Saturday, September 4, 2010

iLive Math: my favorite iTouch apps

For the past few months, we have been using some incredible iPod Touch applications in our schooling, as I mentioned in my post on how we use technology in our homeschooling.  iHomeEducator has created a series of apps, iLiveMath, that are fairly inexpensive, and I love what the kids get to practice.  At this point, we own the majority of their apps (six of eight iLiveMath titles), and I'm going to briefly tell you about the ones we have.  These apps work on iPhones, and most (all?) work on iPads as well.  Not that I would know, I don't have one of those.  Maybe someday.

iLiveMath Animals of Africa was, I think, the first one we got.  The basic idea is that each app has a theme, and there are amazing photos in the background of each page.  When I open Animals of Africa this time, I have a close-up of a giraffe, and I get the chance to choose which level (1, 2, or 3) I want to work at.
  • Level 1 includes addition and subtraction.  The first problem I got this time is "In an African animal preserve there are 7 elephants and 3 parrots.  What is the sum?"  There is a photo of a parrot's head in the background.  To answer the question, you click on the "?" (which threw us at first, but now we know) and you get a scroll wheel... so the answer choices are all whole numbers from 7 to 17... no multiple choice process of elimination stuff going on here!  If I enter "11" the screen pops up telling me "Sorry.  Incorrect Answer: 11" so I do know what I input.  Hitting okay lets me try again.  This time, it tells me "That's Correct.  7 + 3 = 10"  I LOVE that the math equation is written out in the answer.
  • Level 2 includes addition, subtraction and multiplication.  The first question I got this time includes a photo of an elephant, and the question "Zoologists spotted a troop of 11 giraffe, a congregation of 37 crocodiles, and a parade of 11 elephants?"  Again, you get a scroll wheel, with a wider range now... from 38 to 68.  Did you know that a group of crocodiles was called a congregation?  I didn't.  
  • Level 3 includes problems in addition, subtraction, multiplication and percents.  One problem here was, "There are 890 total animals where 70 percent are hyenas.  How many hyenas are there?"  If it isn't obvious, this problem includes a photo of a hyena as the background.
There are options to watch videos (after getting a number of answers correct), to read more information about the animals, to email results or post them to a blog.

What do we think of this app?  I love the photos, as do the kids.  Learning the names for groups of animals is a lot of fun.  No multiple choice, which is nice.  The downside is that my 1st grader really needs someone to be reading the problems to him, which usually isn't too big of a deal, and my 4th and 6th graders do get tired from the reading aspects and will work longer if they have someone reading to them. 

iLiveMath Animals of Asia was the next one we got.  This introduces a number of aspects of time into the problems, so it is a favorite of mine.  My kids all seem to struggle with time to some extent.
  • Level 1: addition and subtraction, including weeks, hours, minutes.  The first problem I got here today is, "A Chinese zoo feeds spoonbills at 11:00 AM and it takes them 2 hours to feed.  What time did they finish?"
  • Level 2:  addition, subtraction, multiplication and hours per week and kg per week.  "A panda eats 26 pounds of bamboo shoots a day.  How many pounds/week is required by a panda?"
  • Level 3:  addition, subtraction, multiplication and concepts involving the Chinese Zodiac years.  I will find a zodiac question, because that idea concerned me.  "Two cooperative people are born in 1939, Year of the Rabbit, and 1995, Year of the Boar.  What is their age difference?"  Another question at this level is, "A mother panda nurses her cub 6 times a day for 31 minutes.  How many minutes per week does she nurse?"
What do we think of this app?  Love it.  I love getting my kids working with time word problems, and after studying China a couple of years ago, they like seeing some of the Chinese Zodiac problems.  Richard, appropriately enough, was born in the Year of the Monkey.  Anyway, they like being able to comment on who in our family was born in the Year of the Whatever... so those problems are ones they look forward to.  The photo included is of one of the videos the kids can watch as a reward for getting answers correct.

iLiveMath Winter Sports was the third app we got.  I have to say I wasn't exactly excited about this one.  We don't ski or snowboard or whatever, and we don't watch much television, so they don't see all these winter sports.  I doubted they would find this appealing.
  • Level 1:  addition and subtraction.  The first problem I got just now is, "Out of 14 snowboarding kids 4 were experts, how many are learning?"  The picture is beautiful -- a distance shot of a bunch of people on the slopes.
  • Level 2: addition, subtraction and multiplication.  "If each ice hockey team has 19 members.  How many total members are there in 11 teams?"  Another beautiful photo as the background, but it has nothing to do with hockey.
  • Level 3:  addition, subtraction, multiplication and average.  "Two judges give a figure skater style points of 48 and 62.  What is the average?" 
What do we think of this app?  Well, it is our least favorite.  As shown in the first problems I quoted above (I did not go searching for examples!), the grammar isn't stellar.  The photos are beautiful, but not as closely tied to the questions as they are in both animals apps.  But... well, I love the work on averages in Level 3, and I especially love that Level 3 also asks questions like one involving freestyle ski judges giving 14, 14 and 17 points, only that question asked for the total points.  So the kids do need to READ the questions, or they are going to be calculating an average when asked for a total.  Of course, the best part is that this app is only $.99, so it can be a good way to try them out and see what you think.

The photo included here shows the answer wheel.  Love that feature, did I mention that?

I also own three other apps -- Speed, Trains and Farm Fresh.  I'll talk about those in another post, maybe next weekend.  For a teaser... the above were iHomeEducator's first three iLiveMath apps, and I have to say that the apps are getting better and better and BETTER as they go... 

Disclosure:  I obtained these apps on my own, not as part of any review program.  This review is being done solely because I want to.  As with all my reviews, all opinions are either mine or my families, unless stated otherwise.


Deb said...

That is truly amazing. It's almost like the phone is secondary to all the other incredible things it will do. I need to upgrade my phone, and the iphone tempts me very much.

Heidi said...

I won one of these from Tristan's blog several weeks ago. I need to check it out a bit better.

Oh, Ian was born in the Year of the Dog and Gracie was born in the Year of the Dragon (these are the Vietnamese zodiac, but I believe it is very similar to the Chinese one). We are planning to re-do Gracie's room soon - she's ready for a more mature theme - and chose dragons! :)

Cristi said...

I usually only hand over my iPod if we're stuck in a lot of appointments. Guess what I'm downloading before our next round of doctor's visits? Thanks for the recommendations.