Money Up! by pkclsoft is an app that teaches money skills for those who have a disability that makes it difficult for them to learn how to count change. It uses the dollar up method in which the student is taught to give an amount that is just one whole dollar above the item’s price. For example, if a drink costs $2.50, the student is asked to pay $3.00. This method not only helps students become more independent, but also keeps them from being taken advantage of by getting the wrong change back.
There are seven “lessons” included in the app that progressively teaches the dollar up method: Recognizing Money, Basic Practice (Visual), Basic Practice (Audio), How Much Money?, Handing Over Money, Shopping Basics, and Do You Have Enough?. After each lesson, the students are rewarded by playing a game of their choice: Balloon Pop or Coin Drop. I quoted “lessons” because in my opinion, these lessons are more like practices or drills. In fact, students are already expected to know how to count and how to add whole numbers when using this app. They are also expected to be familiar with the currency denominations they are using.
The lessons have a simple, clean, and distraction-free interface that allows students to focus on the task at hand. They are very easy to use and understand. They can even be customized for each student. Under each student’s profile you can select which of the seven lessons you want the student to work on, choose the number of questions asked before they get to play a game, select which currency denominations to include, choose whether the student taps on the screen or uses the a drag and drop motion to answer a question, turn the score display on or off, and decide whether the student keeps doing a lesson until all the questions are answered correctly. To prevent students from changing their custom settings, a profile lock can be enabled under the app’s settings options. You can add an unlimited number of student profiles and each one includes a progress report as well.
I think the lessons are very well done, but I do have a few things I would like to see in future updates. First, in the lesson Recognizing Money, I would like the question prompt to be worded differently. For example, the app asks students “Give me $10 please.” On the screen are some bills, including several $10 bills. Based on the question asked, my son tapped on one $10 bill and clicked the check mark to indicate that he has finished answering the question. To his surprise, he answer was marked incorrect. The app had wanted him to click on ALL the $10 bills on the screen. This was confusing to him. I think that a better prompt for this lesson would be something like “Give me all the $10 bills please.” Second, in the lesson How Much Money, I think it would be better if the denominations were ordered from greatest to least. It is much easier for students to add the bills together if the larger bills are counted first ($20 + $5 + $1 + $1 is easier than $1 + $1 + $5 +$20). Finally, in the Shopping Basics lesson where the students are asked to pay for an item, I would like to see the transaction finished by displaying the amount of change they are expected to get back. This will help students to learn to wait for their change before leaving the register.
One of the things I love about this app is that it includes currencies from several countries: United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and the European Union. I would love to see more currencies added in the future. I like that you can customize the default profile setting. This the first time I have seen an option to do that. I adore the five cute characters that help students with their tasks. They all come with their own special voices and students can choose which one they want. There is a woman, a man, a robot, a dinosaur, and a unicorn. I was also thrilled to see that this app has an option to add items to the grocery list. You can add as many items as you wish and this option is perfect for adding items the students are familiar with. In a future update, I would like to see this option be customizable for each student instead of being shared by all.
I think that Money Up! is a valuable tool to have for those who want to teach their student the dollar up method and help them become more independent. I find the price a bit high (at the original $19.99) and would recommend that a trial option be made available for those who want to see if this app is a good fit for their student, or perhaps a single student option with a lower price for those who want to use it for one child at home.
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