series of mazes using a marble, in order to collect the correct answers. There are two ways to control the game; your junior can either choose to drag it using their finger or roll it by tilting the iPad.
Your junior starts with three marbles, denoting his "lives" in the game. Collecting an incorrect answer will cost your junior a marble. If there are no more marbles left, the game ends. In contrast, successfully solving a problem will earn your junior points for unlocking new marbles.
The game also spices things up by placing various obstacles throughout the maze. Some obstacles, such as banana peels, have negative effects, while some, like magic wands, earn you extra points or give your marble special abilities. This requires your junior to be nimble and smart in picking their routes.
If your junior answered a problem incorrectly or is stuck, the app offers the option to show the solution to that problem. He can also retry or skip the problem.
There are three difficulty levels in Marble Math: Level 1 (easy), Level 2 (medium) and Level 3 (hard). Each level carries several problem sets to emphasize on different math concepts, such as multiplication, addition, subtraction, sequences and fractions. It is possible to customize the problem sets offered by each level to suit your junior's ability. So, for example, if your junior is struggling with fractions, you can set the level to only show problems for practicing fractions.
In order to customize a level, the app requires you to set up a player's profile. Each profile is represented by a name and an avatar, and multiple profiles can reside in the app. This is useful if you have more than one junior in your household, as they can always play the game on their own pace.
What parents need to know
Marble Math is a fun app for practicing basic math skills. The app is best when used as a companion rather than a primary app, as it doesn't explain math concepts and merely sharpens them.
Content-wise, the app is geared towards older juniors. The developers specifically mention that the app is designed for kids aged 9 to 12+, and judging from the problem sets, I agree with them. If you have younger juniors, I would suggest getting Marble Math Junior instead, which has the same gameplay but easier problem sets.
Based on the gameplay and reward system, I would say that this app would be great if used in a classroom setting or in a household with more than one juniors. It is possible to setup multiple profiles in one app, so multiple users can play on the same device. There is also a high score board that keeps tally of your junior's best scores in each level to provoke healthy competition amongst learners. Marble Math is also available as a Universal app, so it is possible to install it on an iPod Touch, which I believe is easier to carry around school for a 9 year old.
Last but not least, parents have to know that Marble Math does not have in-app purchases or ads. It does, however, collect play data anonymously for general information about how the app is used.
What I like about Marble Math
I am often envious of children these days because they have access to excellent learning materials and tools that I never had when I was at school. I wish I had Marble Math to help me practice -- it's definitely more fun than burying your head in practice books all day.
One of the things that I like about Marble Math is the large collection of (customizable) problem sets. This translates to virtually unlimited practice, which is always a good thing when you're learning math. The score board is a good idea; I think it brings out the competitive streak in children and motivates them to do their best.
The obstacles and bonuses are my favorite part of the game as well. The flashlight, which darkens the entire screen and limits your vision, is my number one nemesis. On the other hand, the ghost (which, surprisingly, is a bonus rather than an obstacle) is my best friend because he lets me go through walls. I think these are really unique obstacles and the developer did a great job designing them.
My suggestion to the developer is to implement a form of parental reports. I think older kids are somewhat more difficult to monitor because they have more activities going on, so it would be great if the app can help parents catch up with their junior's progress. It would also be beneficial if the app can automatically adjust the game level based on the junior's play data.
Marble Math is a great educational app that makes solving various math problems fun and not boring. Between trying to work out the correct answer to a problem and avoiding sticky obstacles, your junior won't realize that they're actually sharpening their math skills. If you want an app that can accompany your child while they're learning math, then Marble Math is the one for you.