Team Umizoomi: Math Racer

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
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Great arcade-style gameplay, but math isn't baked in.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn early math skills like recognizing numbers, counting, addition, and subtraction. Learning isn't baked in to every aspect of play but comes in pit stop breaks where kids take care of the car while answering math problems. The challenge level increases as kids master earlier concepts. They'll start with identifying numbers, move into adding one, and then ease into addition. There are no rewards for math mastery, but kids have to answer the problems to get back to the race. The racing game is fun and rewards-based, but the math seems tacked on to give Team Umizoomi: Math Racer that "educational" edge.

Ease of Play

Kids can choose to move the race cars by tapping and swiping or by tilting the device. Verbal instructions guide kids through the different math activities and car-building activity.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The Nickelodeon logo links to other Nick apps but is protected behind a kid-lock screen where parents have to type in numerals from a spelled-out code. The app ties in to the Team Umizoomi show, which has a small line of toys and other products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Team Umizoomi: Math Racer is an arcade-style racing game featuring characters from the Nickelodeon program Team Umizoomi. Kids design a race car and then drive it on the track, collecting coins and avoiding obstacles and taking pit stops to do a bit of math. The coins add up to earn more accessories for the cars, and kids earn trophies to add to the trophy room for completing different tasks. Early math skills covered include identifying numbers, recognizing more and fewer, number sequence, and addition and subtraction. Up to four users can create accounts to play on the same device.

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What's it about?

Play starts in the garage where kids design their race vehicle, choosing the body, engine, paint colors, wheels, decals, and accessories. Then they can choose their racer from three Umizoomi characters and start the race where they'll collect coins to earn prizes and avoid obstacles. They'll make a pit stop to complete three car-related math challenges and then get back to the track. Kids go off-track sometimes, too, flying through the air or going underwater. After the race, coins are added up and trophies awarded.

Is it any good?

TEAM UMIZOOMI: MATH RACER does a great job integrating the racing theme throughout play. Kids will feel like race car drivers choosing and decking out their cars, racing and maintaining them through the pit stops, and then earning trophies for their race achievements. The math curriculum covered is impressive, too, starting with number recognition and the counting sequence and moving to addition and subtraction and counting by tens. The math pit stop is a cute way to integrate math thematically, but math isn't integrated into the actual race at all or into the car-building, making the learning seem tacked on. The race runs a little long for short preschooler attention spans with each segment running more than two minutes, and it'd be nice to see some math incorporated there -- like counting the coins as they are collected in the race.

The controls are excellent. Letting kids choose between tapping and swiping the screen to move the car or to tilting the device is pure genius. Kids will have a blast playing, but since it is a relatively pricey app, parents need to be aware that math practice, while quality, is sparse.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Incorporate numbers into daily conversations. Identify numbers on signs when driving or walking, count grapes as you snack, or count the steps as you walk.

  • Point out to kids that they can change the driving style in the racing game by tapping the icon at the top left of the screen. They can choose from tilting to control the car or using their finger on the touch screen.

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