The first time I investigated the Smartick website, I was intrigued. Kids ages 4 to 14 can use the site for about 15 minutes a day to improve their math skills. Although I feared it would not benefit my 13-year-old twin math prodigies, I signed up for a free two-week trial to let them preview the site.
During the first three days, they completed a series of level assessments to determine their starting point in the program. One girl was highly motivated and enjoyed Smartick from the start. Although her twin sister did not share her excitement, she didn’t mind using the website for 15 minutes a day. Based on their interest level, we signed up to review Smartick for the Review Crew.
After each twin completed the initial level assessment, Smartick began assigning math skills for her to practice during her daily online session.
Smartick sometimes offers her an interactive video tutorial to present or review a key concept. Follow-up practice problems solidify that skill. Each exercise begins with easy questions to help her build confidence. As she answers quickly and accurately, they increase in complexity.
The screen displays only one problem at a time, although she often completes more than fifty in a fifteen to twenty-minute session. She receives immediate feedback as soon as she submits each answer.
As a reward for exercising her math muscles, she earns ticks, which appear on the screen as gold stars. Using this in-game currency, she can purchase clothing at the virtual shop to customize her on-screen persona. The more questions she answers, the more ticks she can earn. Sometimes she gets to solve a bonus problem and spin a wheel for extra ticks. At the end of her session, she has the opportunity to correct her mistakes to earn one more.
Completing her math practice session is a ticket to the Smartick virtual world. Although neither girl has fully explored it, both twins have visited the shop, where they can purchase new outfits for their avatars. My daughters consider the clothing selection a bit limited, but it’s still fun. When fresh inventory is available, a virtual truck drives up to the store and delivers new merchandise.
The older twin explores the clubhouse occasionally, so she can see how many ticks she’s earned compared to her sister.
She also showed me how, with the click of a button, she could change the time of day and weather in the virtual world. Aside from turning it from day to night, she can also bring on rain, snow, or sunshine. There are even haunted movie and Halloween themes to explore.
For the most part, both girls enjoy using Smartick to improve their math skills. One of them noted, “It’s good at explaining things,” especially to younger kids. She thinks it is well suited for kids from ages 4-14, assuming you are “in the right grade for your age.” She enjoys exploring the shop to buy accessories for her avatar.
At times, though, she feels rushed to complete all of the questions in the allotted amount of time. When she works on more challenging skills like multi-digit multiplication, she needs more time than Smartick expects her to take for each problem. She confided, “Sometimes I make careless mistakes because I feel rushed.”
Her twin sister, who was initially less enthusiastic about Smartick, has grown to appreciate the website. “It helps me with the skills that [our main math curriculum] doesn’t teach. Sometimes I get to do logic lessons, which are really fun. It is fun to compete with my sister for the most ticks. Sometimes I buy her gifts with the ticks.”
On some days, though, she’s not in the mood for extra math practice. Twenty minutes can seem like a long time. She admits, “By the end, I’m pretty exhausted.”
She also wishes Smartick would provide a calculator to help her complete complex calculations more quickly.
Although students use it independently, Smartick offers some terrific tools to help parents keep tabs on their kids’ progress. After my daughter completes a session, Smartick immediately sends me an email summary. The report details which skills she worked on and conveys her speed and accuracy for each one.
Often, the email employs distinctly positive words to describe her performance. I love seeing my daughter’s face light up when I parrot those words to her: “You performed magnificently in your Logic session!” or “Your speed was extraordinary in Factors and Multiples!”
The daily email also notifies me when my daughter works on a new level assessment. This evaluation allows her to attempt topics not previously presented.
Logging into the Smartick website, I can find even more details of each child’s progress. When I click on my daughter’s avatar, the site shows a calendar with a round stamp for each completed session.
After clicking on a calendar date, I can view a full report of that day’s session.
Scrolling down reveals exactly how many problems she did that day. By selecting the magnifying glass icon for a particular problem, I can view that exercise and see my daughter’s response. The click of a button reveals the correct solution.
In the Motivation tab, I can track the rewards each girl has earned for her hard work. So far, both have achieved the Pythagoras and Newton Diplomas.
I can also view the balance of her in-game currency. The site lists how many ticks she has earned in each session, and what virtual goodies she’s bought at the shop.
During the review period, we slackened the pace of our Algebra II course. After all, my 8th-grade daughters need not rush to finish Calculus before 11th grade. Completing only half of a textbook lesson each day afforded them extra time to review essential math skills with Smartick.
The Smartick website is customized for each child. Because my twin daughters have different strengths, they seldom complete identical activities on the same day.
Much of Smartick focuses on basic math and pre-algebra skills. Surprisingly, though, the girls came across logic in our math curriculum and on Smartick at the same time. They enjoy practicing this fun skill online.
Since we frequently encounter fractions in algebra, Smartick’s fraction activities have proven especially helpful.
Smartick is a powerful math resource tailored to elementary and middle school students. A single-student membership is $44.99 per month. Quarterly and annual memberships are available at a substantial discount.
For students who struggle to learn math, it may be worth every penny. Smartick could provide an entire math curriculum for early elementary students.
Since both of my twins are strong in math, a Smartick membership is not essential for our family. But during the weeks we’ve used the site, it has helped the twins improve their math skills. Using it to supplement our curriculum has allowed them to strengthen foundational math skills that will help them excel in higher-level math.
For the past six weeks, Review Crew kids of varying ages have enjoyed full access to Smartick. Their moms can’t wait to share how well it’s worked. Be sure to read their reviews.