I wish I had had Pet Bingo (Duck Duck Moose/Khan Academy, 2015; iOS and Android) when I was in elementary school. It combines one of my favorite things, pets, with one of my least favorite things, the necessary evil that is math, for math practice that is actually kinda…fun. (Here’s another math app I like for the same spoonful-of-sugar reason.)
After you create a user profile, the app opens on the “Pet Store,” a menu with options for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division exercises. Each has easy, medium, and hard categories; tap “?” to get a randomized exercise and difficulty level. Once you’ve selected your activity, you’ll find a screen with a math problem on the left side and a bingo card on the right. Tap the correct number to solve your problem and get a stamp on your bingo card. An incorrect answer gets you a gentle boing sound and a new problem to solve. If you need a little help, tap the “?” icon next to the problem for a visualization.
Getting bingo for the first time wins you a weird-but-adorable seal/snail hybrid pet, which then lives in your “Pet Pen.” These critters pop in and out of the bingo card as you play, making sweet noises of encouragement. Subsequent bingos, in any of the activities, earn you snacks for your pet and (every four bingos or so) additional pets. Go to the Pet Pen to name your pets, feed them and help them grow, and watch them nap or waddle around the pen. The pets don’t really do a whole lot, but they sure are cute.
Often the correct answer to the problem appears in multiple places, so choosing the one that will get you closer to bingo makes the whole process a bit faster. But even without this kind of strategery, the rounds are pretty short — which keeps the rewards coming quickly and, by extension, frustration levels low. Rounded shapes, a candy-colored palette, and jazzy music make for a cheerful experience.
The “Report Card” section for parents shows the user’s scores for each of the four types of math, broken down into many individual concepts (e.g., “Adding two numbers that total 10,” “Subtracting double digit numbers”).
This section also offers a brief explanation of the app’s curricular basis (K–4 Math Common Core State Standards) and links to Duck Duck Moose’s website and its other apps.
An engaging, educational supplement or alternative to virtual pet games like Pokémon Go.