Wednesday, March 11, 2015

OctoPlus is a top math app for early addition facts! Great for special needs, switch accessible!

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Bottom Line: A game-style app for basic addition fact fluency drill. Somewhat influenced by speed but not in an overwhelming way, this game is the best option I’ve seen for timed drill. Marketed for special needs, it’s even switch accessible and provides leveled practice for math addition facts 0-10, in a way much more appealing than timed tests.

Download OctoPlus now and start practicing math facts with a fun game with low pressure. Good for learners of all levels! (iPad/iPhone, $.99)
App store button


External links all in locked parent section.

Zyrobotics knows their market and has developed OctoPlus to meet the needs of learners at all levels. It’s designed well, great for special education and a good fit for all kindergarten and first grade students who need more proficiency and speed with math facts.

IMG_1355One of the first things I noticed when opening OctoPlus was the peaceful lack of sound effects and music. Yes, I know that sound effects and music add a lot to an app, but I dislike when they start out loud and strong immediately when opening the app. OctoPlus saves the sound for the actual game play, when it matters.

There are three options on the bottom of the home page: drill, challenge and options. Options lets the user control some settings, “buy” trophies at the OctoStore, view the high scores and visit the parent area.  There are multiple settings available, which is a great thing for an app designed for special needs. The speed of turtles and the octopus can be manually set, along with music, sound voice and more. It can even be set up for scan mode.

IMG_1356The parent area is also very helpful, with a data section to show progress and scores on each level. I love that the child can play independently while still allowing parents and teachers to see what progress is being made.

In the actual game play, opening the drill option requires the user first select a difficulty level (beginner, advanced or expert). This level changes the speed of presentation of new problems. On beginner, the problem at the top of the screen is presented for a much longer time period before switching to a new problem.

After selecting the difficulty, the user then chooses what number the game will add up to during each round. Selecting 6 means that all problems shown will add up to 6, and all of the turtles will have the answer 6. In this game, the goal isn’t to calculate, but to have lots of exposure to the different numbers that add up to each chosen sum. The user shoots the ink in order to ink the turtles (who have numbers on their shells), and the game play continues for a good long time, with a stopwatch in the corner counting down with a visual color change.

In the advanced mode, the turtles and octopus move much faster, the problems change frequently, and the turtles shoot down fire on the octopus. In expert, the pace increases even more. Often the ink hits the fire before getting to a turtle, which makes it even harder to get turtles out.

IMG_1357My favorite part of this app, though, is the challenge game play.  In challenge, there are the same three difficulty levels available. This game, unlike drill, does require the user to figure out a math problem. There are four numbers in arches along the bottom, and the octopus can only shoot the ink when the correct answer to the problem shown at the top of the screen is tapped. On beginner, three of the four numbers are for the problem shown, but in expert there are only two of four that will correctly answer the problem, and they move around a lot.

This challenge game is fun and easily adapted to those with differing skill levels. The problems are also all mixed up, with 0+3 and 1+7 appearing right after each other. The beginning level is pretty slow moving, but for students who need even more time to calculate the speed can be changed in the settings on the main home page.

I admit this game isn’t necessarily one that will keep all kids engaged for hours. However, it really serves its purpose as a math game accessible to learners at all levels. The drill section provides what is often referred to as “errorless learning,” because it’s hard to make a mistake. Instead, every child who can activate a switch or tap the iPad can knock turtles out.

I did wish that the turtles could be slowed down even more, especially in the challenge game.  There is also no way to change the settings from the game screen. If the music begins to irritate, the user has to quit out of the game or drill and go back to the home screen to access.

OctoIn addition to these little changes, I didn’t really find the OctoStore motivating. The user earns points by playing more levels, and can add little stickers into the trophy case. However, the stickers aren’t that interesting and there is no interactive ability at all. Making the reward system more engaging would bump this app up to a Top Pick.

As it stands, though, it’s still a great app, especially for special needs. OctoPlus is highly recommended for parents and teachers of kids just learning basic addition, to provide a fun game-like option for drill and practice. Plus, at just $.99, it's a great value!


Heather H loves spring, but is a little sad she won't need her electric blanket much longer.

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