Math - Decimals Subtraction App Poster Image

Math - Decimals Subtraction

Mixed bag of cool tutorials, frustrating games, gender bias.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn the standard algorithm for subtracting decimals in three categories: subtracting whole numbers from decimals, subtracting decimals from whole numbers (trickiest), and subtracting decimals from decimals. They'll learn to work quickly and to assess their own work through performance pages that show scores at the end of games and tests. But the many negatives overwhelm the positives from this app. Math – Decimals Subtraction makes an effort but really misses the mark on engagement, interface, and positive messaging.

Ease of play

Load time can be slow, instructions and gameplay are confusing, touch points small, text small with inconsistent contrast.

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The free version of the app includes the option to upgrade to the full version for $2.99; the full version includes access to the post test, tutorial videos, and mini-games.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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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.

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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! 

Families can talk about...

  • Make sure your kids check out the tutorial first.

  • Ask if your kids have learned any mental math strategies at school and ask them to teach them to you.

App details

Devices:iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
Subjects:Math: subtraction
Skills:Thinking & Reasoning: applying information
Self-Direction: self-assessment
Pricing structure:Free to Try, Free
Release date:March 22, 2013
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

This review of Math - Decimals Subtraction was written by

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