Thursday, February 9, 2012

Riding Towards Success...Swiftly!

Some reviews are easier to write than others. This is one of the easiest reviews I will write this year because I can tell you that the product has already had an incredible impact on my kids. I am smiling as I type this when I think about how Ladybug and Cowboy's confidence levels, in relation to their recollection of math facts, has increased by quite a lot over the past month they have been using a fun math facts game called Math Rider.

Math Rider is an intelligent math facts game. This means that the program adjusts the problem set based upon your child's performance so that problems that are missed are reviewed more frequently until they are mastered. This is just what I do when I drill my children using the old-fashioned flash card method. Cards they respond to quickly and correctly are put into the "got it" pile, while cards for facts they take too long to give an answer for or answer incorrectly are put into a "do it again" pile. We then proceed through the "do it again" pile until all of the cards are in the "got it" pile. Not a whole lot of bells and whistles using that method, but it works...eventually. However, the kids (and their mother) aren't always enthusiastic about "drilling" with the flash cards.

free flashcards from

We've tried various methods of encouraging math facts practice in our homeschool. I have several of those Leapfrog Turbo Twist games, Addition and Subtraction War cards, Addition and Subtraction Bingo, and books of drill sheets, not to mention the other online or downloadable computer facts drilling methods we've tried, both free or purchased...While each of the aforementioned methods might work when used, it is the fact that you have to get the kids to want to use them that is the problem. Games are fine now and then, but not for every day. Pencil and paper drill give me nightmares (Bubba had a very bad experience with them in public school). Flashcards are fine, but time intensive for me, and kind of, ahem, boring.

Enter Math Rider. Easily our favorite math product of the year!! Ladybug and Cowboy can't get enough of it. They ask me (on their own) if they can play it for a while. It seems to have escaped their notice that it is actually work! I love it. 

Here's is what Math Rider is all about:

  • It's an intelligent math game that adjusts to your child's accuracy and speed.
  • While it is intended for ages 6-12, older students can certainly use it as a periodic skill sharpener and younger students who are able to type using the number pad and who recognize the numbers in the problems can use it.
  • The basis of the game is that you have to undertake a quest which requires you to ride your horse, Shadow, across the Mathlands, solving problems (which are obstacles the horse jumps) as you go. I like the fact that the storyline is noble, and has the riders undertaking their quest for the greater good (not just for the purposes of competing or fighting or anything else that is somewhat random).
  • There is a progress map so your child can see how far they have gotten and how far they have to go to achieve their goal.

  • Progress points are given for accuracy and speed, so different riders will make progress at different rates even if they are completing the same number of rides per day.
  • Each run within a quest has thirty problems...this seemed like a lot the first time the kids did it, but they got used to it quickly. It does not bother them at all now.
  • At the end of a quest, rewards are given that reflect the level of mastery of the rider...there are 16 potential quests and rewards...improvement is rewarded, as well as mastery.
  • There are four operations (+ - x / ) for which you can drill 0-12 math facts at three different levels (easy, medium, advanced), plus a master level you have to earn.
  • You can have your students do practice runs that do not impact the statistics associated with their account...these runs can be on any operation and you can choose the number of problems in each run as well as the testing range or even working with a specific number set!

  • Parents and students can see individual progress charts showing which numbers and problems have been the end of each individual run within a quest, riders see a graph showing which problems were answered correctly, which ones were correct but answered slowly, and which ones were kids really liked this.
  • Math Rider is available for both Windows and Mac
  • Normally, the cost for Math Rider is $47. Until February 15th, however, you can purchase it for $37...that's a savings of $10! But wait, there's more!! Log onto Facebook and "Like" Fun Math Games: Math Rider to immediately get a code for an additional $5 off the price. Yippee!!
  • Math Rider is good for up to 8 riders in your household and may be loaded on up to three computers. This makes it ideal for homeschool use, and very economical.
  • Math Rider also automatically checks for updates to the game (there has been one during our trial of the game) and downloads them for no additional cost.

Check out this video about Math Rider. Once you check it out, sign up
for the free seven day trial to see if you like it as much as we do.

What we thought about Math Rider:
  • Mom: I love, love, love it. I never have to argue with the kids about doing their math drills anymore. I am loving seeing Ladybug's (age 8) speed and accuracy improve. We did oral drills in the car the other day and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly she'd jump in with a correct answer. Cowboy's (age 6) knowledge base is growing, though his speed (limited by his ability to remember where the number keys are) is still slower than hers.
  • Cowboy: I like the horse and I like doing quests because I am a cowboy and a knight. Math is fun! It is not hard at all.
  • Mom: The kids are much more likely to bring math into a conversation now. Their added confidence in their math facts has affected their interest in exploring other more complex facets of math. This makes sense since knowing basic facts is one of the essential building blocks of math success. Once you have the solid foundation of knowing your math facts it is very simple to start adding more bricks on top of that. I am glad we tested this product. I plan to purchase it when our trial is over.
  • Mom: I added "Math Rider Drills" to their weekly checklist and finishing enough drills to complete a quest is usually one of the first things they do. Then they still want to do more...I have had to kick them off of the computer (doing math) to go play for a while. I love it!!
  • Mom: I particularly appreciate the fact that when the kids type in a wrong answer, the horse simply snorts quietly and stops at the jump while the computer repeats the problem, showing and stating what the correct answer is...then play resumes without any fuss. I also appreciate that the music is pleasant instead of loud and obnoxious like on so many games today.
  • Ladybug: I like Math Rider a lot. I love horses and Shadow is a nice horse. I like the castles and the scenery in the game. I do not think the game is too hard and I do think other kids would like it. I think I am learning to know more math by playing the game. It is a lot of fun!!
  • Mom: This game utilizes the four learning modalities: auditory and visual skills (spoken and written math you can have your kids repeat the problems they miss to add more), as well as tactile and kinesthetic (typing...and bouncing up and down in your seat when your horse jumps if you are Cowboy). It has a creative storyline that engages the learner's interest. 
  • Dad: I appreciate that it is a math drill game that doesn't muddy up the waters of what its purpose is with a lot of nonsense that distracts the kids from what they are supposed to be learning. I also appreciate that the quests are noble, since that is a quality we want to instill in our kids. Instead of the conflict of fighting or characters aimlessly doing something for foolish reasons, the idea is that the riders are using their math skills to help someone. The premise of this game fits in with life lessons we are trying to teach our kids.

--To see what other Crew members thought about Math Rider, check out the TOS Crew blog.
--You can also see other reviews at the Math Rider website.
--Check out answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Math Rider.
--Not sure if Math Rider is for you? Sign up for a seven day free trial of the full version. The practice mode stays enabled even after your trial is over!!
--Ready to go for a ride? Buy Math Rider now, but don't forget to "like" Fun Math Game: Math Rider on Facebook first for a $5 off coupon! The low price of $37 only lasts until February 15th, so don't wait too long...


Disclaimer: We received a trial subscription of Math Rider for the purposes of offering our honest opinion here on our blog. No other compensation was offered to us. If you have questions about this product, feel free to comment or contact me.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post! I think you've encapsulated the mission of this blog and our challenge.

Nicole ~ "I'm staying home with my mom!" said...

I 'pinned' this review quite a while ago, with the intention of purchasing it for my 10yo daughter to use for practice this summer, before we begin 'school' again in the fall. Long story short, I didn' question now is, would this be ok to be complete math curriculum, or is it more of a practice/add on to existing curriculum? She hates math and isn't where she should be as far as knowing her math facts (she's starting 5th grade and last year was rough :) Just wondering where to factor this into our school as I'm sure she will love it (she loves horses and 'learning games') Thanks for any advice you can pass along :)

Heather said...

This would not be considered a complete curriculum. The only thing it really works on is math facts. It's a fun addition, but you'd need a book, like Horizons math, to use to teach the basics, then use Math Rider to have fun practicing the math facts. Cap'n Jax math facts is another program, slightly less fancy, but still gives good drill practice. Oddly, my 8 yo likes it as much or more because you can set the time to respond and you earn printable certificates with interesting sayings on them. You can also order patches, which I did, but they haven't gotten quite that far to earn them yet. I think it might be less expensive, so it might work as a supplement better. I've heard Singapore math is great, though I've never used it as a curriculum. We've usually done Horizons and my kids like it.

I do find the math facts computer drills to be very helpful. Check out Math 911, too, as I think there may be simple operations covered on its very comprehensive program, but we just tried the algebra part. It's on sale, too, and would last for years and years. I liked it a lot, even though it is very simple. I found that took the distractions out of it and put the focus back on math. I hope that helps. There's plenty out there to choose from.

Math Rider IS a lot of fun, but the one thing my daughter does not like is that the missions do not change often, so it can get repetitive. We've found that out as we've used it more. She does like the horse thing, though.

I thought of two more: IXL and Quarter Mile Math. My 7 year old boy prefers Quarter Mile Math because you race yourself and your own scores, plus there are cars AND horses. I like IXL because there are lots of areas of math practice, not just facts. You can do 20 problems a day on each computer for free.

There are other free games out there. Try Cool Math Games for some variety, and I just found this one, but it has a limit like IXL (then you have to pay...but it does have variety, too) (this may have limited play, too, but the addition game was good).

Then there are these math facts ones I found by Googling "math facts games:" ,, ,

Last, but not least, for math practice, not just math facts, there is Khan Academy, which IS a full curriculum. It has videos and a huge online grid. Your child earns badges (online) for performance and keeps track of success from addition to calculus by earning colored stars which periodically change back to "practice" color to give students a reminder to keep practicing old skills. My oldest (at home) son used it last year for math and progressed quite far in , Pre-Algebra/Algebra practice, so if money is an issue and you want a full curriculum, give it a try, along with one of those free practice games. I liked Wild Math, myself, and I like IXL for targeted practice. You can set up a simple blog/webpage for your child with links to her classwork, then she can click on that page every day to complete her online options. It helps me a lot to do that, especially on days that are hectice or ones where I do not feel up to sitting at the table watching them, or when I need to have time to work with another student.

I do like Math Rider a lot, but we did try many math programs. If you can get a good deal on it from somewhere like Homeschool Buyer's Co-op, it is definitely worth it to motivate a horse-crazy girl. It helped my Ladybug lose her fear of math facts drills and she asked to do her practice each day, so evaluate what you think is best for your individual child.

Well, sorry for the delay in responding. I haven't had time to check email lately as I was hurt while doing renovations on our house. I hope all is well with you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...