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Kids' App of the Week: DragonBox Numbers

Perfect for a budding mathematician, DragonBox Numbers comes with a set of smart blocks can be sliced into parts (for subtraction) or fed to one another (for addition). Mix in a familiar Angry Birds style leveling system, a “Cut the Rope” game mechanic for subtracting, plus a bit of finger painting for numeral recognition and some money for introducing place value, and you have the year’s all-time best early math experiences.

However, there are a few limits. You can’t turn off or adjust the background music and you’re limited to just four player profiles. These aren’t deal breakers, however. A child’s progress is saved automatically, and this app makes no attempt to sell or harvest information — making it a viable classroom or library choice.  

The ten animated blocks, called Nooms, are inspired from Cuisenaire Rods, a staple in any quality early childhood classroom. Each block is color coded, and comes with a unique look and personality. The bigger the rod, the higher the number. As children stack, slice, toss and sort, they start discovering the relationship between number and length.

There are three modes of play: Sandbox for exploration, Puzzle with 250 challenges, and Ladder, which has specific number targets.

The active/discovery pedagogy is the same that is employed in the other DragonBox apps. There are no quizzes and children always drive the activity.

DragonBox Numbers
iPad, iPhone, Android and Amazon
Ages: 4 to 9

Warren Buckleitner, Ph.D., is editor of CTREX (Children’s Technology Review Exchange), a professional subscription-only database for teachers, parents and librarians. Have a look at www.ctrex.us.