Jam and slam! This week on the blog we review a fun, portable game that helps kids practice their math facts—Math Slam! And better yet, we’re giving one away FREE! (See below for details.) Math Slam was created by Educational Insights, the sponsor of next week’s first-ever Teachers Tournament on Jeopardy!® (watch the show starting Monday, May 2). Keep reading to see how it shakes out in my 3F’s of toy quality—form, function and fun!
According to the packaging, Math Slam is the “slammin’ new way to practice math facts,” and I couldn’t agree more. This is definitely a high quality product. It’s sturdy and well-made, full of color and flashing lights, and the perfect size to sit on a child’s lap. (I actually played with it on my desk, which worked just as well.) As with most electronic games, batteries are not included, so make sure you have three C batteries on hand.
A simple power on/off button is clearly marked, and a volume setting with a headphone jack is on the side. There are lots of great sound effects and background music while you’re playing, so I think parents will be particularly thankful for the headphone jack if Math Slam goes along for a road trip.
Five buttons at the top allow you to select from the different games. It’s all very intuitive and there’s a voice that gives you instruction before game play begins. There is a large, clear LCD screen that displays the questions, and four large paddles that display the possible answers.
Here are some sketches by the Riley Wilkinson, the Creative Director at Educational Insights, showing the development of the concept!
Math Slam is engaging, entertaining, and infinitely more fun than the flash cards I remember using to develop these skills. The physical action of “slamming” the paddle with the correct answer is reminiscent of toys like Bop-It. It challenges your hand-eye coordination and reaction time in the same way, but you’re practicing math while you’re at it. It’s very satisfying to hear the “Beep!” when you get it right, and appropriately frustrating when you hear the “Bong!” for getting it wrong.
The five possible games in Math Slam are called Slam it Up, Sum Slam, Subtraction Slam, Mystery Number, and Triple Slam. Slam It Up asks you to order the numbers that appear on each of the four paddles from lowest to highest. It was definitely a challenge to glance at all four and immediately begin sorting—reaction time was a factor. Sum Slam and Subtraction Slam are straightforward addition and subtraction equations, but Mystery Number is algebraic. In that game mode, the questions are in this format: 8 + ? = 11. While it’s simple enough that kids will be able to answer, just substitute that question mark for an “X” and you’ve got yourself a little algebra! The final game is Triple Slam, which I found the most challenging. That format was 3 + 7 - 2 = ? and it’s amazing how adding that one extra step can impact your reaction time.
Math Slam is appropriate for the kindergarten level and up. (Typically kids are introduced to multiplication and division in the third grade, so they may have mastered the Math Slam skills by that time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve outgrown the toy.) There are ten questions in each round, and if you miss one, it comes back later until you get it right. This ensures that you’re getting comprehensive comprehension and mastery of the skills.
When it comes to function, Math Slam hits the bull’s eye. After playing for just a few minutes I felt like I had been challenged and had relearned those tricky equations that involve 6’s and 7’s (the numbers my brain has never really liked to calculate).
Math Slam gets full points in this category as far as I’m concerned. It’s very entertaining and it won’t get old, thanks to the four levels of increasing difficulty, and the fact that it records your time for each round and challenges you to beat it in the next one. This would be a really great way to take a break from homework and have fun without losing focus. It’s a slammin’ good time!
Thanks for reading, and don’t miss your chance to win the free Math Slam giveaway below!
Thanks to Educational Insights, we have a FREE Math Slam to give away this week! Leave a comment on this post with your first name, your email address (so we can contact you if you’re the lucky winner), and the name of your most memorable math teacher. Entries will be accepted now through Wednesday, May 4. A random winner will be selected and announced Thursday, May 5. Thanks for playing along!
Giveaway not available in stores. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO WIN. A $39.99 value.