Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
One thing I am always on the lookout for is a way to make practicing math facts fun and easy. When we were offered a license to use MathRider recently, I jumped at the chance. This program makes it fun to practice facts. In fact, for the first several days we had it, Mr. Sweetie, Mr. Imagination and Little Miss all competed to be able to play it first! The enthusiasm has lessened somewhat as the facts are getting harder, but they still enjoy it, for the most part.
The basic idea is that you and your horse Shadow go on a quest. You might need to find a flower to cure your mother, a gem that some monkeys have stolen, or the place to which a kidnapped princess has been taken. To meet the goal, you must ride your horse through a series of beautiful and mysterious lands, and the horse must jump one obstacle after another. The only way he can make the jumps is if you answer the math facts correctly before he gets to them. The faster you answer, the faster he runs and the more points you get, which means you finish the quest sooner. Each quest contains as many rides of 30 math facts each as it needs to so that you can get the number of points needed for that quest.
Players only answer facts for one function at a time. It is recommended to do the addition quests first, and then subtraction, followed by multiplication and division. Each function has four levels, and the recommendation is to do the Starter level first, then Intermediate and Advanced, finishing with Master. That last one appears to be just one ride. I’m the only one who has reached that level yet here, and it seemed that finishing was based on speed and accuracy. After every ride, you get to look at the map to see how far through the quest you have gotten. From that, you can see how much farther you have to go to reach the goal.
Except for one thing, I really like MathRider. I hadn’t been actively looking for a program to make math practice fun, but I am glad to have this, and we’ll be using it until we stop for our summer break, around Christmas. I like that the children can use this without any help from me, and I like that they are only racing themselves, not other children or the computer. I like that the program adjusts itself quickly to the child’s speed; Shadow walks or runs according to how fast the answer is entered. I really like the simplicity, yet attractiveness, of this program! I also like that the program is offline. You simply download the installer, install the program, and enter the registration key that has been emailed.
The one thing I don’t like is the magical aspect. In one of the quests, there is a wizard who gives you directions for the quest, and the ending is always somewhat magical. It’s such a good program otherwise, though, that we’ll use it for awhile anyway.
Little Miss really likes MathRider still. Mr. Sweetie says it’s “ok.” Mr. Imagination says it’s awful. He has tried the same quest six times and still can’t achieve mastery! I think all three are stuck on the Intermediate level of Addition. It is certainly exposing their weak areas! Mr. Sweetie, for example, doesn’t know 5+7=12 very well. Mr. Imagination has still been counting on his fingers to add, even though he’s in fourth grade; I noticed that by now, after a month of using MathRider, he’s not using his fingers as much. I think that, if we’re consistent with it, he’ll learn the facts a lot better.