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Reflex app review

reflex titleIn addition to hearing the Duran Duran song in my head, I know Reflex (ExploreLearning, iPad app released 2014; iOS and desktop) as a program that my child’s teacher uses to supplement the class’s math curriculum…and with which my kid is obsessed. While it’s geared toward classroom use (and homeschooling), we play it happily on a laptop at home, too, using our class login information.

There are lots of different games, all based on specific math skills (addition and subtraction are where we’re at) and focused on “fact families” (e.g., 6 + 7 = 13, 7 + 6 = 13, 13 – 7 = 6, 13 – 6 = 7).

reflex menu

reflex fact family

The games are varied and responsive to a child’s learning — matching games and picture puzzles serve as a sort of check-in to assess fluency before incorporating new fact families into the mix. Games include “Alien Sundae,” “Quick Slither,” “Wind Rider,” and “Swamp Chomper”; a few are unfortunately named and rely on tired old cultural stereotypes. (The ancient Egypt–set “Egyptian Conniption” is the worst, though “Ninja to the Stars” is also bad; these have served as “teachable moments” for us, which doesn’t excuse the problem.) Players score points for each game, which they can redeem at the “Reflex Store,” or which they can hoard. They (and parents and teachers) can monitor their progress through fluency grids, charts, and reports.

To be honest, as a parent I’m not a huge fan of apps and online games. But this one seems fun and educational and it has some depth while serving as a useful snapshot for my son’s teacher to assess his class’s math fluency. So, in closing, and to quote Simon Le Bon: “Why don’t you use it?”

Available for iPad (requires iOS 6.0 or later) and as a desktop application; free to download, but classroom subscription required. Recommended for primary through middle-school users (grades 3–8).

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.

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