Today we used an app called ‘The Mathelona games,’ to help with our problem solving skills. The app was made by the excellent Paul Godding the brains behind the superb 7 puzzle blog. The blog itself is full of interesting, challenging and engaging maths puzzles to keep you entertained for hours on end!
The app is described as: “The MATHELONA Games contains some basic arithmetic mixed with a Sudoku-type challenge, where only certain numbers can be used to complete the task. Lots of strategic thinking is therefore required.”
Not only that but teamwork, perseverance, the ability to check your work carefully are also skills developed from using the app.
Here is a screenshot of the app:
The aim is to try and use the digits 0-9 no more than twice to make the combinations. The screenshot is of bronze level and once completed go to 4 lines for silver and 5 for gold. The maths skills are looking at all the different combinations and making sure children are confident with their number bonds and arithmetic.
The fact the children worked in partners meant that they were also working on their teamwork skills and were able to help each other if they couldn’t see the combinations straight away.
It also brought up some key misconceptions that I had to address, such as: the amount of children that tried a number sentence like 5 / 0 = 5, forgetting that if you divide by zero it always equals zero. Or trying to do a division or subtraction number sentence but putting the smallest number first. These were all things I could explain to the children and put right.
The challenge aspect of the game was what brought the excitement from the children, the fact that by the silver challenge they were against the clock. It also gave them instant feedback if they had failed which meant they were checking their work straight away. They had to carefully check their answers instantly, something they may not always get chance to do with work in books. They also put their own perseverance to the test. Some were quite defeatist, asking for help but I tried to stay away and only point them the number they may have overused. This approach started to build more independence in the children.
The biggest plus for this app was the level of discussion the app sparked, it was incredible, children interacting putting forward ideas, ‘if we did this, could we do this?’ ‘we wouldn’t be able to use that there because of…’ superb talk was generated and I was impressed with the children’s attitude towards the challenge.
The app was a fantastic problem solving challenge and one that demanded the full concentration of the children. I would thoroughly recommend this app to use as a problem solving activity.