Thursday, August 27, 2009

Arithmemouse Times Tables Review : One of the best multiplication games ever made.

The first game that I want to review is Arithmemouse Times Tables. In Aritmemouse Times tables, you play as a little robot mouse named "Arithmemouse." From their site: "Arithmemouse Times Tables is a Windows based video game that gives children an opportunity to learn times facts 0-12 in an entertaining non-violent virtual environment that focuses on learning first and testing second."

What I like:
First, they have a free demo that is small; you're not downloading an enormous game just to try it out. You don't need a super computer to run it. Eric, my son, plays it on a small netbook, and we also have it running on an old desktop. The set up was easy.

Eric couldn't get into his multiplication flash cards that I made for him, but sometimes it is hard to pull him away from this game. The character has some appeal. Eric's younger sister, Madison, who is in kindergarten loves to play "Awifmemouse"; we're working on that.

Another good thing is that the game doesn't really punish your child for failing with a "life" taken away or a health bar. If your child fails to get an answer right in real life, you give them the answer and test them again, and that's what happens in this game. It's kind of neat.

The price. $19.95 is certainly well worth it as times facts can be a challenge for a child to "get into."

(I hate to confess this, but games like this give me some free time without guilt. If I'm preparing dinner or just taking a break, and Eric is playing an educational game, I feel good about it.)

The controls are simple; both Eric and Madison could easily control the mouse character selecting the right answer for each question. There are virtually no typing skills required.

What I didn't like:
I would have liked to have seen some sort of in-game progress report for parents. On the Arithmemouse site. That's listed as an upcoming feature, so that will be nice when Madison is in third grade.

Though the controls are simple, I think it would be nice to have an option to control the character with a mouse or joypad. Galen Tingle is listed as the creator of Arithmemouse Times Tables. I've written him to let him know about that and a few other tweaks that I would like to see.

Kid Safe Software

Hi, this is my blog about finding wholesome educational / entertaining software for children that enriches their lives. As a homeschooler, I thought it would be helpful to share my experiences. I would say if you're looking for a non violent game for children-- even an educational one, you're not exactly looking for a needle in a haystack, but you're certainly looking at a short list.

In the coming months I hope to relate my experience with a variety of educational and entertaining software and sites developing a short list as a guide for home schoolers, teachers, and school-going children that adds to the experience of life. I have a few that we've used in my home, and will start with those. I'm always on the look out for new ones, so please write me at: if you know of any.

In an effort to make my job easier I don't want to get into the nuances of what is a violent game and what is not. For example, Mario allows children to to play as a character that can jump on the heads of cartoon creatures to destroy them, but Mario would never really be described as a violent game. Instead it would be referred to as "fantasy violence," or some such. Instead of getting into all that, put simply if the game has violence of any sort I will keep it from this list. That will keep the job of listing the games easier for me, and will make the list better for readers.