In Monkey Math School Sunshine, kids learn the basics of math while having fun. Guided by the game’s energetic monkey mascot, they are introduced to counting, sequencing, geometric shapes, simple operations and much more. This title was made by the same guys who launched “Monkey Preschool Lunchbox”, a top selling preschool app in the App Store.
There are nine different interactive activities which may be presented randomly depending on a player’s account settings. Each one has a story behind it, giving children some motivation to help Monkey and complete the problem. The Patterns and Sequence activities entails choosing appropriate items to fill in the blanks while Shapes requires players to identify shapes by counting its sides. Less/More and Bigger/Smaller introduces the concept of quantity, Bubble Pop encourages kids to think fast on their feet as they pick out sets or numbers that meet the criteria, Write It Up familiarizes players with how numbers look by asking them to trace (write) it on the sand and Connect the Dots tackles sequencing.
Lastly, the Add It Up and Take It Away activity focuses on addition and subtraction problems, asking kids to pick out the correct total from the numbers held up by Monkey’s crab assistants. In order to make things accessible for the very young, the solution to these problems is supplemented by graphic representations. For instance in “7 + 2” is illustrated using nine jellyfish while the answer to “2 + 2” is demonstrated using four sea stars.
Every activity has its own set of instructions, asking players to tap, drag or write something on the screen. While most of these are easy to follow, Bubble Pop is pretty hectic especially for early readers. Counting items inside flying bubbles may seem confusing for kids, especially those who have just begun to learn about counting. That being said, it is possible to toggle activities on or off in the settings menu. After setting up one player account, grown-ups can also adjust the difficulty manually or set it to auto adjust using the game’s built-in Knack technology. This will adapt activities based on how well or how poorly a player is doing, ensuring that the challenges are kept relevant.
The instructions for each activity may be found on top of the screen. This will be read out loud once by the narrator, which is handy for those who already have a reading knowhow but is a bit lacking for those who don’t. The voice clips also lack polish as these sound robotic, with the cuts between clips glaringly obvious. The male narrator sounds enthusiastic but his nasal voice leaves much to be desired as some words end up garbled and choppy.
On a positive note, this game handles mistakes gently. Instead of punishing players by subtracting points, the monkey just shakes his head every time a player makes an incorrect choice keeping happy – in fact the monkey’s charming facial expressions are positively charged – reminiscent of games like Monkey Go Happy 5. This effectively directs children to an acceptable answer without dwelling on the fact that they made a mistake. On the other hand, the game also rewards correct answers using verbal praise and a happy, handstand cheer from Monkey. For every three or four activities completed, kids earn collectibles for their very own animated aquarium. This gives a solid incentive that is easy to understand. Once the child gets the hang of the rules, he can enjoy unlimited and uninterrupted play.
Because there is no way to repeat the instructions for activities, Monkey Math School Sunshine is best played by those who have a good grasp of reading. Very young kids who are just learning how to read may still enjoy this math game provided they have an adult to help them understand things initially. With some assistance from grown-ups, this title is definitely a good supplement in familiarizing kids with numbers and basic math concepts. The THUP Games site lists it for kids 3 to 6 years of age.