Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday Tool School: iPad Apps for Kids- VersaMate by Hand2Mind

Thursday Tool School is back this week with a super exciting 6-week series highlighting iPad apps for kids. While I understand that many classrooms are not outfitted with a set of iPads, these apps make great intervention, tutoring, and summer practice tools for all students, inside or outside of the classroom setting.

During my research on the best math apps for kids, I discovered that while many apps are initially free, in order to progress through the various levels, you generally have to buy something in order to take full advantage of the app's features. While my goal here is to focus on free apps for kids, I will provide a disclaimer if the featured app falls into this category. 

This week's app is one of my personal favorites. I've used it endlessly with the students with whom I tutor. They love the opportunity to use the iPad during our sessions and it's a great way to infuse practice with essential fraction concepts and provides a brain break from our intensive work. 

Screenshot from "Identify Fractions"

Title: VersaMate Fractions

Description: The VersaMate app is created by the creators of VersaTiles, a series of self-checking activities reinforcing a variety of grade level content and skills. At the the time of this post, only two packs are available, the sampler freebie pack and the fractions pack. Each activity is similar to the one above. Students are presented with a solution, in this case a fraction, and are asked to choose the matching response from four choices. As a game, students match solutions and responses and uncover squares trying to collect more squares than his/ her opponent, the computer or another player. 

Advantages: This app is very engaging and students enjoy the colorful and interactive interface. In the fractions pack, there are a  variety of skills (games) from which to choose that not only provide variety but endless opportunities to reinforce grade level content and skills. As with many other games, players are provided with opportunities to play in bonus rounds when certain actions are taken or point levels obtained. Additionally, when students answer questions incorrectly, a tutorial provides support to help students understand their mistakes and redirects their path to one of success. 

Game in Action!
Disadvantages: The problems presented are mostly procedural in nature making the app very linear without much depth or complexity. In addition, the tutorials students receive when they answer incorrectly illustrate traditional methods for finding solutions to fraction algorithms with no accompanying written explanations. For example, the picture below shows a tutorial for understanding how to name a fractional part with a number line. If students are unable to name the fractional part comparing the shaded parts to the unshaded parts, they are not likely to be able to understand the connection to the number line. Note: While this is true of this game, the other tutorials seem to be more informative. 
Tutorial for an Incorrect Answer
One final note: At times, the computer opponent can seem quite aggressive and wins quickly preventing the human player from getting to fully engage in the game. Again, it does not happen all of the time, but my students have experienced this on occasion.   

Cost: Currently, the freebie sampler pack has two fraction activities. The full, 23-game Fraction pack is $4.99. 

Check out the app here!

1 comment:

  1. Great ideas for learning using iPad apps. I know the kids will love playing these games and not even realize that they're learning.