I love math. It is not a secret anymore, especially if you are a long-time reader of our blog. When the developers from Shiny Things contacted me about their math app, I was very excited to try it out. The app turned out to be amazing, so I am sharing it with you today.
Sakura Quick Math
Sakura Quick Math is a math app that allows juniors to practice basic arithmetic calculations, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Designed for juniors aged 6-11, it is the perfect testbed for their mental calculation skills. In addition to simple problems, the app also includes more difficult ones where your juniors need to calculate unknown values by performing inverse operations.
The app has five different game modes; one mode for each arithmetic operation and an additional mode that mixes problems from all operation types. Within each game mode, you can choose from three difficulty levels, i.e. beginner, intermediate and advanced. Here are some examples of the questions for each difficulty level:
2 x 1 = ?
8 - 4 = ?
? x 3 = 27
4 + ? = 7
? : 7 = 12
? x 8 = 32
To answer these questions, you need to write on the iPad directly using your finger or a stylus instead of typing on a numeric keypad or a full keyboard. This is the key feature of Sakura Quick Math that sets it apart; other math apps would usually opt for multiple-choice questions.
In Sakura Quick Math, each level has 20 arithmetic problems that you need to solve as quickly as possible. If you answered incorrectly, you do not get a penalty; instead, you just lose the time you spent writing the answer in addition a short delay that the app requires to recognize your handwriting. The same thing happens when the app is unable to recognize your handwriting, i.e. you lose time. This usually happens when you are not writing in alignment with the device's portrait orientation or when your handwriting is too small for the app to recognize.
As you work on the exercises, a timer records the duration it takes for you to correctly solve all 20 problems. If a question is too difficult for you to solve, you can skip it. However, do take note that a 10-second time penalty will be applied for each question that you skipped.
At the end of each exercise, the app will also display a bar chart that shows your several past attempts. Ideally, it would motivate you to play again and beat your own best time.
What parents need to know
Sakura Quick Math is a great and challenging app for practicing basic math problems. The app offers a way for you to setup multiple user profiles, allowing you to track the performance of more than one junior.
As previously mentioned, the app recognizes handwritten input and does not utilize a keypad or a keyboard. There is sufficient delay time to allow you to input multiple digit answers, such as 132, as the problem requires.
It is also interesting to note that the app has no undo/clear/reset button. If you made a mistake, you would need to wait until the app clears your answer before you could supply a new one. Optionally, you can also swipe down with two fingers to clear your answer manually.
Inspired by a similar game on Nintendo DS entitled Brain Age that encourages you to practice your math skills using the game on a daily basis, I would suggest your juniors to do the same. This would allow your juniors to get correct answers more frequently and finish the problems in a much quicker fashion as well.
What I like about the app
I really like the design of this app. I like the beautiful and clutter-free interface design which allows you to focus on the math problem at hand. I also like how the entire screen functions as your writing pad.
Using handwriting as the input method, the app is very intuitive and imposes an easier learning curve for younger juniors. For example, my 3-year-old Philip is able to write the answers with his fingers perfectly as I dictate him what to write.
The handwriting approach also eliminates the need to tap on the return key or tap on any submit button. This makes the gameplay flows smoothly. The app cleverly determines the correct amount of time to wait while we write our answers and detect them quickly enough to produce a continuous flow of problems. For example, Camila could finish the basic addition challenge in 12 seconds despite the fact that it has 20 problems in it. Even though the app still has problems with properly recognizing certain handwriting styles, it is indeed fast and responsive.
The no-penalty approach helps juniors focus on getting the correct answers and increases their determination in solving the problems. Older juniors might be aware that they are being timed but it would not prevent them from trying to correctly solve each problem before moving on to the next one. I prefer this approach as it teaches them to be disciplined and to finish the things that they start.
Sakura Quick Math is an awesome math app for your juniors to practice their mental muscles in performing basic arithmetic calculations. With customizable difficulty levels and support for multiple user profiles, the app is perfect for families with more than one junior playing at the same time. Even the parents can benefit from practicing their arithmetic skills.
Note: Thank you to Mathew Peterson at Shiny Things for providing us with the promo code of Sakura Quick Math so that Camila, Philip and I could try it out. It really is a fun math game.