UMIGO review
This post represents a compensated editorial partnership with Umigo via The Mission List. Narrative and commentary are my own.

One of the incredibly awesome things about having W in a charter school for kindergarten was watching him learn at his own pace. While some elements of his education were at grade level, he grabbed on to math and kept running. When I went in for my last parent/ teacher meeting at the end of the school year I was told that W was working on and excelling with 2nd grade math.

For whatever reason, math clicked. I know a large part of that was being able to learn early concepts of math online at his school. The charter school introduced most lessons on a computer and by doing so I think W saw learning as a game.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if learning could always be fun?

On W’s last day of kindergarten his teacher handed me a thick stack of worksheets for us. The goal is to keep up with a bit of the school routine and not let skills learned in kindergarten slide. W will be starting a new school in our new neighborhood this fall and it would be great if he could hit the ground running.

But worksheets aren’t always so fun. We push through them, especially the reading and handwriting, but I was dreading math worksheets. What if he stopped loving numbers because it wasn’t fun anymore?

I was seriously excited to hear about Umigo, a free (!!) online application for kids to have fun and solve problems. The educational content is aligned with the Common Core Standards for Mathematics for first and second grades. Yes, new math. This is the stuff your kids are elbow deep in. (UMIGO is funded in part by a US Department of Education Ready to Learn grant awarded to WTTW Chicago Public Media.)

It’s not instructional, it simply lays out concepts for kids and walks them through. Each appisode has a story, problems to solve within the story, and a music video that reinforces the lesson learned. The problems to solve are games that they can return to and play at different levels.

When I told W about it he was ready to try it out immediately. This was a melding of two of his favorite things: apps and math. The first appisode he dove into was about pizza and I watched over his shoulder as the concept of fractions was introduced. Within minutes he was talking to the screen and telling the characters the answers.

He wanted to create a demonstration video to share so kids could see how easy it is to jump in and have fun. He got so involved with the lesson that it took a bit of prodding to get him to turn around and talk. He genuinely is a an official superfan and it’s been fun to watch him get swept away.

W would like to tell any parents of kids in kindergarten through 2nd grade to “let them play these games” so they can “have fun with math”. (You can take a look at some of their appisodes on YouTube if you want to test the waters before diving into their site.)

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