Educating individuals is not always an easy task and it is particularly difficult to educate children when they are not interested in the subject matter that is being presented to them. In order to combat the tedium of learning, many educators are turning to entertainment-education tactics—including gamification—to garner children’s interest in the materials that they must remember. In the case of finding fun ways to learn mathematics, “Go Math! Academy” is par none.
Go Math! Academy is an at-home math learning website with math problems, math help videos, and lots of motivators to keep kids engaged. Children can work on their full grade-level curriculum in order, or they can choose individual topics and skills to work on. It is a great way to prepare for tests, get extra support or homework help, or to keep math skills fresh over the summer.
Go Math! Academy is operated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the publisher that produces the math textbooks that are used in most classrooms. By taking the lessons in the traditional text books and turning them into engaging online games, Go Math! Academy has found the way to bridge the gap between learning and play. By making homework fun children will actively want to conquer the games and, in the process, learn the mathematical concepts that drive each activity. Best of all, the games on Go Math! Academy can be played by kids at home and at their own pace so it is also an excellent teaching tool for homeschoolers.
According to the official website:
“The Go Math! school program is used by more than seven million students worldwide. Aligned with the goals of the Common Core State Standards, the trusted GO Math! curriculum forms the basis of our Go Math! Academy at-home learning program. Go Math! Academy features hundreds of entertaining video lessons taught by expert educators. These lessons can be searched by grade and topic for targeted homework help and skill refreshers. Parents: The way your child learns math in school may be very different from the way you learned it. Our math help tips are designed to help parents navigate the new math standards.”
One of the most interesting features about Go Math! Academy is that the challenge level of the games is customizable. For example, children can move around the curriculum at will so a child who is good at math can easily move ahead of the standard pace. The Go Math! Academy curriculum can be accessed in order from each grade (starting with topic 1, skill 1) but, alternatively, a child can select a topic of interest further on in the curriculum and feel free to skip ahead a grade or review a concept from a previous year.
At present, Go Math! Academy has games for kids ranging from grades Kindergarten to 6th grade with activities for 7th and 8th graders coming soon. Recently, I was given the opportunity to review some of the Go Math! Academy games and, from the start, I was impressed. For one thing, there were detailed animated instructions that clearly explained how to use the system, play the games and answer the questions. This was incredibly helpful for beginners.
All the questions on “Go Math! Academy” come with the option to have the question read aloud (which is incredibly helpful to dyslexics) and a “Help Me” button is available in case someone is struggling with a particular question (also, a question can be switched to a different one—although still in the same category—if need be). In some cases there is also a “Show Me” button available that gives users the option to watch a video explaining how to decipher a particular kind of math problem.
I explored the contents of “Go Math! Academy” via games for “Kindergarten” which is the youngest age-group offered. There are 12 groups in the Kindergarten roster and between 7 and 12 chapters in every group. Each chapter set consists of between 3 and 6 age-appropriate math questions. Once an answer is selected a voiceover will either confirm that the answer is right or gently tell the user to try again. This dialogue offers a somewhat personalized and interactive quality to the process.
In the Kindergarten level there were two kinds of templates offered, one depicting outer space and the other depicting under the sea. However these were mere backgrounds and the actual questions were fairly straightforward. Yet once a “chapter” is completed either a rocket or a spaceship animation flies through the air (with changing space or undersea backgrounds like planets and fish) and this adds an element of amusement and reward. Additionally, as you work through the questions you will be awarded a virtual “Power Progress” coin and, if you do especially well, you can even unlock a game.
The first game I unlocked on the Kindergarten level was called “Bubble Pop.” This game required children to find certain shapes (like squares) inside of bubbles and “tap” them to pop the bubble. Hence, while playing the game the child learns about shapes. A bonus game required players to look at six different balloons with different numbers of dots in them and dag together the bubbles that had the same number of dots in them. Later, the game asked players to match the amount of dots with the number that represents that amount (such as dragging a balloon with the number 3 in it to the balloon that has three dots). As simple as these games sound, they help to prove if a child truly understands the concept of numbers and amounts. Other games featured locations like a train track and a candy store to convey similar counting and assorting lessons.
The other age levels followed the same basic formula as the Kindergarten system did. Overall, this program is strictly educational and is a lot like taking a test or answering multiple-choice questions. Yet the colorful backgrounds, amusing games, encouraging voiceovers and useful “help” features certainly make “Go Math! Academy” a cut far above a traditional textbook. The only true point of contention for me was that the instructions repeatedly referred to circle shapes as “counters.” This language is rather confusing, especially when directed at very young children. Despite this, anyone who homeschools should absolutely consider this program as a means of teaching their children math.
Go Math! Academy can be accessed via a subscription plan. All plans include up to five children and the first 14 days are free. The Monthly plan is $9.99, the 6 Month Plan is $49.99 and the Yearly plan is $79.99. For additional information about pricing and Go Math! Academy in general visit the official website.