By Michael Hartley
I recently came across a colorful, bright computer game for teaching times tables. The main character is a cute robot mouse, called Arithmemouse. The aim of the game is to lead the mouse through a series of mazes and obstacle courses. As this happens, the player learns answers to various times table facts.
If you visit the Arithmemouse website, you'll find a link to a trial version of the software, and also be invited to buy the full version. The trial version is enough to tell whether your kids will like the game - but it will only teach the two times tables. The full version is not expensive, however, at only $9.95 - a price comparable to what you'd pay for some 2D puzzle games from elsewhere on the net.
What is Arithmemouse?
A Helpful Robot
At the start, Arithmemouse is presented with a choice of 13 doorways, one for each of the times tables from 0 to 12. Entering a doorway leads to a set of stairs, on which the chosen times table is printed. A helpful robot encourages the player to read the times table out loud as the mouse climbs the stairs. Then the challenge begins!
The mouse must navigate through a series of rooms, each one containing a times table question. To pass, the player must recognize the correct answer. If the player gets it right, they can escape into the next room. If they get it wrong, they will fall into a pit, where they are presented with the correct answer, then led back to the room with the challenge. In this way, the player is forced to get the answer right in order to progress, but if they get it wrong, they are not left guessing.
Can you help Arithmemouse find the answer?
Is it educational?
It most certainly is. While Timez Attack made my older son the times table champion in his classroom, the cheerier environment, the non-violence and the simplicity of of Arithmemouse mean that it will be the game of choice for my younger child to learn from.
On the other hand, passing Arithmemouse requires only recognition of the correct answers, Timez Attack requires repeated recollection. Again, this speaks for Arithmemouse being ideal for a younger group of players. The price tag (for a home license) is half that of Timez Attack. Special school licenses are also offered, which must be renewed on an annual basis. I don't know what the price of these are, but if you are interested, visit the website, and drop the game author an email. He replied to all mine very promptly.
So, In Conclusion...
Arithmemouse is a fun way for younger kids to be exposed to times tables. My older son also likes it - perhaps he finds it a nice change from the other games he plays - hey, even I like it! It's a "real" computer game, with 3D graphics, snazzy music, lots of "eye candy", and so on. It's also educational, ensuring kids are exposed to the times tables and forced to remember what they've seen.
My recommendation? Download the trial version (it's about 15Mb), and let your kids try it. Watch them as they play, and see if you think they'll take to it. Then, if $9.95 fits into your "kids' education" budget, buy the game. When you buy, you'll be given a special download link just for you. It's important that you download the game within 24 hours, so don't make the purchase when you're about to rush off and catch a plane, for example! You'll also be given an activation code for your copy of the game.
Or, if you still aren't sure, read this comparison of Timez Attack and Arithmemouse before you decide.
And when your kids are happily playing, do come back here, and tell your Arithmemouse story in the comments field below!
Yours, Dr Mike...
If you like what you've just read, sign up for this site's free newsletters: