Learning the times tables takes a lot of repetition, which children often find boring. They’d rather be playing their favorite video game instead of practicing math facts. Running Noah from Useability is a new app that uses children’s love of video games to give them lots of repetition of their multiplication facts whilst playing a fun game.
Running Noah is an Endless Runner, it has four episodes each with 12 levels. You need to unlock a level to move on to the next level. The four episodes have different themes and work on 1-4 times tables, 5-8 times tables, 9-12 times tables and 1-12 times tables respectively. The first episode (1-4 times tables) is free, there is an IAP (currently $1.99) to unlock the rest.
The flood has just begun and Noah is on a mission to save all the animals and get them into the Ark. As the storm waters rise the land is divided into a series of islands by raging streams. To rescue the animals Noah must build bridges across the streams and also collect food for the animals on the way.
Beside every stream is a stone tablet with a number on it, and on the right of the screen are three numbers from the current series of times tables the student is working from. Tapping on the right of the screen brings up three more numbers and the player has to tap one number from reach column to create a multiplication problem whose answer is the number on the tablet. The player has to think quickly as Noah keeps running, if he gets to the stream before they have completed the problem he falls in the water. If they create the correct problem a bridge forms and he runs safely to the next island. If they create an incorrect problem the bridge still forms but it collapses when Noah runs across, and he falls in the water. After solving three problems correctly Noah reaches the stranded animal and gets him onto the Ark which completes the level.
As Noah is always running the player has to think quickly to keep him from falling in the water, but collecting food adds another layer of complexity. All the animals on the Ark need feeding and food (corn, fish, pineapples or acorns) is above Noah’s head as he runs. To collect it the player has to double tap to make Noah jump at the right time. If they collect very little food the food meter turns red and Noah runs out of energy. Players can replay levels to collect food they have missed, and improve their score, and they need to complete the multiplication problems correctly each time to complete that level.
Although the gameplay is in essence very simple, completing the levels does take quick thinking, fast recall and good reflexes. Even as an adult with good mental arithmetic skills I found I often had to replay levels to get perfect scores as it is tricky to answer the problems fast enough and time the jumps right to collect the food.
For each times table the problems include multipliers up to 12 e.g. the lowest level could include 4 x 12. Although this was how I learned my times tables, I have noticed some schools now only teach up to x 10. I would like to see an option to limit it to x10, if your child is learning that way. I would also like an option to add multiple player profiles, so that families with more than one child working on their multiplication skills can track their individual progress and let them compete against each other.
The app has an online leaderboard in it- but kids can not sign up from within the app (a good thing) a link is provided so that parents can enter it in a browser and sign up for the leaderboard if they wish to do so. Once they have completed all levels if the enter a parents email address they will be sent a certificate of completion.
I think the game is designed to be fast paced so that children will have to repeat levels multiple times to get high scores, so that they get a lot of repetition which is a good thing. However, some children with slower reflexes or slower processing speeds may find it frustrating that although they know the answers to the problem they can’t complete the problems in time to stop Noah falling in the water, or they can’t co-ordinate their tapping quickly enough to answer the questions and jump for the food. With this in mind I’d like to see an option to have different speeds – maybe an Easy, Regular and Fast speed so that slower children can still use the app and to give different levels of challenge which would encourage even more repetition as skills improve.
Overall, a fun way for kids to practice their multiplication skills whilst playing an Endless Runner game, Running Noah has 48 levels to work on times tables from 1-4 all the way up to 12x. The app is free to download an include the first episode (12 levels) for free – this is a good way to test the app and see if it catches your child’s interest. If it does the $1.99 to unlock the rest of the app is good value. It is child friendly with no adverts, social media or external links.
iTunes Link:Running Noah – Useappility
“…an app that helps kids improve their multiplication skills” BestAppsforKids.com
NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.
Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).