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Very few educational math apps have recognizable characters, but the newest such iOS edutainment game from JumpStart features animals from the Madagascar series of animated films. Madagascar Math Ops balances education with fun by rewarding good math skills with an Angry Birds-like physics game, in which you hurl the penguins – who are wearing jetpacks – at obstacles in order to free the other animal characters.
The math comes in making fuel for the jetpacks. Kids must complete a series of math questions to do so, and the questions range from picking the correct equation from a list to solving problems or filling in the correct number. The game has six different types of math problems to choose from and covers lessons from 1st through 4th grade.
After completing the math problems correctly, kids can play the game, which involves tapping and sliding on the screen to launch a penguin at obstacles. The penguins have different types of jetpacks that enable them to explode, change directions, or drop bowling pins. In order to complete a level, the penguins must destroy the animal cages, as well as any of the burly men who stand guard. Once completed, it’s back to the math before the next level, which ensures a cycle of practicing math skills to yield fun moments. Additional features are available if parents register at JumpStart.com, such as adding multiple players or transferring coins to their online world.
From an educational standpoint, the game doesn’t so much teach math as it quizzes kids on existing math knowledge, but the game portion can be fun, even for adults. After each launch, two monkeys hold up score cards that might be a number, a letter, or a random object, and that little touch is amusing. Some of the math questions involve turning a dial to select the correct answer, however, and that gets tedious after a while. We also wondered why the game didn’t simply allow kids to input numbers. And on that note, all questions are multiple choice, making the math even easier.
The bottom line. Madagascar Math Ops takes the gameplay of Angry Birds and throws in educational content. It might not make your kid a math whiz, but it’s better than flash cards.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later
Recognizable characters. Proven, amusing gameplay. Math is a requirement to progress.
All problems are multiple choice. Dial input method is tedious.