Math Melodies App: Young Students

The Math Melodies app is a FREE fully accessible math app created specifically for students who are blind or low vision. The app covers a wide range of math concepts and equations from basic counting to long division equations with fractions. In this post, we are going to take a look at the most basic math games that include a number of math concepts designed for young students. Through these games, students learn math concepts and the necessary tech skills to complete these digital math problems.

Math can be challenging for students who are blind or low vision, as many math concepts are highly visual in nature. Preschoolers with vision are introduced to interactive math apps. General education classes are now relying heavily on digital math - textbooks, learning platforms, and high stakes assessments are often provided in digital formats. School closures have increased the use for digital math platforms. Since very few college courses provide braille copies of math textbooks, assignment and tests, students with visual impairments must be able to transfer math skills from tactile format to digital format. It is critical that 21st century students be introduced to and to learn to access math in a digital format - starting at a very young age. While young students should learn math using braille and tactile graphics, these young students should also be exposed to math in digital formats, just like their peers. This is why TVIs are so excited about Math Melodies, a fully accessible math app that includes the most basic math concepts!

Pre-Requisite Tech Skills

Students should have prior experience with using a tablet. To access the basic Math Melodies games, students should know how to tap, double tap, swipe, drag and split tap. Students should also understand (or be in the process of learning) basic tech skills and concepts, such as exploring the screen and building a mental map of the screen by dragging a finger, the ability to drag in a straight line across (in a "row") and up/down (in a "column"), and should understand spatial concepts. Students should listen to the directions, listen to screen reader hints and understand screen reader earcons (sounds).

Math Melodies Layout

The screen layout is predictable. When on a game page, the directions to the game are at the top of the screen, the math content is in the center of the screen, and the answer choices are at the bottom of the screen. With this new version of Math Melodies, the tool bar is a column along the right edge of the screen. The buttons are: Back button, Quit button, Listen button and the Continue button. (The Continue button is often disabled depending on the screen).

The new version of Math Melodies organizes the games by grade levels. Keep in mind that students progress at different rates and games may be appropriate for students younger or older than the designated grade. Math Melodies focuses on grades 1 - 5; however, many of the beginning level games are appropriate for some preschool and kindergarten students. In this post, we are going to look at six of the most basic math games in this app and the tech skills required to play these games. 

Note: The games are listed in alphabetical order.

Users can select their desired grade level and then choose the desired game from the list of games in that level. Each game has at least a Base and Advanced levels for that grade. Or, select ALL grades to see all the games. Select the desired game and then a list of levels of that game listed by grade.

Counting

As always, students should first be introduced to counting using manipulatives. The screen reader hint is, "The animals are arranged in a row." for the base level or, "The animals are arranged in two rows." for the Advanced Level. The student should listen carefully to these hints and should learn to develop a quick mental map of a row or two rows. 

Teaching Hint: Create and introduce the student to a tactile version of the counting game (with one row and another with two rows) and have the student count the animals using the tactile version first.

Students should learn to drag their finger in a straight line across the row to count the animals. Note: Using a right swipe is the easier way to count, but swiping through the animals does not reinforce the concept of rows and does not prepare the student for the next level of digital math games. 

Teaching Hint: Drag your finger slowly across the row. If you drag too quickly, you may not hear the next animal sound. Listen carefully - you can hear the VoiceOver earcon (sound) of a 'click' when you move from one box to the next.

The video below demonstrates the Counting game with VoiceOver on an iPad.

Compare Counting

In the Compare Counting game, students count each type of animal to see which animal appears more than the other animal or if there are equal amounts of each animal. Example: Three donkeys and two animals are on the screen. The player would select "more donkeys" as the correct answer.

The video below demonstrates the Compare Counting game with VoiceOver on an iPad.

 

Insert or Delete 

The Base Level of this game is a grid with two rows and four columns. The directions state the desired number of animals. The student will add or delete animals until he has the desired number. The student should drag his finger systematically across the top row then the second row to count the animals. Squares that are empty say, "insert an animal". The student can double tap (or split tap) on an empty square to insert an animal. If the student wants to delete an animal, he double taps (or split taps) on an animal to remove it.

The video below demonstrates the Insert or Delete game with VoiceOver on an iPad.

Sequence

Another math concept for preschoolers and kindergarten students is the ability to determine patterns or sequence of items. The Sequence game provides animals in a pattern then asks the student which animal comes next in the sequence. In the Base Level, the animals are in one row. The student drags his finger across the row to determine the sequence then selects the desired animal at the bottom of the page to complete the sequence.

The video below demonstrates the Sequence game with VoiceOver on an iPad.

Absolute Positions

In the Base Level, this game uses a table wth three rows and three columns. As always, the student should be introduced to tables in a tactile format. Jessica McDowell created the tactile 3x3 table below that represented one of the tables in the Absolute Positions game. The tactile version is braille paper with rows 1-3 and columns A-C and a tactile horse head in B2. To learn more about introducing digital tables, go to the Introducing Accessible Digital Grid and Table post

Photo of a 3x3 braille grid on a braille paper with rows 1,2 3 and columns A,B,C and a tactile horse head in the square at row two 2 column B.

When teaching the tactile graphic, students should be taught how to systematically search the table. Students should first explore the row and column headers. Since students read starting at the top left and read across in a straight line, I prefer to teach the student to find Number 1 (first row) and drag across row 1. Then, navigate back to Number 1 (move left back across Row 1), move down to Number 2 and drag across row 2. etc. While dragging across the row, the student should state the row he is in, and then the column, as he moves to the right across the squares (Row 1: Column A, Column B, Column C), and again as he moves to the left back across the row (Column C, Column B, Column A). 

When the student finds the animal, he can confirm the row and column headers by dragging to the left to find the row number or up to find the column letter. Be sure to ask the student where the animal is spatially within the table, such as the bottom left corner.

The video below demonstrates the Absolute Position game with Voiceover on the iPad.