Math Programs That Add Skills
By Janice Stickley-White

Looking for something to do during those April showers? Pour on the math knowledge and help your youngsters blossom during the spring semester as they surprise their teachers, you and even themselves with improved math skills that will give them an advantage for years to come. Help your kids grow academically by selecting the program that is just the right grade and fun level to suit their specific needs.

• Mia’s Math Advantage, by Kutoka; Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, XP; ages 6 to 10; $19.95;,, 1-877-8-KUTOKA (858-8652).

This multiple award-winning program is simply a blast. It’s colorful, vibrant, fun, visual, warm, endearing and educational. The feature-film quality animation makes this learning software play out like a movie. In this program, Mia’s house has burned down and the only way to make things right is to go back in time and prevent the fire from occurring in the first place – so learners are on a quest to find all of the elements necessary to build a time machine. Of course, it will take conquering math lessons along the way to pull all the essential components together.

The activities are cleverly designed as games so children don’t even notice that even as they play they are learning a wide range of fundamental math skills, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, geometry, fractions, measures and deductive reasoning.

FONT-SIZE: 9pt">• Zoombinis Logical Journey, by The Learning Company; Windows 95/98/ME/XT/2000, MAC 8.6 to OS X; ages 8 and up; $19.99;,

This intriguing and fun game features an odyssey-like journey through Zoombini land (players trek across a terrain strewn with alien-like critters), 12 perilous puzzles, a parent’s guide and printable activities (including dominoes, Zoombini bingo and guessing games). This program has won multiple awards and rave reviews for its unique look and support for logical-thinking abilities. It’s a little wild, offbeat and hip. Definitely the perfect software for the kid who has everything.

FONT-SIZE: 9pt">• Zoog Genius: Math, Science & Technology, by Disney Interactive; Windows 95/98/ME, MAC; ages 9 to 12; $19.99;, 1-800-228-0988.

This program merges math with science and technology to create a brain-bending gaming environment that is both academic and fun.

The basic curriculum for this program was supplied by education researchers. Its format is trivia questions delivered in a fast-paced, quiz-show style. One of its novel features is the ZeeBase custom-questions tool with text-to-speech technology that allows players to create their own questions and e-mail them to friends, as well as download question “pacs” from the Web.

One or two individuals may play this game at a time and three levels of difficulty give the game staying power. The program is alluring, challenging and fun.

• Math Advantage 2003, by Encore Software; Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000, XP and MAC 8.1/8.5/8.6/9/X, Power Mac; ages 11 and up; $39.99;, 1-310-768-1800.

This is one of the most comprehensive math-learning packages on the market. This top-selling system covers Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Statistics, Real-World Math and Business Math. All the bases are covered for students in junior high or high school. Designed by educators, this curriculum-based package is self-paced, interactive and designed to help any student succeed.

Teaching tools include thousands of step-by-step lessons, timed quizzes, exams, a hyper-linked reference library, progress tracking and 3-D games. To see the results, use one of several test-scoring options and print your student’s grades. Detailed help is even provided via a “tutor” in video format. All told, the program includes more than 3,000 practice problems.

The 3-D images are a wonderful reinforcement for math concepts and principles. Coupled with vibrant animations and intriguing audio, the program is fun as well as highly academic.

 Janice Stickley-White reviews software for United Parenting Publications several times a year.