Archive | August, 2012

Guest Review by Josh Young – DragonBox and DragonBox+

29 Aug

Hi again!

If you’re wondering who I am, my name’s Josh, and I’ve come across from Mathematical Mischief (again), to bring you another maths app review! ūüôā

Today, I’m covering DragonBox and DragonBox+, two apps developed by We Want To Know. They’re a small, French-Norwegian startup who are aiming to develop a new generation of digital learning games. Considering that the App Store is massive, it’s a high target to set in such a diverse environment.

Now, one might think upon opening DragonBox, that it looks nothing like maths. In actuality, it is a very, very, very clever con act. I mean, if it was just a maths app, do you sincerely think that any 8yr old would play it? Instead, the underlying motives of the game are hidden within the mechanics of the game, ūüôā

So what is DragonBox?

DragonBox Title Screen – App Screenshot

DragonBox (and it’s enhanced app, DragonBox+) starts off as a simple title screen with a dog in a box. Once you start, you select a character and end up at a level selection screen.

The early levels show tutorials and instructions upon what to do. They’re artsy, clever, and intuitive, and most kids will be able to understand how the levels work. Ideally, to sit with a parent or older sibling that understands basic algebra would be best – having that extra bit of assistance would be useful.

The trick to DragonBox is its intuitive controls and manner of teaching the topic material.

In DragonBox, there’s 100 levels to try out (separated into five different level packs of varying difficulty), and there’s also an extra 100 levels (making that 200 levels) in DragonBox+. Unfortunately, there isn’t a section that tells you what each section is about, which is a bummer, but the level packs themselves tend to alternate between easy and more difficult problems, on about a ten level basis. I found this incredibly beneficial – in Level 1, you may learn what a zero is, then as you proceed, you might apply it with multiplication.

How on earth is it maths?

See, the clever part about DragonBox is that it encourages students to apply maths visually.

Let’s take, for example, this equation:

a\times y=b+c

If we would like to isolate y in this equation, we simply divide both sides of the equation by a. Then we obtain the solution:

y=\frac{b}{a}+\frac{c}{a}

Now, answer this: Do you honestly think any 8 year old wants to play that on an app? The answer to that is, indicatively, no.
What the designers of DragonBox have done is to mask this by using visual aids and cards as a device to practice these skills.

Now, the image below is of a level in-app.

The clever thing about DragonBox is that the maths is hidden within the app itself. – App Screenshot

Now, in this level, you can see that this level is represented by separate objects. Separate objects represent addition, whereas linked items represent multiplication. In this case, to solve the puzzle, you have to put a tomato under the linked objects (which represents division).

That is exactly the same as the equation above – but as it’s tackled in a visual aspect, no kid is going to think that they’re doing math. By hiding the maths in app, the child is learning about maths, but they aren’t being subjected to the archaic teaching styles that you see in the classroom these days. That’s not to say that the old styles don’t have their purpose – but in a modern digital environment, they aren’t nearly as useful in an adaptive, fun environment.

Pros:

  • Intuitive design, very kid friendly, fun and engaging. The music and design of the game invites the player to hatch and grow a monster for each level played in the pack – something that is pretty cool.
  • Actually confronts algebra in a roundabout way.
  • Develops critical thinking and analytical skills – critical for understanding basic algebra and higher forms of mathematics.
  • Ability to save multiple profiles – beneficial for schools or families.

Cons:

  • Lack of directional outcome for some levels – ok, so in Level 1.1 I’m told that I want to get the box by itself. Thirty levels later, an x replaces the box and I’m not told any different. A bit of division based on outcomes (i.e. multiplication, addition, subtraction, division, working with zeroes) would be a far better way of separating the levels distinctively.
  • The difference between DragonBox+ and DragonBox – Ok, so I’ve completed DragonBox, and I buy DragonBox+… only to find out all of the original levels are exactly the same as the original app. The only thing that really is + about it is that there’s a hundred extra levels – and if you’ve bought the first game, you’re paying twice as much for the same quantity of levels!
    • Advice: If you’re sure you want to get the app, get DragonBox+. It’s a little bit more at the time of purchase, but you save the frustration about having to buy another app to get the rest of the levels.

Verdict

All in all, DragonBox is a well developed, cleverly designed app that is sure to engage (and conspire) children of all ages involved with basic algebra.

Title: DragonBox
Publisher: We Want To Know AS
Price: $2.99
Universal ‚Äď will work on both iPhone and iPad.
DragonBox
Title: DragonBox+
Publisher: We Want To Know AS
Price: $6.49
Universal ‚Äď will work on both iPhone and iPad.
DragonBox+

Also available on the Mac App Store and Android.

You can find me at Mathematical Mischief, on Facebook, or Twitter. ūüôā

All the best,
Josh

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Sight Words with Pixopop

22 Aug

Sight words with Pixopop by Sogabee App iconSight Words with Pixopop is the first of two sight words Apps by Sogabee that I’m reviewing. Thanks to Marcel Widarto from Sogabee for giving me the Apps to review. Pixopop art is the work of Ali Sabet, and you can see more Pixopop art and merchandise on the Pixopop website.¬†Stitch, the cute rabbit on the App’s icon, is just one of three characters or mascots your child can choose to guide them through the app.

Activities

There are three activities in the app: Flashcards, Word Challenge, and Spelling. Each activity uses one of 24 word lists, each with 10 words, or you can create your own custom lists quickly and easily. ¬†You can view the contents of each list via the settings control on the main screen, and this could help to match word lists to your child’s homework sight words and spelling lists. Continue reading

Tell Time by StudyPad

15 Aug

If your child is learning to tell the time and need, you might like to take a look at Tell Time by StudyPad. Unlike many other Apps that just ask questions, Tell Time has some features that support learners, including students with special needs.

Features

8 modules in the App  focus on the following topics:

  • Parts of the clock. – Identify the minute hand, hour hand, numbers on an analogue clock
  • Time in hours
  • Time in half hours
  • Time in quarter-hours
  • Time in 5 minute intervals
  • Time to the minute
  • AM and PM
  • Elapsed Time.

Continue reading

10 Aug

Here is a review of a great writing app to suit all ages, particularly for students who have learning difficulties, as it has a lot of supportive features. Reblogged from OT’s with Apps.

OT's with Apps & Technology

AppWriter, an iPad app developed by LingApps features  text to speech, basic word prediction and a very easy interface. It is a favorite of mine however its regular price of $19.99 made me think twice about purchasing it (although I did without regret!). As a back to school sale LingApps has reduced to $12.99, a pretty good deal for this easy to use app easily used as assistive technology for elementary to middle school or older students.

Here are a few screen shots of AppWriter if you are not familiar with it:

AppWriter app has a simple interface making it a great tool for elementary and middle school students with learning challenges. You will find more information on the app in the recent AppWriter review at: http://wp.me/p1w0d0-sk .

I believe this is a good, solid writing app for students. Copying and pasting text into the app makes it a basic text to speech reader also.

This is…

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Enchanted Dictionary – another must for the Teacher’s Toolkit

6 Aug

Enchanted Dictionary¬†by Golden Communications LLC is one of those Apps that is a lot more than it appears at first. ¬†There are two versions of the App, and I was lucky enough to win the¬†Enchanted Dictionary 4-6th Grade¬†version, in an AppAble giveaway. (Thanks to AppAble and to Golden Communications LLC for your generosity) ¬†however all of my comments will also be applicable to the second version,¬†Enchanted Dictionary 7th-12th Grade, as the Apps are identical apart from the pre-installed content. ¬†The Enchanted Dictionary allows users to select a list of words and their meanings to play a game. ¬†Once you hit Play, the definitions are scrambled ¬†and the student must drag the words back into the correct order. ¬†On one hand, the activity reinforces comprehension across the curriculum areas covered in the dictionary categories. ¬†On the other hand, it reinforces grammar skills. ¬†That was the potted guide, but let’s have a closer look at this App, and you’ll see why I love it so much. Continue reading

Kapu Forest

4 Aug

Kapu Forest App icon - pink owlKapu Forest¬†by Kapu Toys is promoted as a digital toy box, and that is really what it is. With this App, children can explore a forest to find 12 animals and their associated games and activities. ¬† Aimed at children aged 1 to 4, it is both educational and fun, particularly when shared with a friend or adult. ¬†I won the code for this App in a giveaway promotion on AppAble, so I’d like to thank them and the Kapu Toys for that. ¬†Having said that, I’d be happy to pay money for this one as it is top quality. ¬†I was going to include some screen shots of the App, but I’ve found a video on YouTube that gives you a better idea of what the App is like:

Continue reading

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