Thursday, May 05, 2011

Math Blaster Review and Giveaway: An Engaging Way to Learn Math Facts!

It's May! It is so hard to believe that spring will soon melt into summer. Now is the time to be making firm plans for summer learning for your children while you are scrambling around to secure day care arrangements.  If I had to do last summer all over again, I would have done it differently. I would have incorporated some math reinforcement into our educational activities.

My 10 year old, who was among the first to pass all of her times tables, lost that knowledge over the summer. "What?" was my reaction when I realized that last September she couldn't tell me what 7x6 was when I knew she had it down cold the previous school year. I'd spent so much time focusing on summer reading that I'd let something as easy as math fact reinforcement fall by the way side.

A site like Mathblaster would fit the bill. This virtual world is geared toward kids 6-12, and my 6 year old loves it. One of the math games that he enjoys is Hyper Blast. In this game, he chooses which math sums he would like to do (for him, he chooses sums to 8) and then he blasts barriers until he gets to an octopus looking space alien.

Shown:  Multiplication.  Do you know which claw to click?
There, he has to click on the claw holding the correct answer for the addition sum presented. He goes through 10 sums and then he can move on to blast some more. The goal is to put the alien to sleep by clicking the correct answer (its eyeball even edges closer to closed with each correct answer) until defeated after 10 correct sums. Then, it's off to blast some more until you meet the next alien. He races through the sums because he wants to blast. This is good because he's learned these sums and doesn't have to stop to think or count on his fingers.

A nice motivator is that you earn points for completing games, which all add up to increase your rank. Who doesn't want a promotion? Rank does have privileges. He was excited to move from 2 to a 3 because that meant cooler things to ride in the racing game he likes to play.

Overall, I liked the program. We are fans of JumpStart products in our house and I feel 100% safe in logging him in to play while I do other things. I don't feel the need to babysit him, though I would recommend that parents be available to give guidance if their child chooses a game that is above their learning level. For instance, one game required matching fractions (1/2, 1/3, etc.) with pictures showing these fractions (triangles, circles, etc. divided and shaded appropriately). Once I explained that the picture showed 1 out of 5 shaded and that it matched with 1/5 because the top number is the amount shaded and the bottom number is the total the picture is divided into, he got it.

I really liked that Math Blaster grows with your child... they can easily move on to more complex tasks.  In addition, you can add multiple profiles to your account so that all of your kids can play under their own avatar.

One thing I did notice was that some of the games took a few moments to load, though not overlong. This could have been my connection or the site, I'm not sure.  In any event, there was a slight lag time for some games, but not more than perhaps 45 seconds to a minute. 

Win it!

One lucky Making Ends Meet reader will win a 3 month subscription to Math Blaster/

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This giveaway will run until 5/20/2011 at 11:59 PM Eastern.  Winner will be chosen on or about 5/21/2011 via  Entrants must live in the US and be 18 or older.  Winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond or I must choose a different winner.  

Disclosure:  I was provided a trial membership for the purposes of review and I will receive a subscription for posting this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are either my own or are derived from my family's experience with this product. 

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