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The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that DigitWhiz is a personalized math-practice tool that kids can use at home or school. They'll play a variety of games to practice multiplication, division, integer operations, combining like terms, and solving equations. They're all a bit different, and some are more fun than others; EquationsWhiz has you drag tiles around to complete equations, whereas others require speedy mental math skills. Some games let you choose whether you'd like the theme to be Animals, Sports, or Nature. It's best used for practice once kids have been introduced to a topic, as games move along pretty fast and don't really address the basics. Kids may be assigned to use DigitWhiz for class, or individuals can set up their own free accounts at home.
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What's it about?
DigitWhiz is a free practice tool to build foundational math skills for third graders and up. It includes the study of all things digit-related, including division, subtraction, integers, and equations. Kids will first take a handful of speed and accuracy quizzes to determine their current skill level. They'll then get to choose which games they'd like to play. Games such as IntegerWhiz require kids to do some mental math, then type an answer into a blank field. MultiBounce teaches multiples as kids click on bouncing number balls. As kids play, they earn points, which can be used in the Digi Prize Store to purchase digital stickers or accessories for their Digi avatars. Teachers, parents, and kids can track progress through time spent on the games and performance on online Mastery Tests.
Is it any good?
DigitWhiz is one of the many online math-practice programs that have popped up lately. It stands out because it has two things going for it that don't always appear together: it's free and high-quality. There's an emphasis on really identifying where each kid is math-wise and then doling out targeted games at that level.
Some of the other free math-practice sites such as Tutpup and XtraMath simply have kids use the computer to enter answers. DigitWhiz ups the ante by adding games and virtual prizes that offer some extra excitement for kids. You don't have to play for very long to get enough points to buy Digi a little beanie or a pet caterpillar, and the avatar is actively encouraging on the sidelines as kids play. DigitWhiz games aren't quite as fun as those on some sites that cost money like Reflex. However, kids can end up manipulating tiles or numbers in an active way that moves beyond simply typing numbers into a computer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the phrase "practice makes perfect." Why is practice so important in math?
Families also can talk about why math is important. Ask your kids which jobs they think require math; share an unexpected use of math in careers such as fashion, music, or food service.
For families who want to learn more about using cooking with math, check out Math in Daily Life -- Cooking by Numbers.
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