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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Giddy Up Cowboy!


A-man has wanted to be a cowboy for years.


He used to ask me if I could set up cowboy lessons for him with his Uncle R, Karen's husband.  Uncle R used to own horses, and wears a cowboy-ish type hat.  He certainly walks with a cowboy swagger that even A-man can appreciate and emulate.  Sadly, we moved before I could pressure Uncle R for those lessons.

Auntie Kelly made these pants for one of A-man's cousins a few years ago and when they outgrew them...he inherited them.  They have cowboy hats, horseshoes, lassos and sheriff's badges all over them.  He doesn't like to take them off.  Seriously....he wears them all the time...until I need to do laundry.

He got little toy pistols and holsters for Christmas.  I got them from an outlet/dollar store where they cost a total of $2.00.  He loved them and wore them around everywhere, until their little outlet/dollar store-ish plastic triggers finally gave out.

My little cowboy wanna be, A-man, is in first grade.  School, to him, is just something to get through and finish so he can get on with his real day and every adventure it may hold.

That long cowboy description of A-man is to help introduce you to a new product we got to review at our homeschool.

The kids, in general, are not always as excited as I am when we get a product to review.

However, this one was different.

There was excitement.  Children were reminding their motherthat they hadn't done "all" of their school yet.

This one was a game. 

A fun one. 

With horses. 

And maps. 

And "quests". 

What was a boy to do? Just get through with school so he could get on to the rest of his day? Whine? Complain? 


He saddled up and rode off into the sunset with a math facts game, called

In the game, you ride on horseback (although the rider looks more like a British stable boy...not an American cowboy) on various quests doing math along the way.   Along the way in the game, you learn your math facts from 0-12 for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

You first learn what your "quest" will be....everything from saving your sick mother, to saving a princess or even an entire elven kingdom.  You, as the Math Rider, have a larger purpose in completing your quest than just doing a bunch of math as fast as you can.  Your little horse rides along the bottom of the screen.....

There are little hurdle things that your horse must jump over.  Each has a math problem....I guess I shouldn't call it a problem, should I?  Each hurdle has a math fact, like 7 + 5....then you have to type in the answer....12.  Your horse jumps and you continue on your quest.  Each portion of the journey has a set amount of can set it to a different amount....but we had ours at 30.

Fun?  Definitely.  But, how do you know that your child is actually accomplishing anything besides just adding more screen time to their day?

This information will make you data and statistic loving parents happy.  At the end of each section, there is a screen that comes up that will show you how long it took for your child to answer each individual problem, which ones they got wrong, their average speed. The game even helps visualize the ones that they got wrong (like showing 3 red dots and 8 blue dots to equal 11). 

Here is an example of a different statistic screen that shows the "top challenges" and "Mastery Level".  The squares in orange and red are the facts that your child needs to work on.

This game, to me, a regular lay person, is pretty amazing.  Why?

The kids have fun, but that isn't why I am impressed.  The horse is controlled by how quickly and accurately your child gives the answers.  It even observes and considers typing speed.  So, it notices the kinds of questions your child is having problems with and sends them more frequently....if your child is just a slow typer....the horses running and the problems that show up slow down to compensate for that. 

If they get 8 + 3 wrong....the game will show them the correct answer.  While it is being shown, a child's voice states, " 8 + 3 equals 11".  Then, your quest will continue and a few more hurdles later....that problem will show back up again, so they still remember it from when they got it wrong.

This game was created by a Dad looking to find a way to help his daughters, who didn't do well in math....nor did they particularly like math.  As he says, "There comes a point when finger counting needs to stop."  The only thing that will do that is getting these math facts in your head. 

I will admit that some of my math facts have escaped through the years.  Even though, Mrs. Toll, in the 4th grade, kept going over and over those flash cards of the multiplication tables!  I do have to slow down and think....hmmm....okay, what is 8 x 7?  Sometimes, it will take more than slowing down....I will actually go use my right now, for right back.....

Okay, yup, 8 x 7 is 56. 

One of the reasons that I am probably so impressed with Rainman is that he seems to have retained all his math facts.  It really is a very handy skill of his.  I would like my children to be able to pull these numbers from their Stetsons quickly and correctly too, if for no other reason than to impress their future spouses!

Math Rider is a downloaded game, not a CD.  Which, for our house, is good.  CD's have a tendency to get lost or scratched around here.  So, it can be downloaded immediately to your computer....and you get updates as they happen.

It also is not a subscription, but has a one time cost of $37.  (They are planning to raise the price to $47 starting on February 15th though)

I can honestly say that this math facts game has been a hit at our house. Rainman, who usually steers away from the computer learning types of activities we do, was impressed with this one too because it was different for each child and adapted to them and their strengths and, as Math Rider calls it "challenges".

I even sat down and rode a few quests was sort of addicting...and I am not a video game person.  It did give me a sense of accomplishment to try to beat my best times in answering the questions correctly.  I am still only working on my addition and subtraction facts though....I am working my way up to the multiplication and division quests.....I want to make Mrs. Toll proud!

Don't just take my word for it....go check them out and sign up for a free 7 day trial and see for yourself how easy it is to master those pesky, yet ever so useful,  math facts.

Take a look and see what other TOS reviewers thought of Math Rider.

We received a free download of the math facts game, Math Rider, in exchange for an honest review.