Like most kids these days, mine really enjoy being on the computer or iPad as often as I will let them. We all enjoy playing video games. When we got the opportunity to review Maths Invaders Online and Typing Tournament Online from EdAlive, I was hopeful that my kids would enjoy practicing skills in a fun video game format.
About Maths Invaders Online
Maths Invaders is fun way to practice basic math facts using a fast-paced, space-invaders type format. Starting with basic math skills, it is designed for ages 5 and up. The student or teacher selects a starting skill level, and works through the game systematically. Each zone focuses on a different set of facts or skills and incrementally gets more challenging. You can customize your speed and the facts being practiced to fit your child which makes it a very flexible program to use for multiple children with different needs.
In order to play the Galactic Campaign, which take the student through incrementally more difficult problems, the student will use the arrow keys, number keys, and spacebar to maneuver their ship, type in the answer and fire that answer at the corresponding fact. You can also choose how fast-paced the levels are.
My eleven year old still relies quite often on using a number line or his fingers when completing addition and subtraction problems, even though he has moved on to study multiplication and decision. Prior to receiving this program, I had been using written speed drills with him to help him memorize and recall basic math facts. It was helping, but progress was slow. With Maths Invaders, I saw a drastic amount of improvement in a short period of time. He was taking less time completing math assignments that included addition and subtraction review and wasn’t relying as heavily on his number line.
As I mentioned, the skill and difficulty level is highly customizable. Below I have shared a couple of screenshots on one way you can pick and choose directly from the students screen exactly what to practice. As you can see, more than just basic addition/subtraction, multiplication/division facts are included.
We are still doing timed written drills, but have reduced these from a daily to a weekly just to help track his progress. It’s so important for kids to have a solid mental recall of addition facts, especially when learning multiplication. There are reports accessible from both the student and teacher screens so that you can easily see what your student is practicing. You also have the option of printing worksheets to help in areas they may be struggling. I have found that completeing a worksheet before going through that stage of the game helps tremendously.
There is also a Space Rescue game that is a bit like Battleship, that you can play versus the computer or other players online. The program is quite comprehensive!
About Typing Tournament Online
Typing Tournament includes instruction, practice, and typing speed and accuracy drills in a fun, interactive format. There is a mideviel theme to this program, like you are training to become a knight. I remember taking keyboarding classes in middle school, and I wish we had a fun program like this back then. I have not yet used this with my children, but in order to give a solid review I have gone through several lessons myself.
Before starting the lessons, the student takes a speed test to measure where they are before beginning the lessons. They (or you) can then choose what typing speed they want to achieve. This can be adjusted at any time from the main screen.
Each lesson starts out with a set of keys to learn and practice exercises to help with muscle memory. To this day, I am still guilty of staring at the keyboard when I type, even though I can type about 35wpm with decent accuracy. I was surprised at how challenging I found it to break that habit and avoid looking at the keys!
The instruction and practice are long enough to help train those fingers to automatically KNOW what movements to make to type each character, without being so long they get boring or frustrating. For the timed tests and drills both, you can choose to do either one or three minute drills. For a child just beginning learning keyboarding, I highly recommend starting off with the one minute drills, as they can be a bit intense and nerve wracking, even for a practiced typist. That being said, I remember that same feeling from middle school classes. Once your student completes a lesson and the drills, they are ready to take the test. Upon passing the test, the student can then advance to the next level. You can even print a certificate for them to display.
In addition to the lessons, drills, and test, there are fun activities that are essentially games to practice and reinforce that muscle memory your student is working on. Siege and Powder Keg are more laid back games, with Dragon Chase being a bit more intense as you have to type with enough speed and accuracy to “outrun” the dragon chasing you.
I used Maths Invaders with my 11 year old 3-4 days a week for at least 10 minutes a day and I saw a noticeable improvement. There were times where he would get a bit panicky due to the exercises being timed, but I encouraged him not to focus as much on the time and to concentrate instead on getting as many correct answers as he could until time ran out. We will continue using Maths Invaders alongside our math curriculum and written drills to help him practice and recall what he is learning. We do plan on using Typing Tournament as well throughout the summer for both boys, when our course load is a bit lighter. I may even continue using it myself!
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