Posts Tagged ‘elementary math games’

SmartyCard Part2: I Like SmartyCard! Really, I Do…

SmartyCard Part2 If you read SmartyCard Part1, you know I like SmartyCard.

There are some things that could be better from a parent’s perspective, such as granular control of the reward catalog (so I can specify what is displayed). So, as to prevent my child purchasing something I find objectionable.

That said, I really like the SmartyCard concept… however, there was something about it that left me with that off balance, giving me that “roller-coaster speeding down hill” feeling. It took me a while to “plumb the depths of my own neuroses” to uncover the answer, but uncover it I did. I was rather surprised at the root cause of my discomfort. It was taint, that is to say, corruption by association.

I had let my growing disdain for Scholastic Books give me a uneasiness with SmartyCard, along with a bit of uncertainty about Gazillion (SmartyCard’s parent company) thown in for good measure.

SmartyCard had partnered with Scholastic Books in its “Summer Reading Challenge” to prevent summer slide. This was intended to be a “branding boost” for SmartyCard, but for me it had the opposite effect… I don’t like the turn toward the “commercial” that Scholastic Books has taken. They’re taking advantage of their reputation as a purveyor of educational books (with carte blanche access to classrooms), to expose our children to an increasing stream of toys and media tie-in products.

Beyond the schlock, this is where the angst starts for me… The SmartyCard – Scholastic partnership has the ability to kick open the door to Sponge Bob, Hanna Montana, and the like, “teaching” in our classrooms and computer labs. Some might think I’ve become unhinged, but I’m not the only parent that has a growing dissatisfaction with Scholastic… read these articles (“Teachers snub Scholastic toys“, “Scholastic misusing its book clubs?“, and “Does Scholastic Deserve a Failing Grade?“) a mere smattering of the total number.

To SmartyCard, “Don’t get tarred with a brush meant for someone else!”

The crew at SmartyCard is sharp, so I hope this “faux pas” was something attributable to the first steps of a new company, and is something that won’t be repeated.

My trepidation with Gazillion stems from what Gazillion is: An MMO gaming company. Gazillion it to SmartyCard as Disney is to NBC News… I get that. It has proven to take a company like Gazillion Entertainment to make something like SmartyCard work.

I believe that if SmartyCard is left alone, everything should be fine, but if Gazillion decides to leverage some of its deals (such as its 10 year deal with Marvel Entertainment, read Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, and Captain America) I hear the sound of that classroom door being kicked open once again.

SmartyCard Part1: Learn and Earn Educational Games

SmartyCardHomeSince SmartyCard offers a math curriculum for tweens and uses fun games and quizzes to present the material, I thought I’d see what it’s all about. However, in the midst of my research I realized that I had a bit too much for a single post so here’s Part1.

What Is SmartyCard?
SmartyCard is a prepaid web-based educational service that provides a “learn and earn” play experience aimed at “tweens” (3rd to 6th graders). The points children accumulate, by answering seven-out-of-ten activity questions correctly, can be redeemed for real and virtual rewards – such as DVDs, music from iTunes, books, toys, and access to popular virtual worlds like Club Penguin.

The SmartyCard website is well-crafted, colorful, and easy to navigate. The characters used on are friendly and engaging, but avoid the taint of Barney and Elmo. presents educational content that addresses reading, writing, math, social studies, cultural studies, technology and science. This content was developed in partnership with e-learning leaders, Ignite Learning, and LearnStar.

Thus far, ten virtual worlds that have partnered with SmartyCard: Bella Sara, Cartoon Doll Emporium, Club Penguin, Elf Island, Planet Cazmo, Stardoll, ZooKazoo, Zwinky Cuties, Neopets, and Webkinz, though the last two are only selling physical merchandise as rewards. Other SmartyCard partners include the likes of Kajeet, Nickelodeon, and Scholastic.

Is It Safe For Kids? Read the rest of this entry »

DreamBox Learning K-2 Math

This post is more personal than analytical to me, in that, this is the first time I’ve written about my daughter, who is 1st grader this year.

I had already written an article about DreamBox Learning K-2 Math and had done quite a bit of research in an effort to compare and contrast subscription educational websites that claim to have fun math games. I was quite impressed by DreamBox Learning, so I asked my wife to take a look at the website. I had a pretty good feel for how she would react, but had no idea as to which points would resonate with her. Read the rest of this entry »

Fun Math for Kids: Is There Such A Thing as Fun Math For Kids?

mean school marm

A million years ago, when I was in elementary school, math was one of those desiccated subjects, taught by a teacher who slipped into stultifying monotone, which sucked the energy from your very being. The whole environment inspired fear and loathing in much of the class. So, you were either left to find your own path to mathematical enlightenment or you enlisted outside assistance. This was a very sad situation, which didn’t have to be… not then and not now.

Today media are much more varied than they were in my Jurassic childhood and they address all manner of math concepts. There is children’s literature that speaks to math, such as Greg Tang’s “Math-terpieces” and “Math Fables”. There are myriad manipulatives, e-books (such as “Making Math More Fun” and “Vedic Maths”), board games, video games and websites too numerous to mention.

Creating an educational environment that fosters the development of Strategic thinking in children is critical. This form of problem solving requires attention to detail, the capacity to observe, collect disparate pieces of information, analyze that information, formulate and analyze possible solutions and take appropriate actions.

It is important that math is presented as an everyday activity, which is an element of Strategic thinking. This everyday activity is at the very least, useful, but can be fun, elegant, and inspiring. Learning to use math does not require your child to be a genius or be endowed with special powers (and they must know this).

As parents and instructors it’s our job to ensure that our children have the tools necessary to be successful in school and in life. We have to make sure that our children’s curiosity is not soured or destroyed by the local math Nazi. Most of all we must let them know that math can indeed be fun and interesting.

…Yes there is such a thing as “Dad’s Fun Math Games”!

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