Recently, on one of my favorite blogs, Free Technology for Teachers, Richard Byrne featured the app Fetch! Lunch Rush! for iPhone (also can be for iPad). I immediately downloaded it, played around with it, and loved it. I emailed all lower grade teachers to see if it might benefit their students with practicing some basic math facts, and the entire 1st grade team signed up to give it a try. I printed out the cards and posted them around the media center so that the game took on a true scavenger hunt feel. The basics of the game are that you have basic math facts that add or subtract up to 10. You have 10 printed cards with numbers and symbols on them to post around the room. The app gives you a fact, you find the answer, you point the iPad at the picture, a picture of sushi appears on your screen, and you tap it to send it to lunch. The app times how long it takes to answer the problems and increases in difficulty as accuracy and speed increase.
Students began on the carpet for a very brief demo of how the app worked. Some students were paired together on 1 iPad (up to 4 players can play on 1 device). Other students worked alone. It was amazing to watch how active the students were. They were scurrying about the media center looking for answers, pointing their iPads at the answer, tapping the augmented reality sushi, and moving on to the next problem. Along the way, students got problems that were challenging to them. The teacher and I gave them tangible objects to help them (fingers, popsicle sticks, markers, etc). They stopped on the floor or at tables to figure out the answer before moving to find the card on the wall. Students also began to get missing integer problems like 3 + ____ = 9. These were the most challenging for first graders, but the challenge didn’t stop them. They were eager to get an answer and continue the game.
This app pulled together so many great learning pieces for students. There was gaming, movement, problem solving, the cool factor, and technology. The teacher made observations and then went back to the classroom to practice more strategies that will help students develop their math fact fluency. I hope more apps like this one cross our path because it was fun, engaging, and took boring math fact practice to a whole new level!