Count Your Way Through MathGirl Number Garden for the iPhone

Geek Culture

Image: MathGirl Games

Education on-the-go is always handy. Keeping your kids busy with an app while you’re doing something important seems to be a pretty common tactic among iPhone/iPod Touch users. My kids usually prefer logic games, which are also my favorite, but they also play with apps like Slide-a-ma-jig and Fluid. I also heavily encourage my kids to play apps that teach math, Spanish, history, vocabulary and other subjects.

Some math apps are fun, some are less than fun, but most of them don’t have a goal other than answering another question or getting a higher score. A new math app is out that is different. It doesn’t help you learn to add, multiply or put numbers in order. It helps you learn to count. Quickly. It is harder and infinitely more useful than it sounds.

MathGirl Number Garden contains several levels that help you identify a number by looking at a pattern of that number, made out of flowers or raised fingers on a hand. It’s great for practicing recognizing numbers by sight rather than by counting. When you play, you can choose a level, from Counting Numbers 1-5 to “Ultimate 50.” You need to play each level before the next higher level is unlocked. Game play gets harder as you go, but the hardest levels are the ones with the most answers from which to choose. Some levels give you five possible answers, others give you ten. I haven’t gotten all the way up to Ultimate 50 yet, so there may be even more options as you go. You also can play any level that you’ve already played, whenever you like. You just have to play the highest unlocked level to unlock the level above that. The more you play, the better you get, since you learn what to look for on each level and what number groupings the game uses.

Image: MathGirl Games

Made by the same people who made Arithmaroo, MathGirl Number Garden has a different theme with plenty of flowers and garden elements. Two helpful and fun features that it has over Arithmaroo is the ability to choose any previously unlocked level at any time, and a new special activity. Other than the obvious math lessons, this added activity is the point of the game. When you play the game, you earn stars. The faster you answer each problem, the more stars you earn. After each round, you can play more rounds, or go straight to your garden. What garden, you ask?

You get to decorate your own Counting Garden. With all the stars you earn by completing levels, you can buy plants and other things for your garden. Available to buy are flowers, insects, a snail, animals, toys, rainbows and other items including a treehouse. The more you play, the more stars you’ll have to spend populating your garden. Also, more items for your garden are unlocked as you complete more game levels. You can arrange your garden any way you like. You can also sell back your garden items for half of the purchase price.

When in your garden, if you hold your device in landscape mode, you can scroll left and right. This will show where Multiplication Store and Addition House will be once future MathGirl apps come out. All of these apps will be connected, so if you use the same name in each app, you can build your own MathGirl Town. It isn’t clear from the website when the other apps will be out, though.

Image: MathGirl Games

This game is great for multiple kids because there are four possible logins. It is also actually great for grownups as a mental exercise to recognize number patterns faster. While this is designed for girls, any boy who isn’t flower- and garden-averse will also love it.

MathGirl Number Garden is a really fun game for everyone, and quite useful. Counting groups of numbers is something that most people use in their daily lives. I only found a couple of problems with the app. The first is that the arrows you use to scroll through the garden elements are too small for regular sized hands. The arrows are so close to the Buy and Sell button that you might accidentally buy or sell something unintentionally (I’ve done this!). Another problem is that if you try to play the counting portion of the game in landscape mode, the screen doesn’t rotate properly. I wish it automatically locked in portrait mode.

MathGirl Games is currently holding a contest where you can win a $20 iTunes gift card. Visit their website for more information!

Image: MathGirl Games

MathGirl Number Garden is available in the iTunes store for $1.99. It is appropriate for any kid, but especially those age 4 and up. The Lite version is also available for free, but you’re only given the first four levels of play.

Wired: Fun game, lots of replayability because of the garden building and continued skill building. Cute graphics. Can be fun for boys (and grownups) who like gardens, too.

Tired: Arrows used to page through garden items are tiny. Auto-rotate during game play should be turned off.

Note: I received a free copy of this app for review purposes.

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