Gameplay in Imagine Math Facts

The basic premise of Imagine Math Facts is that each student's character, Kandi or Scratch, defeats their enemies by answering math questions correctly. Although there are other components to Imagine Math Facts such as a typing tutorial and pre- and post-tests, this article focuses on the instructional component of Imagine Math Facts, which is the actual gameplay experience for students.

Jump to: Question Types | Bosses (Enemies) | Levels Within Each Operation | Retention Cycle

Questions Types

During the gameplay in each operation, there are 2 kinds of questions, comprehension questions and facts:

Question Type Definition
Comprehension Question
A question that has a visual aid to help students figure out the answer. In the example of 1+1 below, each 1 has a dot on top of it so students can count the dots to arrive at the correct answer. Comprehension questions are not timed.
A question that is timed and must be answered without any visual aids. If students don't answer correctly in the allotted time, it is counted as incorrect, disappears from the screen, and a new question appears. 

Bosses (Enemies) 

The enemies the students attempt to defeat are called bosses; they are different in each level in each operation and may look like robots, plants, creatures, math symbols, animals, or other characters.

There are 3 types of bosses; here is what it takes to defeat each one:

Boss Type Details
Mini boss

Students must answer a comprehension question plus 3 facts correctly. A mini boss introduces 1 new fact to the user, mixed with 2 previously-known facts. If students get any of the 4 questions wrong, they start over at the beginning of the mini boss. If students answer all 4 questions correctly, they move on to the next boss. To get to this new enemy, students traverse through the game world, such as jumping through lava. 


If  users have trouble with the navigation, a hint arrow will appear above their avatar's head, pointing them in the direction they should go (multiplication and division operations only). In the more difficult worlds to navigate, the system will warp students to their next enemy after 3 failed navigation attempts. 

Basket boss

Students encounter a basket boss after successfully defeating 3 mini bosses. A basket boss asks 9 timed facts. The facts from the previous mini bosses are recycled; each one is repeated 3 times at random.

Unlike a mini boss, a basket boss does not begin with a comprehension question, although one may be inserted mid-play if the program determines it's needed. In both mini bosses and basket bosses, the correct answer appears on the screen after students submit a wrong answer.

Finishing a basket boss by correctly answering all 9 questions serves as a checkpoint—both progress and usage are saved. The checkpoint notification looks like this for students:

Final boss

Students must answer 9 or 12 timed facts from the prior 3 or 4 basket bosses. There are no comprehension questions. The final boss serves as an assessment of sorts, and the correct answers do not appear on the screen when students type an incorrect response in a final boss.

When students begin a final boss, a 3...2...1... countdown screen appears for each attempt.

After an attempt to beat a final boss, a summary screen shows students what they got right and what they missed.

If they don't beat the final boss on the first try, students are sent back to mini bosses and/or basket bosses so that they can loop through the facts they need to review. After successful completion of the additional mini bosses and basket bosses, students are prompted to try the final boss again. Students can repeat this whole process as many times as needed until they defeat the final boss.

Defeating a final boss earns students another Checkpoint reached notification and moves students up a level within the operation.

Levels Within Each Operation

Students can tell which level they are on by accessing the Pause screen.

In the example above, the blue circles on the status bar on the right indicate that the student has completed the pre-test and level 1 in this operation.

The color-coded section in the top left corner of the Pause screen updates after each checkpoint is reached. Right now, the facts the student mastered in the final boss for level 1 are green. The facts the student will be learning in the first mini boss of level 2 are yellow. If students pass the facts on a boss, when they return to this pause screen, the color will have changed from yellow to blue. They'll change once more from blue to green when the student gets them correct on a final boss attempt, but if students answer incorrectly on a final boss, those facts change to red. 

After beating a final boss, students move to a new "world" in the game, where the landscape in the game looks different. This is another indication that students have moved up a level. For example, the landscape may change from the Fortress to Sky Island. 

Retention Cycle 

After students complete at least 2 levels (i.e., defeat 2 final bosses), another gameplay element is introduced: Retention. This is a review of previously-introduced facts. 

During Retention, the progress bar on the left shows how the student answered according to the following color code:

  • Blue - not yet answered. All dots start out blue and change over time.
  • Green - answered correctly.
  • Yellow - missed. Students will get another chance to answer this same fact at the end of the Retention exercise. After the second attempt, the dot will change to red or green.
  • Red - missed, and student will not get another chance to answer this fact.

After a round of retention, students are shown their results, with green indicating mastery and red showing incorrect responses.

From Retention, students go to Retention Review, which serves to review only those facts that the student missed (got red) in Retention. Retention Review works a lot like basket bosses; it drills students on the facts they missed. Once students demonstrate mastery, they move on to Retention Final Boss, where they cycle through up to 12 previously-missed facts..


If students answer perfectly in Retention, they will skip Retention Review and Retention Final Boss.

The retention life cycle is a miniature world where the character is trying to rescue their sibling from the bosses. Once students answer enough questions correctly, their sibling is freed!

After playing through a retention cycle, students begin the next level in the operation unless they challenge the level without playing all the way through. At the end of all levels and retention levels in that operation, students complete the post-test.