Review: Prodigy Game the Math App

This game has great music, intriguing storylines, and makes *me* want to play it. I have been sitting next to my child, watching the game with great interest.

First she got to pick her avatar’s name and appearance. (Some of the other math game apps we tried did not have this feature, which disappointed her.) She also has a house and acquires items, which she loves. In these ways, the game reminds me of Animal Crossing. While her character and name remains constant, at the beginning of game play each day, she can choose a world.

Then within each world, there is a map, and she can move from one location to another. There is a feature for adding real-life friends to her game. Speaking of the map, there are a variety of settings: an island, an academy, a village with her house, and a number of other locations.

The different locations have different stories. In the Academy, for example, she searches for lost papers with her pet always at her side.

On the island, she is supposed to collect runes, and she can teleport through them. Once she has collected runes, she is supposed to place them in a ritualistic circle. It is compelling. She enjoys finding her way around the island, searching for these runes.

Each time she encounters a wizard/monster, she must battle it. This usually costs life (hearts) and then earns hearts and golds.

Math problems are the mechanism for throwing weapons at other wizards. It takes a few math problems / weapon throws per battle. A few of the math problems are multiple choice, and the student can select an answer randomly. Second chances exist, but sheer process of elimination will not always result in throwing the weapon. The math problems are pretty rote. Imagine a math worksheet full of problems on the same math skill.

The game will continue giving the same format of problem until it considers the skill mastered by the student.

Then the game will give a different skill and format to the student. My child is working on a math level that she has already learned, not learning new material through Prodigy. There is sometimes a button that says “video lesson” on the problem screen. There is also a button that says “read to me,” which is extremely helpful for this early reader.

While we are talking about reading skills…During the game, there is sometimes dialogue between two characters. While the dialogue is sometimes acted out loud by voice actors, sometimes there is no audio at all. The reading level of these conversations is approximately second grade level. The game directions are also typed but not read aloud. Without being able to read these texts, the game would be far less compelling and would feel unclear. First graders (the first level of math is first grade on the app, but I hear that the adult can adjust for younger levels on the webpage) may need an adult to read aloud to them during game play.

About math skills… When the child first joins the app, they select a grade level. The program begins with the math content that is typical for that grade. However, Prodigy adjusts the difficulty of the material based upon the child’s previous answers, so the problems will get easier or harder accordingly. If you would like your child to be restricted to a specific grade level, you can do that through a parent account. First, you create a free child account on the website or a tablet, and be sure to write down the username and password because it will not be emailed. (Ask me how I know.) Then you create a free parent account on the website and connect your child’s username to it. After that, you see your child’s accuracy and skills practiced, number of problems solved by date, and you can “manage child” (a change from actual life), and adjust the child to remain within one grade level or continue on adaptive setting to have the child practice more than one grade level at a time.

While the math problems themselves are nothing more than a worksheet might provide, the game is riveting and much more fun. Your child will probably think they have duped you because they are playing a really fun video game. You will possibly think that you have duped your child because they are begging to play a math game all the time. Or perhaps, this game hits the sweet spot, and no one has been duped at all.

Also of note, while this game is free to play, there are many, many, many advertisements about upgrading the child to a Premium paid account (for $9/mo).

If your child is like mine, she will begin begging. You see, a Premium account allows more pet fun, more gold, more outfits, more fun game stuff. If you would like to keep your pennies, your child will still get all of the math and game play from a free account. Or you can be like me and tell your child they can earn the money to pay for the premium account by doing household chores. We’ll see how it goes…

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