What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Math Snacks is a small but clever collection of math videos and games covering elementary school concepts with accompanying teacher and student materials. Developed by the New Mexico State University Learning Games Lab, the content is meant to appeal to kids who don't even like math, giving them a new way to look at concepts. Six videos and five games, plus three overlapping iOS apps, are free and well executed, hip and humorous, and reminiscent of the classic Schoolhouse Rock! series. Spanish-language versions of each game, leaner guide, animation, and comic book transcript are available.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- following directions
Thinking & Reasoning
- applying information
- part-whole relationships
- academic development
- achieving goals
- time management
- working efficiently
Engagement, Approach, Support
Action-packed graphics deliver witty story lines to a background of upbeat music. How to play each game is usually quite clear or easy for kids to pick up on.
Concrete, real-world examples overlaid with verbal and visual calculations enliven ratio and proportion. Hopefully, other concepts will be this well-developed in the future.
Classroom extension resources are diverse and thorough but still need a bit of polish. Lesson plans and standards alignment are available for each "snack."
What's it about?
MATH SNACKS features a series of fun videos and games that address math concepts. Animations and games, as well as teacher and student materials, run on the website or can be downloaded for free. Two of the games, Pearl Diver and Ratio Rumble, are available for purchase as stand-alone iOS apps. A free app that includes all animations is also available. Kids watch videos or download comic versions to learn concepts and then can follow up with student work pages. Most of the online games have action and fun, with clear goals and a single basic math concept each. Progress is saved without registration. Participants in a school study register with their name, grade, birth date, teacher, and location so their activity can be tracked for evaluation purposes. A newer feature includes integration with existing teacher dashboards or portals, such as Edumodo.com, allowing parents and teachers to access Math Snacks within a framework for lesson planning, assessing, and reporting.
Is it any good?
All kids will dig Math Snacks' exciting and clever animations, but kids struggling with middle school math concepts will benefit, especially by absorbing concepts with ease through playful, in-the-know humor. Topics focus on ratio, proportion, rate, and scale (including measurement) and less so on coordinate graphing, fractions, and decimals. Parents might want to print out the accompanying Learner's Guides, but kids will absorb a lot without them as well. The main animation focusing on measurement and conversion, "Overruled!", is a bit weaker math-wise than the others, but quality overall is outstanding. Two of the games and the video collection are available as iOS apps as well.
Extensions and resources are numerous but sometimes a bit difficult to locate in numerous layers. Game levels ramp up slowly yet steadily, meaning that challenge is always present but tasks are never overly difficult or impossible. Overall, Math Snacks is a welcome addition to the accessible math pantheon.
Families can talk about...
Have a kid who's adamant about hating math? Have them explore the site and talk about what their fears are, math-wise.
Watch "Ratey the Math Cat" (it's pretty funny!) and talk to your kids about where math pops up in their everyday lives.