Submitted by Stephanie Elms, Annandale VA
When it comes to math apps and video games, more often than not, they are not much more than glorified worksheets dressed up to make math drill “more fun” (yes, I am looking at you TimezAttack). While those apps have their place, you will notice very quickly that DragonBox+ is something very different. What makes DragonBox unique is that it truly lets the child discover the rules of algebra through the gameplay (which in the beginning does not even use numbers) rather than “teaching” them the rules and then reinforcing it through the game. Jordan Shapiro explains it this way in his review of the game, Can Video Games Make Your Kid Smarter:
Dragonbox is impressive because, without relying on text, it teaches the rules of algebra step-by-step as if the player is really only learning the laws of the universe particular to the game. This slow and steady way of training players is familiar. It is one of elements that makes other touch screen games, like “Angry Birds,” “Cut the Rope,” “Where’s My Water?” and “Plants vs. Zombies,” so addictive. Each of these games teach players only what they need to know to execute the immediate task at hand. Then, the game stacks one operation atop the next.
My teenage son played DragonBox and enjoyed it (which is high praise, as he is a true gamer type of kid who is not usually impressed with “educational” video game offerings). When he started learning algebra, it became obvious that his having an introduction through DragonBox was incredibly useful. Anytime he started getting confused over what step to do to simplify an equation, I just had to remind him to think of how he did it in DragonBox and he was easily able to remember. DragonBox gave him a visual, intuitive way of understanding what he was doing and did not rely on him memorizing steps and rules.
The developers of DragonBox recently re-vamped their offerings and now offer two apps: DragonBox Algebra 5+ and DragonBox Algebra 12+. They both start with the same basics, but DragonBox 12+ has more levels and gets into more advanced topics. DragonBox 5+ would be appropriate for younger kids (elementary school level) who want to play something fun while being exposed to algebra concepts. DragonBox 12+ serves as a fantastic introduction to algebra for middle and high schoolers.
For a review of how the game works see DragonBox: Algebra beats Angry Birds (ed. note: this review refers to the original version, now called DragonBox5+) and It Only Takes About 42 Minutes to Learn Algebra with Video Games which includes an interview with the game’s developer.
DragonBox is available for iOS, Android, Mac and PC. At $5.99 for DragonBox 5+ and 9.99 for DragonBox 12+, it is one of the more expensive learning apps out there, but in my opinion it is well worth the price. The game does allow multiple accounts so multiple children (and adults!) can each play their own character.
Other Math Apps
A fun and engaging learning tool for practicing math facts, number sense, and mental math skills. Available for iOS, Android, Mac and PC.
Rogo is completely new and original, a mixture of a maze, word-search and sudoku, with an innovative and intuitive interface. Available for iOS for $2.99.
By playing Motion Math, learners improve their ability to perceive and estimate fractions in multiple forms. Available for iOS for $1.99.
Marble Math/Marble Math Jr.
Solve a variety of math problems by collecting numbers as you roll or drag your marble through a series of fun mazes. Marble Math comes in three versions: Marble Math, for ages 9-12+, Marble Math Junior, for ages 5-8 and the free Marble Math Lite, for ages 6+. Available for iOS for $1.99.
With Math Ref you can browse over 1,400 formulas, figures, and examples to help you with math, physics, chemistry and more. Available for iOS and Android. Has a free lite version in addition to the full version app for $1.99.
Use your math skills to defend your treehouse against a hungry tomato and his robotic army in this fun action packed game! Available for iOS. Has free lite version in addition to the full version app for $1.99.
iSolveIt: Math Scaled
MathScaled is based on a balance-scale format. The goal is to place different shapes with unknown weights on the scale so that it is balanced. Available for iOS for free.
iSolveIt: Math Squared
MathSquared is a series of grid-based puzzles using basic math operations that help develop logical thinking and reasoning strategies. Available for iOS for free.
“Slice It!” is all about slicing shapes into pieces that are equal in size. Sound easy? It may start out that way, but soon you’ll be cutting shapes that will puzzle you like never before. Available for iOS and Android with free lite version or the full version for $.99.
Read the previous posts in this series:
Stephanie Elms is constantly trying to find that elusive state of balance in her life while enjoying her two energetic yet vastly different boys. You can read about their ongoing exploits on her blog, Throwing Marshmallows. Stephanie also volunteers as a member of the VaHomeschoolers Board of Directors and is the VaHomeschoolers website administrator.