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Review CornerSoftware
On Track Multiplication & Division Grades 3-4
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
This "electronic workbook" pairs practical math exercises with arcade games as rewards. Ideal for math practice at home, this CD-ROM/printed workbook set nicely complements third- and fourth-grade curriculum.
Ages: 8-10   Subject: Math/Logic   Brand: School Zone Interactive
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
Nailing the times tables can take a lot of practice. This program offers a pleasing, computerized approach to tackling multiplication as well as division. Multiplication & Division: Grades 3-4 creates an encouraging and colorful environment in which children practice math facts and play "reward" games. This program is part of a helpful line of CD-ROMs by School Zone Interactive based on — and packaged with — School Zone's popular printed workbooks.

After sign-in, children receive a short and to-the-point tutorial on how to use the program. After this, they are presented with a total of 30 workbook pages, one page at a time. These electronic worksheets are dressed up with colorful cartoon-like images with a jungle theme and set to a playful and pleasing musical soundtrack. Humorous animations appear between pages, and arcade-style games can be enjoyed each time children have attempted two worksheets.

The program's multiplication exercises include typing out multiplication equations given sets of objects, creating equations that link multiplication with repeating addition, straightforward fact drills, finding factors given products, regrouping with the help of a scratch pad, and solving word problems by using multiplication. Division exercises are similar in format: children create division equations given sets of objects, attempt long division with and without remainders, explore the relationship between division and multiplication, and more.

Kids keep track of their progress with 30 color-coded leaves that line the bottom of the pages, each of which represents a page in the set. The leaves change color once kids have attempted the problems on a page — they are red if a page has been graded with incorrect answers, and green if the page has been successfully completed. Though the pages are organized so that they increase in difficulty, kids are allowed to skip backward or forward to any page simply by clicking on a leaf.

Each workbook page is graded automatically. Correct answers earn a star, and incorrect answers are marked with a red checkmark. Kids can return to the pages containing errors at any time. If they want to earn a certificate, they must complete each set of workbook pages with 100% mastery. This may sound a little harsh, but it actually works well. The program is never discouraging, and kids have no time limits for correcting their answers. This encourages kids to think about the mistakes they have made, and fix them. If they need help, they can simply click on the instructions to have them read aloud, the question mark tab for a more specific tutorial, or a tab that leads them to an interactive times table.

The arcade-style activities vary in educational value. One is decidedly mathematical — children must reduce a counter (it may be 140, for example) to zero by strategically moving a frog onto different numbered leaves. Another game is an old favorite in which children play against the computer, competing to form the most squares. The third game involves stacking colorful monkeys. Testers enjoyed the games, and they help boost the overall appeal of the program.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98 or higher, Pentium 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, and 50 MB hard drive space. Mac users require a Power PC 150 MHz, System 7.6.1 or higher, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, and 50 MB hard drive space.

Skills Covered
Players explore multiplication and division: multiplication in sets, repeated addition, multiplication equations described as an array, multiplication facts, missing factors, one-. two-, , three-, and four-digit multiplication, regrouping, division facts, long division, division with remainders, word problems.

Educational Value
This program offers straightforward and appealing skills practice. The program's format helps boost users' confidence with math. Though drill is the main focus, children learn to associate multiplication with repeating addition, and explore the relationship between multiplication and division.

Entertainment Value
The program's use of vibrant color on white backgrounds, delightful drawings and animations, and arcade-style game breaks encourage kids to eagerly practice essential math skills at home. Children are drawn to the program, and its easy-to-use format makes this title all the more inviting. Kids come away from each session with a sense of accomplishment.

A simple progress report is available, and once kids achieve 100% mastery, they earn a certificate and unlimited access to the games. The design of the program is brilliantly simple and invites independent play. Instructions are provided in both text and audio format, and kids can quickly interrupt animations and games with simple clicks of the mouse. There are some awkward moments (children need to get accustomed to moving between keyboard and mouse, for example).

Though the exercises on each workbook page remain the same format for each session, the problems themselves are shuffled, helping to keep the program fresh over time. The title's bright presentation is motivating for most kids.

Dollar Value
This program carries a suggested retail price of $19.99 US.

Released: 2001
Reviewed: March 2002