Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Funexpected Math App Review

 With my wide age gaps, we've been doing early education activities for about 12 years now. In that time I have always sought out recommendations for great educational apps that my kids actually like using. We tried many and really liked several. When I was given the opportunity for a free trial of a new one, Funexpected, I jumped at it!

Now, while I was given the free trial of Funexpected, I was not asked to write a review. I just liked it so much, I felt compelled to write one. Therefore, my opinions here are entirely my own.

The app is geared towards kids ages 3-7. We have been using it with my 4 year old for a couple of weeks now. He can be pretty picky about games and apps (there's another pretty prominent math app that he does not care for at all), but he took to this one right away. In fact, I had it open trying to take some pictures for this post and he came up and stole the iPad from me so he could play. He loves world geography, so it helps that the main menu area is a globe and he goes to various "countries" to play the different games.

First and foremost, what struck me about Funexpected is the variety of both skills and games. Even some of our favorite math games seem to focus on one type of skill, whereas Funexpected tackles math and number sense with a variety of games broken into the following categories:

 Number Sense, Geometry, Algorithms and Logic

Each category has multiple games, so even in a couple of weeks of play, it still feels fresh to him. Because I tend to decide purchases based on examples, I have included pictures of several of the games. I like that a lot of the skills are more abstract than straight counting, adding, etc. to give him a more rounded math experience.

He really likes this flower geometry game that involves stacking shapes in the correct order and orientation to match the picture.
This game has him selecting grids of snowballs to reach a target number, teaching him multiplication without him knowing that is what he's doing.

While my 4 year old doesn't love this game, probably because the iPad is a touch heavy for him, my older son and I think it is neat. On the left is a 2D shape and the right has an augmented reality 3D shape. You have to "walk around" the 3D shape manipulating your device until the pictures match. What a great game for visual spatial skills! Maybe someday they will let you choose whether to use the augmented reality or manipulate it on the screen.
This is the algorithm game he likes the best. You have a little ninja that you have to code to get to the cat. The levels get harder, adding in tasks or obstacles.
This is a little balancing game, where you have to get both sides of the iceberg to equal one another. It started with even numbers, but then progressed to odd numbers where you have to put one bird in a nest.

The parents portal has information broken down into the various categories. You can see how many questions they have tried, how fast they are and what their level is. Because the app is adaptive, it adjusts the difficulty level as the child plays and can be different for the different categories.
The results can also be broken down even more specifically to each module.

In addition to the math, Funexpected has also included bonus content, like a special event for Hanami, the Japanese holiday of cherry blossom viewing. My son got to learn about sakura trees and locations in Japan. He enjoyed it enough to want to do it again even after he had completed the challenge.

One downside is that like with any game, it cannot control what the child chooses to do, so not every skill will be targeted equally. My son tends to gravitate towards the games that are easier for him and not play the more challenging games as often. He spends the most time than I think he should on counting games, which is where he needs the least amount of enrichment. None of this is the app's fault. In fact, some of the modules that show up when he first signs on seem to encourage him to work on a variety of games.

Funexpected is a subscription rather than a onetime purchase and seems to be $35 for 6 months. While I prefer the one and done purchases, I will say, I feel this is a good price compared to some of the other math subscriptions we have tried. It also feels more "worth it" because they seem to keep updating and adding new content, which you would not get with a one time purchase. As of right now, I plan to renew. I am, however, curious to see how quickly he progresses through the levels. Since it says it is geared towards ages 3-7 and he's doing 1st grade level math workbooks, I'm not sure if and when he will max it out. On the other hand, since a lot of the skills are more abstract, it may last a lot longer than an app focusing on adding and subtracting. I will definitely renew when baby girl is old enough to use it.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Homophone Matching Activity

Because my 4 year old is such a great reader, it is something hard to find age appropriate language arts activities for him. Here is a hands on ELA activity I made to talk about homophones. While it was pretty easy, it was a great way to introduce the idea and keep building his vocabulary.
We started off by reading Dear Deer and How Much can a Bare Bear Bear? (We're big fans of the Brian Cleary books. We have several and there are tons on the Kindle Unlimited app). Archer was intrigued and wanted to talk about the words a lot.
Then we did this quick little matching activity. To make them more durable, you could easily laminate the little pictures and print the template on cardstock.
Elementary Language Arts

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