Lola’s Math Train
Category: Educational Game
Age Group: 3-7
Availability: Google Play, App Store, Mac App Store, Amazon.com, Samsung Apps, Windows Store
Price: Free version, or: $1.99 at Google Play, App Store, Amazon.com, Samsung Apps; $3.99 at Mac App Store, Nintendo eShop, Windows Store
How did the kids like it?
Lola Panda has an entire suite of educational games, so I downloaded all the free ones to see which apps the kids liked enough for me to download the full versions and review them. They were all great. Expect more reviews about Lola in the near future.
My preschooler immediately took to Math Train. I had a hard time wresting the tablet from his grasp in order to download the full version. In fact, Math Train was his final request before bed last night, and the promise of letting him play is what kept him in line this morning while we were getting Sister ready for school.
Keep in mind that some kids will enjoy certain games more than others. The child in question has a natural affinity for numbers and letters—I definitely can’t take any credit for the numbers part—which is why he liked Math Train, and ABC Train so much. My kindergartner liked Math Train, too, but preferred Lola’s Sudoku (Yes, kids Sudoku), I Spy, and Beach Puzzle. All of them are educational in their own way, so it’s a win-win.
That said, my daughter hung over his shoulder while he played the math and ABC games. And when it was her turn, the math and ABC games kept her attention–that’s 90% of the battle with this girl–for at least five minutes each before she turned to the other Lola Panda games. And that’s more than I can say my other education apps have accomplished.
What does it do?
Here’s the official trailer.
Basically, Lola has a train that she fills up with her friends and then drives around. In order to put a new friend on the train you have to solve a bunch of math games. The games vary from choosing the box with the most/ least shapes, selecting the character that is not a number, choosing the balloon with the lowest/ highest number in it, choosing the balloon with the correct number in it, putting together puzzles in the shape of numbers, popping balloons with the lowest/ greatest number in it. And that’s just the easy level. In the Hard setting it will also include patterns, sums, and differences and the like.
When they pass a certain number of tasks they get to choose the next friend to add to the train and drag them into the seat of choice before doing another round of tasks. When all the train seats are full of friends, the characters do a little victory lap.
Lola’s Math Train also keeps track of the child’s answers so that parents can go see what parts they struggle with or where they excel. Keep in mind that this might not be completely accurate. My son would purposely choose every option besides the correct answer when he found the questions too easy (not as much of a problem in the paid version, since it adjusts difficulty level according to the child’s answers, so he didn’t get as bored).
What I liked:
The game’s verbal instructions are clear enough that my preschooler can understand them, without me having to teach him how to play—when he’s patient enough to listen to them instead of just tapping random things.
I like the variety of math games that are available, and the level of engagement they have. My son played for about an hour as I happily took pictures and videos for this post…which I didn’t end up using.
If the child answers too many questions wrong or right, it automatically goes to a more fitting difficulty level. So even if the child selects the wrong difficulty level, the game will change the difficulty level before boredom or frustration ensues.
Free vs. Paid:
The first difference between the free version and the full version is the difficulty level. The free version only allows Easy, whereas the full version allows Medium and Hard as well. If your preschooler is pretty advanced (doing Kindergarten level work or above), the free version won’t even be a challenge, although it is probably a great starting place for most kids this age.
The free version has very frequent in app requests to upgrade to the full, paid version. Luckily, I’ve trained my kids how to push the red X to escape those screens, but it was still annoying.
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars—mainly because I have nothing to complain about, and my son liked it so much. It’s a great app that makes otherwise unproductive time spent playing games feel like time well spent.
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