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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mad Dog Math, a review

mad dog math header

Looking for a simple, non-stress-inducing math facts drill program that’s equally effective for your 1st grader and your 5th grader (and any other grade in between)? Math Dog Math’s drill software just might fit the bill.

How’s it work?

Mad Dog’s clean, uncluttered design is easy on the eyes, and the small number of problems on the screen is easy on the nerves. After logging in, you can do timed (choose 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 2 minutes) or untimed practice.

mad dog math screenshot

There are 4 levels of practice available. Level 1 covers addition and subtraction in small increments.

mad dog math screenshot 2Each “fact family” covers all the facts up to that number. For example in the “0 to 6 addition” practice, you’ll be drilled on any addition problems whose sums are 6 or less (6+0, 5+1, 4+2…).

Level 2 reviews those facts in bigger chunks.

mad dog math screenshot 3

Level 3 moves on to multiplication and division practice. The “Challenge” level has 2 different challenges: Mutt Math (mixed operations)…

mad dog math screenshot 4and Kennel Trouble (a real challenge, even for mom!).

mad dog math screenshot 5

The program moves you through each fact family and level as you demonstrate mastery. “Club Stickers” are earned after completing enough drills (all the drills in under 2 minutes, under 1 minutes, etc.).

The interface is easy to use. Simply click “Fetch” for a new set of problems, and then “Time Me” to start answering them. A little timer pops up on the upper right and the current problem will be highlighted in yellow. Type the answer and the program automatically advances you to the next problem, no need to hit enter or an arrow key (this might require some getting used to as many programs do require hitting enter to submit the answer). When you are done, there’s a dog barking sound effect, then Mad Dog shows your mistakes and indicates whether you can advance to the next fact set (you can make up to 2 errors).

What did we think?

I had the opportunity to try out Mad Dog Math with Mary (age 7) and David (age 11). First, let me say that both of these kiddos are allergic to being timed. The thought that they will be cut off and not be able to finish if they take too long just paralyzes them. The great news is that Mad Dog times you, even if you choose the “no limit” option, you just don’t run out of time! I love this! It takes away the stress, but you can still see how they are progressing in speed. Unfortunately, Mary found the little timer in the corner distracting. Easily fixed, we covered it up with a little sticky note.

I thought that I wouldn’t like the fact that they move on with as many as 2 wrong (2 wrong out of 20 isn’t horrible, but it’s not mastery, either), but have found that there’s so much overlap from one group of problems to the next, that there’s little chance they’ll get through without having mastered them all. And being able to get 1 or 2 wrong, helps them get over that perfectionism obstacle.

I also thought that the small number of problems in each drill was going to mean slow mastery and that the fact they all appeared on the screen at once would deter the kiddos…not so (see how much I know?). Having the problems all on the screen at once gives them an easy visual that the end is near, and the short drills encouraged them to try multiple times to beat their previous time. This set up really works.

I like the clean interface, the lack of fancy animations, and the lack of distracting music and over-the-top sound effects. There are a couple of areas where Mad Dog Math is a little too minimalist. Rather than having a drop-down menu to choose your login from, you must type your name in each time, so don’t forget what name you used (was it David, david, or one of your nicknames, David?). A drop-down menu would be a great addition. There’s also no way to check your child’s progress, except by logging into their profile. I’d love to see a way of accessing all the kiddos’ progress at once…a way to print it would be even better for those who need to document their math time.

Overall, we like it. Mad Dog Math seems to be getting my kiddos more comfy with math drills, a definite plus.

Mad Dog Math is available for download for Windows PC and costs $19.99- $39.99, depending on the length of the license (from 1-year to forever). You can add as many students as you like.

Download a free trial of Mad Dog Math here.

For more reviews of this product, please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.

Disclosure: I received a temporary license of this software free of charge in order to review it. I received no compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own and I was in no way required to write a positive review. My thoughts cannot be “pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered.” They are my own.

Credit: The quote in my disclosure comes from the 1960’s TV series The Prisoner.

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting soft, i think i will give it a try. It is good because isn`t so expensive. Do you know if it has a demo version?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for asking, there is a free trial available. I've added the info to the review.

    ReplyDelete

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