It’s finally here – my youngest child is going off to school for her first full day of primary school tomorrow! She has bags of confidence (I hope this lasts) due to a great start with her learning at nursery and some recent revision of number thanks to Doodle Maths.
We were approached by Doodle to road test their apps and review them in exchange for a year’s subscription. We have been trying them out for a few weeks now and this article is based on what we have found. In the interest of fairness to parents reading this we have been honest in our review.
Doodle Summer Challenges
Over the Summer the learning website, Doodle, set the #DoodleMathsChallenge and #DoodleEnglishChallenge for children who have a Home Premium Subscription or a School Premium Subscription to their websites.
The Summer Challenge is designed to help combat learning loss over the summer holidays by getting children to rehearse skills in maths and English on the Doodle App or website. Just 20 minutes per week makes them 4 times less likely to suffer learning loss than those who don’t do anything (according to reproach undertaken by Doodle and academics at Bath University).
To complete the challenge children need to earn 750 stars and a 14-day streak and then they will be sent a celebratory pin badge and certificate. It really is very easy for them to do but the big question is…
Will my child like Doodle Maths and English?
Ultimately this is down to your child’s personal tastes and interest in learning maths and English! I can say honestly that my 4 year old really enjoys the activities on DoodleMaths that are designed for foundation age children upwards. As the activities progress they get harder and as she is right at the start of her foundation year she hasn’t learned much of this stuff at school yet. However, the algorithm inside the app tailors the questions to ensure they are at the right level for each individual child, and we can see that she is practising things she is capable of doing and not just guessing answers! The app sends parents updates on how their child is doing so we can monitor how her learning progresses across the year.
Doodle have previously run a Christmas and an Easter Challenge so we are keen to see how she gets on with these when she has done some learning at school. In addition to the Doodle-run challenges there are print your own challenge sheets for schools to give out for over half term, but there is no reason parent’s can’t use these too. We are going give this a go over half term in October and there is a range of certificates to download and print for free, and a selection of prizes available to buy at the online shop.
Personally, I really like the simple layout of the Doodle apps and website. There is a large variety of question types so it maintains the children’s interest. The colours and fonts are children-friendly and a voice over reads the questions aloud to help those who would struggle to read them. We did find the odd quirk with the voice over for example on the task below the instruction is reads, “counting in four s,” rather than fours. However, once we realised that’s what it had said it didn’t cause the children a problem.
As my daughter is too young to be doing timetables her big brother has been using the DoodleTables app that comes with the DoodleMaths Premium Subscription. He is at the start of Year 4 now and aware that he will undertake the Year 4 Multiplication Tables Check set by the government at some point in the year.
The purpose of the MTC is to determine whether year 4 pupils can fluently recall their multiplication tables.2018 key stage 2 multiplication tables check assessment framework
Whilst this is nothing to be concerned about, he is a driven pupil and wants to do well. The DoodleTables set up is super simple with separate practises in each times table available so he can focus on each one separately until he is totally confident with it. I like that it is not just straight recall of facts that is practised: there are also questions on the associated division facts and fractional operations, which means children learn their tables inside out. When my son realised he could use the DoodleTables app to practise his tables in a fun way he was really pleased and it has been no trouble to get him to use it for 5 or 10 minutes each evening. In fact he is usually on it longer than that!
DoodleEnglish and DoodleSpell
DoodleEnglish is a separate subscription to DoodleMaths. The English subscription also includes the DoodleSpell app. DoodleEnglish is aimed at children in Year 1 and above so we took out this subscription on behalf of my middle son who is just starting Year 2 and particularly needs to focus on his spelling.
We like DoodleEnglish for all the same reasons as DoodleMaths – the questions are varied and child-friendly, the format is fun and the children are rewarded regularly with stars for their effort. The questions target areas the children know allowing them to rehearse and steadily improve them helping to build confidence.
The spelling app was good too but it is fair to say there were some issues with the pronunciation of some of the words (see video clip below). Whilst we can work round this as our child can read the words, it is distracting and goes against the teaching of the letter sounds upon which so much emphasis is placed in the foundation stage. We also found the app on Mac Book didn’t work as well as the app on iPhone or iPad as the voice-over didn’t play (despite other sounds playing).
Premium Subscription v. Regular Subscription
The difference between a premium subscription to the regular free subscription is that your child gets unlimited access to all the activities on either DoodleMaths and DoodleTables, or DoodleEnglish and DoodleSpell, whereas the regular subscription limits them to one practise per day. The Premium Subscriptions also update parents on children’s progress and allow parents to set additional activities to target key skills. The cost for subscriptions is outlines below.
In summary we liked DoodleMaths and DoodleEnglish and would be happy to recommend that parents who want to try it out do so using the Free Trial option, or pay for a months subscription first to see how they get on with it. We love the DoodleTables app as additional practise for our Year 4 preparing for the Multiplication Tables Check. We are not as keen on the DoodleSpell app due to the voice-over’s pronunciation, which I feel needs to be in alignment with the letter sounds taught in school. We will be giving the Doodle Challenges a go this half term and will let you know how we get on with them!
#AD/Review – we were given a year’s subscription to DoodleMaths and DoodleEnglish in exchange for this review. However, all views and opinions are our own.