In fact, the question most people ask is, “what on Earth is an adaptive algorithm???”

An algorithm is a formula, process or set of rules that you (or a computer) follow in order to complete a task. An algorithm for brushing your teeth might be:

open bathroom cabinet > take out toothbrush and toothpaste > open toothpaste > measure needed amount onto toothbrush > brush teeth etc.

Miss a step, or do it in the wrong order, and the task is not completed satisfactorily.

We use algorithms in DoodleMaths to analyse responses and set work that is adapted to suit each user’s individual needs.

Why do we need these adaptive algorithms? The answer is simple, and something we have touched upon in other blogs: making the right choice is extremely difficult.

Children don't always choose what's best for them

Children don’t always choose what’s best for them…

Give children the choice of what to learn and most will choose the simplest task that will give them the greatest reward most rapidly. Ask parents to choose a topic for their child and they are usually baffled by the choice of topics they are confronted with (the website shown below invites parents to choose from the content for Year 4. Not only is this overwhelming, it also neglects the fact that many children in year 4 still haven’t mastered Year 3 topics, whilst others need to be stretched by Year 5 work). Whilst teachers are not baffled by such a choice, they are still likely to select work on the basis of what is best for the class as a whole and not each individual. The truth is, the exodus towards digital resources over the last 10 years has not raised standards in maths. Common sense will tell you that simply replacing paper-based content with digital will not accelerate a child’s learning.

Parents are often baffled by the choice that some websites offer

…and parents are often baffled by the choice that some websites offer

The advent of ‘big data’ and the power to process it has opened up a better way to do things. We collect information on every question answered by every child  – every minute of every day. This is analysed on an individual basis to determine the level a child is working at, their strengths, weaknesses, and the pace at which they need to learn. The data is also analysed on the basis of the population as a whole in order to hone our questions and algorithms and make them more effective.

Of course, there is nothing new about we are doing. Any good tutor will assess a child to determine their level, strengths and weaknesses prior to teaching them.

And it’s fairly easy to determine a child’s weaker areas. What is more difficult is to respond to these in a way that maintains a child’s motivation and doesn’t knock their confidence – particularly when you can’t see their face or listen to their voice. This is where our content is vital. Questions are very carefully written to work alongside our algorithms such that they are always slightly, incrementally harder than what has been previously mastered. All our content has been written by leading maths teachers.

To be clear: with DoodleMaths, children get no choice at all in what question comes next – it is determined purely on the basis of what they most need to learn. This, though, is what gets – and guarantees – results. Our competitors, in the form of digital resource banks, are only as effective as the individual selecting the work. With DoodleMaths, on the other hand, we can say, with confidence, that any child earning 100+ doodlestars per week for four weeks will increase their maths age by three months.

Draw nine dots on a page:
9 dots questionCan you join them with just four straight lines?

Hint…To solve this you have to think a little outside the box

Have you had enough?

The solution:

9 dots answer

  1. Start from the bottom right dot, draw a line through the central dot ending on the top left,
  2. Connect the top row, but don’t stop on the top right – continue on to the next dot if the pattern continued,
  3. Now draw a line through the middle right and middle bottom – continuing again to where the next dot would be,
  4. Finally connect the remaining 2 dots in an upward line.


Cell Phone City provides you the top apps for your young one’s learning, all available for either Android or iOS devices, or both. Here’s their review of DoodleMaths:


DoodleMaths (Primary Maths)

Give your child help with math problems with this cool educational app. DoodleMath is perfect when your child has a math exam ahead that needs acing. It follows a unique system that works on your child’s strengths and weaknesses and selectively assigns tasks they can to do to build up their knowledge. DoodleMath’s interface appears like a doodle book with a menu of math games, a pet character, and a searchable index containing useful information.

continue reading on >>>

Although we’re breaking new grounds in the use of technology in teaching and learning, we remain firm believers in the old-fashioned mantra ‘practice makes perfect’. It’s certainly the case that with maths – the more you do, the better you get (with the proviso that you are practising at your threshold.)

But sometimes it’s easy to let good intentions slip. Here are some tips to build good habits. None of these are our own – as you might guess, we know a lot of people who do DoodleMaths, and love hearing how it works for them!

1. Put aside a few minutes each day for DoodleMaths. Ideally this will be at the same time each day. My own son, Ted, is an early riser, and he does his DoodleMaths whilst I’m still getting to grips with my first cup of tea. His friend is allowed 30 minutes Minecraft time before tea every day – but only if he has done his DoodleMaths. And his cousin Poppy does her DoodleMaths whilst her younger brother is reading his Biff, Chip and Kipper books every evening.

Tabitha car 32. Amelie does her DoodleMaths on the school run every day. Her mum reckons she does an extra 75 minutes of maths per week in this way.

3. If doing it daily is tricky, try doing a good bulk weekly. Owen does his DoodleMaths for 30 minutes every week whilst Molly has her swimming lesson – and then they swap when it’s Owen’s turn to get in the water. It doesn’t matter then if he only does one or two more short sessions that week.

4.  Maisie is admittedly irregular in her usage in term times – her mum is a teacher and Dad works long hours. But she picks it up rapidly every holiday, doing 15-30 minutes daily to keep her brain active. If she’s had a break of more than a month from it, mum puts it in reassessment mode to recalibrate it to her level, strengths and weaknesses.

Here are some of the common issues that prevent regular usage:

a) Tablet is always out of battery/lost/under the sofa/being used by Dad etc. If this is common with you, make sure you are making the most of DoodleMaths’ best feature: cross device synchronisation. This was important since more than 50% of families now have more than one touch screen device in the home. Download the free DoodleMaths app onto any touch screen device or smart phone, and log in to your family account. This way, your child can do their DoodleMaths on whatever device is easiest at hand. Stuck in that morning traffic? Hand your child your phone, and the work they do will synchronise to the iPad ready for them to resume before tea-time.

b) Work program is too hard. Children lose motivation if they keep getting things wrong – and maths is all about confidence. DoodleMaths calibrates the work so children are generally working at around an 80% accuracy – sufficient to balance reward with challenge. If your child is finding it too hard, force a reassessment from the parent dashboard, and then ensure they have no help when the app is in assessment mode – if they do receive help, the algorithms will assume they are more able than they really are.

c) Child needs incentivising. Set targets for your child. Our studies have shown that 50 stars per week will help your child keep up, and 100 stars per week to catch up or get ahead. Make your child aware of this. Some children are motivated by knowing their DoodleMaths Age, others by stars, some by their pet and others by whether they’re on 7, 8, 9 or 10-a-day. And for the significant majority, only ice-cream or pocket money will do (and, btw, that’s fine in our household!)

If you have an Apple device, you can even send encouraging pet messages to them whilst they are using the app (endless fun if your child doesn’t know what you’re up to!)

I hope this helps. Practice is the key – a few minutes every day can rapidly mount up over the course of weeks and months and make a truly significant difference to your child’s maths.

We’d love to hear your tips, too!

This month’s problem can be solved by pre-schoolers in seconds, but it can take maths professors much longer:

1235 = 0
2678 = 3
3668 = 4
9000 = 4
8000 = 5
3218 = 2
6777 = 1
8888 = 8
1568 = ?

The solution: count the number of enclosed spaces within each digit.

1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 have no enclosed spaces

6, 9 and 0 have one enclosed space

8 has two.

4 has 1 or 0 depending on what font you are reading this in – so I left this digit out.

Summer’s here and it’s time for you to come up with the punchline.

“Where do maths teachers go on holiday?”

Post your punchline below. If yours is our favourite, a bag of Doodle-goodies will be winging it’s way to you!

‘Practice makes perfect!’ It must be one of the most irritating things that was said to me as a child. But, in my view, never has an idiom been so true.

I know of a CEO who has a golf lesson every fortnight with a top coach. He pays almost £200 per hour. He hasn’t improved his handicap at all over the last year. Why? Because between his lessons, he couldn’t find time to practice.

The same with the numerous kids who have piano lessons every week. The ones who move through the grades aren’t the ones who have the best teachers. It’s not necessarily even the most gifted. It’s the ones who put in their daily practice.

Our experience as teachers and educators has taught us that the quality of practice in maths is far more important to the learning process than the quality of explanation. However elegantly explained, a concept will not be remembered unless it is practised sufficiently. Kids learn through doing.

We define good quality practice as being regular (ideally daily), engaging (touchscreens helps here!) and at the level most appropriate for the individual. The latter is vital – most children, when faced with a choice of tasks, will choose not what is most appropriate for them, but what will give them the highest reward for the minimum effort.

When it comes to the core basics of maths, regular practice is the absolute key to improvement. We can tinker with the Framework and the National Curriculum; we can try to employ the best graduates as teachers. But the simplest way to raise standards in maths would be to give children more opportunities to practice. In the UK’s quest to understand why Shanghai leads the way on the PISA tables, this has been one of the key findings: children in Shanghai spend more hours doing maths on a weekly basis than their counterparts in the UK.

A final warning: as with anything, if you don’t practice at all, you actually get worse at maths. Children regress more in maths than any other subject over the summer break – mainly because opportunities to practice are not so obviously available in everyday life as with reading and writing. Seeking out those opportunities, be it puzzle books, sudoko or DoodleMaths, is a great way to reverse this drop.