Yes, I’m all about the worksheets. And pencils.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t times I loosen things up a little bit and amp up the creativity. Because no matter how much fun that old-school math fact practice can be, I know the munchkins need a change of pace. Color, sound, drama… Everything a really good math fact game brings to the table. Along with a really huge twist, an amazing “One More Thing” that I’m going to save for the end of this post.
There many online flash card math games out there, and if you’ve seen the same ones I have, they’re dreadful. Most of them reinforce the idea that you do a few math problems to earn play time, which to me is almost psychologically predisposing kids to think that math is a sort of chore, or even punishment. There had to be a way to make the math practice part of the enjoyment and part of the reward, not the drudgery that gets you to the (lame) prize.
What I came up with is something that I think is the opposite of these attempts at math fact misery. Pick your operation and give it a spin right here, or you can get to it from anywhere on the site using the ‘Math Flash’ entry in the menu on the top of the page…
What makes Math Flash different from other online flash card games? For one, the math facts are an integral part of the game… As you solve math problems, you’re building up a supply of color in the machine that will spray over the background. But you have to answer the facts quickly, because the machine leaks quite a bit. The more facts you answer correctly and the faster your answer them, the quicker you get through the level and the more colorful the artwork you’re building up. But importantly, the animation and the interactivity is happening while you answer the problems, and each problem you answer adds to the sense of progress you’re making on the level itself.
The levels in each version of Math Flash (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) are all tied to the Spaceship Math facts worksheets on this site. The levels start out with easier facts and gradually introduce new facts. You start with a set of the easiest facts for each operation, and subsequent levels add progressively more difficult facts to the mix. So the learning curve is incremental, but still rewarding for kids just beginning their journey of mastering a specific operation’s family of facts.
As I mentioned, you’ll also see that if you’re slow to answer facts or if you get some facts wrong, it’ll take more correct answers to get through a level. This means if you know the easier facts, you’ll move quickly to the next level. If you’re still struggling with certain fact families, you’ll get more practice on the problems you’re slow to answer. If you wind up not answer enough problems correctly on a level, the game will end and you’ll be given a link to the worksheet focusing on the facts you need to practice.
Also, if you miss problems, those will are show up more frequently. The game adapts itself to the specific skills and the specific trouble spots of individual players, getting them to the practice more on the math facts they need the most help with.
When you reach the end, whether you made it all the way through or just started missing too many facts along the way, you’ll have created a unique piece of artwork that will make you feel like Jackson Pollock. You can share this creation on Pinterest or Facebook if you like (and if you would, I’d really appreciate it!)
Oh, and there’s one more thing. If you’re using Chrome on the desktop, and if you have a microphone, Math Flash will make use of the HTML5 Web Speech API to let you give answers to problems using your voice! When I built MathFlash, I wanted to recreate as much of that childhood flash card experience (sans the 70’s print couch) as possible, and this feels like an incredibly natural way to practice math facts. Kids without strong typing or mouse skills will find this is a great way to practice math at their own pace, and it’s really a showcase of what can be done in a web browser today.
You’ll need a reliable internet connection, and for now it only works in Chrome, however the other browsers will hopefully implement this standard soon. If you don’t have Chrome, you can still play by clicking on the correct answers.
I hope you’ll give Math Flash a try and make it a part of your summer math fact retention plans!