Picky Kid Rating: 2.5
In Dino Park Math, kids can help a young paleontologist open a new dinosaur exhibit by solving math problems. It’s a conceptual stretch, but it just might motivate elementary school aged dinophiles (is that a word?) to practice addition and subtraction. The math problems are too difficult for pre-K kids, but there are six simpler activities that younger kids can play, once they figure out how to get to them.
When you first start the app, wait! Because the screen goes black for a bit after the loading sequence. Eventually, you’ll come to a home screen where you’ll meet junior paleontologist Pete. He gives a brief verbal intro about what to do and encourages you to tap “Start Adventure”. Before we do though, let’s see what else we can do from the home screen… There are three large rocks with the words START ADVENTURE, DINOSAUR GAMES, and DINOSAUR FACTS, and two smaller rocks reading MATH TABLE and MORE APPS. Unfortunately, the More Apps area is not protected — kids can easily enter the App store by tapping into this area.
The Math Table is an addition table showing all possible sums for numbers from 0 to 10. To get sums, you must tap the arrows pointing to the numbers on the top and left, and bars will appear that intersect at the sum. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to drag the bars around to move them! This would be a nice feature to add (plus, it would help kids understand that there are lots of different ways to get the same result when doing addition).
OK, on to the fun stuff (because it would be a stretch to put Math Tables in that category)… First, you should know that to get back to the home screen, you can (usually) click the Dino Park sign. It’s normally in the bottom right of the screen, but on the Math Table page, it happens to be exactly opposite that, in the top left.
Assuming you’re on the home screen, and you can read, tap the rock marked Start Adventure to get to the Dino Park, where fifteen fossils are sitting along pathways, just waiting to be cleaned up by you and your friend Pete. Tap one, and you’ll be presented with an addition or subtraction problem that you must solve to chip away some of the rock and reveal the fossil. The problems involve numbers up to 20, and there are no quantity clues given that would help a younger child count it up. But the answers are multiple choice, and it doesn’t take too long to get the right answer by trying all three. You’ll get a gentle “try again” message for tapping the wrong answer, and correct answers are rewarded with some hammering on the fossil. Plus, Pete will say something nice, like “Sensational!” As you finish unearthing the fossils, they’ll appear in the park exhibits.
If your three-year-old is getting tired of answering math problems wrong, you can get back to the home screen by tapping the Dino Park sign. Tap Dinosaur Facts to hear (and read) facts about fifteen different dinosaurs. Tap Dinosaur Games to get to five other dinosaur-related activities, including:
Puzzles: Drag and drop dinosaur bones into their correct places on a fossil. It takes a keen eye, because some bones look a lot alike! It helps that the pieces are already scaled and rotated correctly.
Create a Scene: Move dinosaurs around in scenes from the Jurassic or Cretaceous. We expected the dinosaurs to rotate and scale with two-fingered actions, but they don’t.
Matching: Drag and drop a dinosaur onto the correct outline (similar to a “peg puzzle”).
Memory Match: The classic card-flipping memory game with 14 cards.
Connect the Dots: Tap the dots in order to complete the picture.
To access the games menu from the activities, you can tap the Games Menu sign in the lower right, though some activities have an extra level of navigation, in which case you must first tap the arrow icon in the upper right. This icon is confusing, it looks more like a “reset” button than a “back” button.
The voiceovers in this app (American English only) are pretty good — they’re friendly sounding without being overly affected… and there are a lot of them. Try tapping various things in the game; most likely you’ll hear a narrated response. There is some very subtle background music on the home screen that fades as soon as you start playing. There are no options to turn sound on or off, but it’s really not necessary.
The illustration and design is so-so. The Pete character is cartoony and cute, and seems incongruous with somewhat realistic-looking textures in the fossils. Many of the graphics have pixelated edges or feel like they’ve be over-enlarged a bit (on non-retina display, even). The design of the math problem screens is overly complex (it includes Pete, a fossil, a pterodactyl silhouette, some savannah trees, grass, eggs with numbers on them, and some weird “rips” out of the sky to make a hole that reveals the math problem), which makes it difficult to know what to do at first glance. Throughout the game, there are at least three or four different fonts used and it’s kind of an odd mix. Animations are minimal.
Dinosaur Park Math has a few bright spots — if your kid loves dinosaurs, there are a wide range of activities that could keep them busy for a while. We also like the fact that every time a number is tapped, it’s reinforced with a voiceover. But it is not intuitive to use and depends too much on reading for navigation. Bottom line? Meh.
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid Review.]Review: Dino Park Math iPad App,
Dino Park Math
Played on: iPad 2, iOS6
- Millenium Multimedia