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Word Problems are a bad word in our house. I can’t do them. My husband won’t touch them. My kids have to do them but, like most kids I know, are completely and totally confused by them. I am convinced that their mission in life is to leave prospective solvers in a state of utter frustration and puzzlement. I wish that apps like Math Shake had been around when I was a kid. This fantastic and innovative new app takes those horrible word problems and breaks them down for you, a piece at a time, helping you decode the language and unravel the mystery behind solving them!

Math Shake comes with six levels of complexity designed for children aged six through fourteen. You can choose your level based on your child’s mathematic ability. Once you choose your level, a word problem appears on the screen with a cute little pencil character in the lower right hand corner. This pencil is your guide through each word problem and helps you step by step along the way. The pencil’s narration breaks down the language in the word problems by helping your child identify what the word problem is asking you to find, which numbers to use to solve it, and the word clues within the problem that tell you what operation(s) you need to use to solve it. Once you have chosen the correct numbers and operation from the word problem, you move into a “Whiteboard” screen with multiple tools available to your child to help them solve the problem. There are number lines, ten frames, counters, fraction pies, and even just pencils to help you calculate your answer. The pencil will even clue you in on the best tools to use to help you find the answer. Kids can even use the microphone to record themselves vocally working through the problems and can play it back to remind themselves how they solved the problem. Once you have figured out the answer, enter it into the answer box and see if you got it right!


Math Shake is a free initial download that comes with the “Confident” level that is designed for 8 to 9 year olds who can start to think a little more abstractly about numbers. Additional levels can be purchased in-app for $1.99 each or you can buy the Everything Pack for $4.99. In my opinion, this is one app that parents and teachers alike should have to help their children with word problems. I LOVED the way it broke each word problem down and helped kids learn how to decode the language of a word problem. I also felt like the app did a wonderful job of providing enough help and support to the child to teach the concepts, but still allowed plenty of time and opportunities for them to work it out on their own. You know as well as I do that when it comes to kids, anything that you can do on an electronic device becomes a million times more fun. So maybe, just maybe, word problems won’t be as dreaded in our home anymore and I can help my children to actually understand and perhaps enjoy word problems.

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