Sunday, July 20, 2014

Newly updated!! ToDo Math is all-new and still fabulous


Bottom line: A fabulous math app for your special needs or young elementary-aged child. Since we first reviewed ToDo K-2 Math Practice, it has evolved to an app with a new name and even more math. The new ToDo Math is built on the same basic premise with math activities that can be completed in two different ways. Replacing the original timed math practice, there are now Missions for users to complete. Or, children can engage in free choice which allows them to select math activities as they wish.

 If you'd like to download ToDo Math (FREE with in-app purchases, iPad only), please use this handy dandy link so they'll know who sent you:

App store button
1006071_10201441071805159_1533556631_s App-Warning-Buttons-IN-APP-(100x100)999760_10201441071685156_5416446_s
All upgrades are $19.99; mission-only access 11.99 (31 missions); free choice access $9.99 (18 mini games all levels)
Can register data with email address (and add more accounts as well)
This newly updated version of this app from Locomotive Labs contains at least 18 activities, with more slated to come soon, that focus on numbers and counting, visual representations, telling time, patterns and math facts practice. Each activity is preceded by a quick tutorial video complete with a voiceover explanation. Once in the activity, children can either drag and drop the correct number card or they can print the answer. I love the choice as it allows for children of all fine motor levels to participate in these activities.

As with the original app, children’s number sense is strengthened with these activities that encourage play and work with numbers. New topic additions include time, patterns, quick facts, and new mathematical reasoning activities (to name a few). These activities definitely make the app more appropriate for elementary students, as it moves the focus from number sense to math facts, time, and more complicated mathematical reasoning. Although there have been new additions, there are two original activities that are my favorite as they go above and beyond simple math practice.

Tdm2While some activities are fairly basic, such as Counting and Number Tracing, there are a few that stand out as more than just reinforcing math skills. One is Tallies. In Tallies, the child must add or take away tallies (little square creatures that are really cute and friendly) to group them according to a target number. For example, if there are three tallies holding hands, and then the target number changes to 5, the child must drag two more tallies to the group. Then the target number might change to 4, so the child must remove one tally. I like this app because it takes the emphasis away from the child answering with a correct numeral, and instead encourages the child to interact with and move groups of items. This helps strengthen children’s number sense, which is essential to learning all math.

Another activity that stood out to me is the Little Farm activity. Animals march into a barn, and then some march out. Children then have to select the correct number of animals that are still left in the barn. Since you can only see the animals going in and leaving the barn (not while they are actually in the barn), this forces children to rely on their short term memory and their number sense. Again, an activity that builds the conceptual understandings of math without using numbers. This is great for our younger learners.

There are many excellent activities in this app, and a few that could use a bit more attention. For Todo mathexample, in Word Windows, a shade is drawn over a shop window with instructions printed on the shade. The directions might say “Count the turtles.” A lovely feature is that above the shade is an audio button that children can tap to hear the direction. A downfall of this is that the instructions that go with the audio button do not match the text on the window shade. In order to best support young readers, I think it would have been more helpful to have the two match. Another problem is that in some activities, answer choices are given on cards for children to drag into the correct boxes. The downside of this activity is that children can simply try dragging each card until the correct match is made. My son would simply drag each card until he got the correct match, and wasn’t really thinking about the activity at hand.

As before, the developers at Locomotive Labs have thought about individual users when crafting their apps. Building on the previous app that allowed the user to personalize the settings with options such as left hand mode, there is now a dyslexic font mode. When parents register with an email, multiple accounts can be created so that parents or teachers can track different children at once.  A feature that is coming soon is the ability to use the number pad at all times. This would be a welcome addition for children with fine motor issues.

Tdm3This app offers quite a lot, especially if you have a number of children who would benefit from it. The pricing, however, may be a bit steep for some, and is the reason the star rating has dropped from five for the old version to 4.5 for this one. The basic app is still wonderful and still free, and allows access to all activities, but only a few levels. To get to everything else, a variety of in-app purchases are available, and they're pretty high-priced. To unlock all possible levels and missions, there is a one-time fee of $19.99. To unlock all of the missions alone (31 of them), the price is $11.99. And to unlock all of the free choice levels for all 18 mini games, the price is $9.99. I reviewed the new version based on free content alone, and there's certainly plenty there. But for those who want more, I find the price points to be way too high.

This is a quality app that reinforces number skills, and encourages children to play with and explore numbers. And of course you can download it for free and see if it is a good fit for your needs before committing to the IAP to unlock all of the levels. Just be sure it's what you want before committing to those in-apps.
Bigelow head shotEmily Culver Bigelow is an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University and a Technology Teacher at Glendale Elementary in Nashville, Tennessee. was paid a priority review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.

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