Zap Zap Kindergarten Math has just released its first rendition of its kinder curriculum and it has the potential to be out of this world! TWA reviewed their first release back in May of Zap Zap Math – K6 Math Games and loved the space theme and the slick graphics that come across as gender-free. Visual Math Interactive took the feedback given after that release and focused on the foundational skills addressed in kindergarten and incorporated the CCSS and clear verbal prompts for the young learners who are not yet reading. The app is a series of eight adventures that take place in outer space, each having a particular math game centered on great gameplay and a different primary math topic. The play is centered around number sense and number recognition, counting, comparing numbers as greater than, less than, or equal to, basic addition and subtraction concepts and mathematical equality. The algorithms included in the app support individualizing the needs of each student. The ecosystem frequently scales and tracks performance while a student is playing, which subsequently makes it easier for teachers/parents to keep tabs on their kids progress.
I can tell you for a fact that if you continually make errors the levels remain the same or revert back to previously mastered levels for more practice. You cannot move ahead until you have mastered the specific content and the app has been designed to give positive reinforcement for correct answers and "just right" encouragement to keep trying when an error is made. Mini tutorials on how to play are introduced in each new segment which initiates the engagement and there is always the option to close if not needed. An option in a settings menu to turn off these regular tutorials once a child understands the gameplay would enable students more time to work with the math concepts and may want to be considered by Zap Zap Math in an update.
The pace is fast and the action is nonstop and as kids progress through the levels they unlock new missions which can be a real motivator a child. The students we worked with loved the adventure packed games and remained engaged despite the challenges. Zap Zap seems to have found the "just right" combination of features to pull the kids in and keep them playing. Although it has been recommended for children ages 3 - 6 we found that it was more appropriate for those on the older side of preschool as it does have its hurdles once the basic concepts have been mastered. It could also be a great tool for reinforcement for first and even some second graders. The more than, less than, and equals activities may be beyond your typical kindergartener as the gameplay demands quick actions to hook the right answer. Of course, I struggled with the actual catching of the right number in this segment as the fishing pole took some fast maneuvers to handle and often I hooked the wrong answer unintentionally. Of all the adventures kids seemed to all be drawn to the Counting Snake for its maze-like qualities and good old fashioned video game.
The update will include French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, and UK English.
Our wish list here would be for the levels to progress in difficulty at a slower pace as it does take time for many children to progress from 1 - 10 and then onto those teens and twenties. Think about it, we do go from ten, very quickly into eleven, twelve, and thirteen. Why isn't aren't they called twoteen and threeteen? It would be helpful if parents and teachers were able to set the specific numbers for individual needs in a settings menu.