A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Math – Decimals Subtraction is a graphically slick app with good tutorials but repetitive games and some gender bias. 3-D virtual tutors lead kids through three situational algorithms including one cool shortcut. Yet functionality feels disjointed, games are not engaging visually or otherwise, and the female avatar has a bit of physical attitude and no role in games that consist of one boy pitching a baseball and another saving a hunched-over girl. While games all include an ET-esque alien and intergalactic tension of some kind, they feel decidedly uncompetitive.
What's it about?
Kids create a username, select a "friend" avatar, and wander around their virtual room where they tap a TV to enter the games. New users take a 10-item pretest to "get you warmed up for interesting games ahead." Next, kids can choose to view three tutorials or play a game to unlock the two following games, earning points and stars (bronze, silver, gold), all leading to a post test.
Is it any good?
MATH - DECIMALS SUBTRACTION has some potential, and the developers made an effort to create a pedagogically sound educational game. But, in the end, the results are disappointing. On the plus side, the use of pre- and post-tests suggests kids and adults will be able to measure success. 3-D virtual tutors lead kids through three situational algorithms including one cool shortcut for borrowing, and performance pages for each game show correct answers as well as questions. Sounds good, right?
Where to begin? Text is often too small, lacks contrast, or is in a nearly unreadable font. Tutorials -- the app's best feature -- aren't integrated and are easy for kids to overlook, plus they don't address any of the mental math strategies kids need to do the multi-digit calculations the games require. Tests are tedious, have confusing instructions, and include skills the games don't address. All that aside, the games just aren't engaging. A weird quirk: multiple choices for Hungry Monster allow players to calculate only the rightmost digit to get an answer. Feedback on the baseball mini-game is unintuitive, with correct answers resulting in a strike and incorrect answers earning a home run. Finally, the female avatar has her hands on classically cocked hips tossing her head back suggestively. Strangely, she and the male avatar don't even figure into the games at all, which feature some other boy pitching a baseball at an alien or saving a girl from an alien by lowering a ladder -- a girl who happens to be hunched over and completely inactive. Ouch!
Talk to your kids about ...
- Devices: iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
- Subjects: Math: subtraction
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information
- Price: Free-$2.99
- Pricing structure: Free to try, Free
- Release date: March 22, 2013
- Category: Education
- Size: 103.00 MB
- Publisher: Mango Learning Inc
- Version: Android 1.3; iOS 1.1
- Minimum software requirements: Android 2.2 and up; iOS 4.3 or later
- Last updated: August 17, 2016
Our editors recommend
For kids who love math
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.