Educational software expert JumpStart® successfully blends education and fun in its latest mobile app – Madagascar Math Ops™. With twenty years experience in the business, it’s no surprise my kids were engrossed for hours with the Madagascar zoo crew. Read on for our full review!
The beloved Penguins from the DreamWorks Animation Madagascar franchise are making their first mobile game debut starring in Madagascar Math Ops™. With this game, kids can dive into an educational and mathematical covert operation with the Penguins. Players must solve puzzling math equations to help the Penguins rescue their fellow Madagascar pals Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria from evil henchmen.
Why I Reviewed It
I was first introduced to JumpStart learning software a decade ago, when my dad bought me the JumpStart Toddler and Pre-K CDs. My toddler LOVED them, and so did I. He got to learn how to use a mouse, as well as learn basic “cause and effect” skills, accompanied by catchy (but not annoying) tunes.
This was a big deal back then. It was very difficult to find software that was easy enough for toddlers to use, taking into consideration that their fine motor skills were still developing. Too many other titles out there were just frustrating for little kids to use and not fun at all. These were just perfect and I happily used them with both my boys. (I have the song playing in my head as I write this!)
When JumpStart reached out to me to review this latest app, I was curious. I had a fair amount of faith in the company based on past experience, but times have changed and I wondered whether the apps would appeal to my now-tween boys. They might be educational, but would they actually be fun and something kids would want to play?
I’m happy to say both parents and kids rated Madagascar Math Ops™ a win!
Here’s how the game works:
Kids select a grade and combination of skills to be tested (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division).
Within each of these there are several levels of increasing difficulty.
Starting at the first level the child is presented with a series of Math problems and must tap the correct answer for each equation displayed.
Once these are answered correctly, the child then gets a chance to free the Zoosters.
This is the real “game” part of the app, and the penguins must be angled just right to free the Zoo buddies from their cages and squash the evil henchmen. More correct answers mean more power ups and chances (dropping pins, more speed, more powerful impact) to successfully complete the level.
Completing each level rewards you with coins which can help you unlock different “worlds” – the default is New York, but Paris and Sydney are also available.
If you fail to free the zoo friends or eliminate the henchmen from the level and you repeat it, you’ll be presented with different questions at the same difficulty level, but the same layout of obstacles and henchmen standing in your way.
Why It Works
The game is addictive.
Sure there’s the Math element, and while there are probably very few kids out there who will WANT to practice their Math skills (except when motivated by an upcoming quiz or exam) most kids will not mind doing the basic Math in order to access “the real deal” – aiming those penguins, hitting the targets and racking up points.
Let’s also be clear on what the educational support is here.
This isn’t a teaching app. There’s no instruction on how to tackle these Math concepts. This is a reinforcement tool which gets the kids to practice the skills they’re already learning in class.
In our schools we have “Mental Arithmetic” quizzes. These are timed tests where the kids have a limited amount of time to work out a basic math problem in their heads (hence – Mental Arithmetic). It’s great practice in developing “number sense” which has real world implications, and it’s wonderful mental stimulation.
If your kids have quizzes of this nature in their schools – this app will be very helpful in getting in practice. Even if they don’t, it’s still a very useful way to boost their Math skills.
Getting back to the game. It really is fun. I had the kids try it and wondered if they’d bring the iPad straight back after 5 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised that they kept at it for at least 45 minutes the very first time I gave it to them. In order to keep them unbiased, I didn’t tell them I was writing a review. I just told them I’d downloaded a game for them that I’d like them to try out.
After they gave their feedback, my husband and I decided we would try it out to get a parent’s perspective. I am AWFUL at games, especially physics-based games like this is. Hubs is great at it, so needless to say he left me in the dust, progressing really quickly and racking up points!
I had a lot of repeating of levels to do, because I suck at freeing the animals AND getting the henchmen. For review purposes I considered it a plus though, since that let me experience repeating of the Math component of each level. I was happy to see that the identical questions weren’t presented over and over, so everything felt fresh… even under the pressure of not being able to get rid of those pesky henchmen!
Both hubs and I agreed with the kids that it was the most fun educational game we’ve come across for grades 1-4, and one that you actually don’t mind playing.
Pop Up Advertisements
Once the game is loaded, there is a pop up ad for another JumpStart game. This can be dismissed, but it’s not difficult to imagine a child being confused, clicking the large brightly-coloured button and being redirected to the App Store instead of to the game they expected to play.
I’m not a huge fan of pop-up ads in games for kids, especially ones which take over the screen and force interaction with them. That said, once the ad is by-passed it does not appear again during gameplay except when switching grade/topic selection.
In our review, we were only ever presented with one ad (at game start and when switching levels) which the kids easily bypassed to return to the game, after their first encounter with it.
As a parent I’m not averse to developers letting me know what other apps are available. In fact, if I like your app I may indeed want to know what related apps you offer. I would recommend that JumpStart move to less aggressive ad placement such as a banner display below the score after each level is attempted.
We liked the game, and we will be using it to reinforce Math skills in our home. I don’t expect that the kids are ever going to say “Hey Mom can I play Math Ops” out of the blue (unless they’re preparing for exams), but I do think they would gladly squeeze in some Math Ops time when we want them to get in some practice.
Madagascar Math Ops™ launches on iOS®, Android™ and Kindle® for $2.99 and FREE download today, June 5th 2013.
Disclosure: I was provided with a JumpStart promotional code at no cost JumpStart in order to test the products’ abilities and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided.
The following two tabs change content below.
Outspoken, a mother of 3 and a bit of a creative nerd. Nicole is passionate about family and social good, and blogs from Trinidad & Tobago. Download her mobile app
available for Android