Computer games to help develop maths fluency?
July 17, 2018 6:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations for computer games to help students develop fluency and speed in mental arithmetic while still being fun.

I'm working as a math tutor, and I find that my students tend not to have fluency in mental arithmetic: adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing (all the way from number bonds (what plus what makes 10) up to things like "23 x 42" or "580 divided by 29"). My sense is that this fluency is the foundation on which they will build later mathematical skills, and that what they need is to practice under time pressure.

When I was a child, my parents got me to play computer games that involved answering many math questions under time pressure. (I think this is much more sensible than having a tutor sit beside a child and time them doing questions.) I enjoyed Math Blaster: In Search Of Spot, and a couple of others whose names I can't remember. I've not been able to make Math Blaster work on my modern computer.

So what I'm looking for is:
a) does anyone have Math Blaster and know how to make it work on a modern computer and can advise?
b) does anyone have any other suggestions for relevant games that would work? They'd need to allow the student to compete against their *own* score (not other students') and not involve losing lives - some of my younger students don't enjoy that kind of negative feedback and competition, but would enjoy trying to beat their own score. Ideally the game(s) would be slightly more interesting than a one-screen game that involves shooting numbers (Math Blaster was a whole quest). And also I would prefer games that didn't involve a lot of physical maneuvring, as I don't want my students overly distracted from the math.

I'd be prepared to buy a good game, or ask students' parents to.

posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You may not find one game that covers that broad a range. For the basic addition and subtraction portion, take a look at "The Counting Kingdom". My daughter enjoyed it, and it's a very polished and well done game.
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:42 AM on July 17, 2018

You can play Math Blaster (and Math Blaster Plus) on the Internet Archive.
posted by mustardayonnaise at 8:10 AM on July 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Here is In Search of Spot as well.
posted by mustardayonnaise at 8:12 AM on July 17, 2018

Our school uses Reflex Math. The kids like it, as it has feedback (earn points to open new games, etc.). It is dynamic: reduces repeats of known facts. It also cites research. At $35/year, more than most apps but pretty trivial in the context of tutoring costs. I think it's limited to basic operations up to 12x12, so I don't think it would work for the more advanced computations you asked about.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:23 AM on July 17, 2018

High Tea is quite fun and requires constant mental math to ensure that you're buying and selling at a net profit.
posted by XMLicious at 10:42 AM on July 17, 2018

Operation: Neptune might fit the bill if free in-browser games will work for you. There is a 'life' mechanic in that wrong answers (or colliding with enemies) will lower your O2 levels, but there's a friendly re-up/free-life mechanic in the form of Zoom The Dolphin and it's not overly-punitive to players.
posted by halation at 12:15 PM on July 17, 2018

My 7-year-old loves Prodigy, an in-browser RPG using math as its battle component.
posted by hanov3r at 12:36 PM on July 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

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