I absolutely love DragonBox math game apps. They make math concepts intuitive and fun. My brother used them for his kids and sang their praises, so I got them too. Here I review the four apps aimed at children ages 4 to 9: Numbers, Big Numbers, Algebra 5+, and Magnus’ Kingdom of Chess. The company also has apps for advanced algebra and for geometry; I’ll buy those down the road when my child is ready for them. The app is available for various devices; here I provide links to Amazon for those with suitable Amazon devices.
In Numbers, children play with “Nooms,” which are monster-like creatures that can be combined and broken apart in units. So if you add a one-unit Noom to a three-unit Noom, of course you get a four-unit Noom. For the Puzzles children have to create the correct sized Nooms to fit together into a pattern. Games involving “Ladders” and a “Sandbox” introduce double-digit numbers. And in a Run action game children collect coins. Amazon (paid link)
Big Numbers is a world-development game. You pick apples, and you can “spend” these apples on things like new apple trees and diamonds. So the game involves adding and subtracting items into the double digits. It’s a fun game in that you achieve progressive goals. Amazon (paid link)
Algebra 5+ is a really clever introduction to balancing equations. The game begins with symbols (such as monsters) and ends with traditional-looking algebraic equations. The game introduces good habits: For example, if you add something to one side of the equation, you have to add it to the other side before you can move on. If both kids and parents get stuck, they can find DragonBox’s “walkthrough” videos. This “game” is hard enough that some younger children probably will have trouble with it. My sense is that kids will enjoy it when they’re ready for it. Of the four apps, it’s the least game-like and the most like traditional math. It’s fun because each equation is a sort of puzzle. Amazon (paid link)
Finally, Magnus’ Kingdom of Chess is an adventure game wherein the player moves through the world as a chess piece moves. You begin as a king and so can move one space in any direction. The game includes simple chess sequences. For example, if as a king you approach enemy pawns, you have to attack them from straight on or from the side. If you move into a square diagonally in front of a pawn it will attack you. In the game you collect coins, find keys and unlock doors, find hidden passageways, and so on. Amazon (paid link)
I think a lot of people have the attitude that, if it ain’t dry and boring and presented by an adult as a monologue, it ain’t education. I think that’s a destructive presumption. The DragonBox apps demonstrate that children can learn math in an intuitive and playful way.