Dragon box numbers app review

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November 10, 2015

in Apps, curriculum, Early Learning, Maths, preschool education

dragonbox numbersI’ve tried many maths apps with my kids so far, with very mixed success. Mostly, I have found that hands on physical materials (such as Numicon, Montessori materials and especially real life items like buttons, pistachios or tamarind seeds) work best, and I had almost given up on maths apps at this young age. One exception has been Math Doodles by Carstens Studios, which I enjoy a lot, but which still seems a bit too challenging for my 4 year old. But I am keeping an open mind, so when I recently heard a few friends from my online early learning community rave about the Dragonbox Numbers app, I decided to give it a try. At $7.99, it is not a cheap app by any mean, but they say “if you worry about the cost of education, think about the cost of no education!”, so for a highly rated app, I went for it.

Similar to Numicon, each number from 1 to 10 is represented by a different coloured “Noon”. There is a variety of games children can play with these noons. One game is to fill a variety of shapes and patterns, which require one noon or a two noon or a five to be pulled onto the shape. So the child needs to see a two is required and merge one noon with another noon to make a two. My 2.5 year old figured this out quite quickly. You also have a game where a certain number needs to be created (for example a 9) and you can choose from a set of ones and twos to make the nine. You can also create different numbers into the tens and hundreds and the app tells the child which number they have created (for example, by dragging a 2 onto the 10, the child is told that 10 and 2 is twelve).

So you can somehow sense a hint of Singapore Maths in this game – children get to know numbers from 1 – 10 in depth and start to understand how bigger numbers are made up of different combinations of smaller numbers. One nice feature is that not only can you merge the different noons to build bigger numbers, but you can also swipe your finger across a bigger noon to break it up into smaller numbers again (for example, cut the four in half into two 2s).

One great feature is that as a child combines two numbers, a voice will comment “5 and 5 makes 10”, and as a child cuts a bigger number into two smaller numbers, it will say “9 minus 2 is 7”. So now my 2.5 year old will chant “5 and 5 make 10” or “2 and 2 make 4” happily while she plays!

Most importantly, this game seems to be fun even for a 2 or 3 year old, while older children can play more advanced games (they can work with sets of tens and much higher numbers for similar tasks). It’s a great first start in the basics of numbers and simple addition and subtraction. I do still prefer real life maths using buttons or marbles, but on the side, this is a nice app I will let my children play about 20minutes each day if they want to practice their maths.


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