Shh… don’t spoil the surprise, but if put DragonBox+ in front of your child she will learn algrebra.
Geared for ages 8 and up, DragonBox+’s UI introduces fundamental algebraic concepts by portraying math as a matching, rather than a numbers, game. When a player begins level one, chapter one, the app begins with a brief tutorial, explaining that there are two sides, a box, and some cards then instructing the player to match two cards with a drag gesture.
When the game opens, the player can choose one of countless, punky-looking avatars, and enter her name. The game accommodates up to four different avatars.
To win, and progress through the game, the player must isolate the box on one side. While parents recognize this as “solving for x,” kids will likely just see an intuitive puzzle.
The puzzles get progressively more complex, but each time a new element is introduced, the game gives the players hints on how to use the element. For example, inverses are introduced by telling the player that “each card has a ‘night-card.’” Players can “add a card” to both sides of the game board.
If the player makes an error, the game encourages her to use the undo button and fix her mistake. Eventually the image cards change from cute animal pictures to basic symbols, but by then the player is comfortable with the game play and should be able to roll with this change. When “the box” becomes “x” near the end of chapter one, the role the box plays is so well-established that kids will intuitively understand the change.
When the chapter is complete the user earns stars if the box is alone, the chapter was completed in the right number of moves using the right number of cards.
There are 20 levels within DragonBox+, each with several chapters. A user can replay previous levels in order to improve her star ranking. As a chapter is completed a character on the right of the screen grows bigger and stronger, reinforcing the player’s progress.
DragonBox+ stands out from the crowded field of kids edu-apps because it isn’t weighed down with its mission to teach. While discriminating users will know it’s not just fun, most kids won’t care.
What I liked: The app’s attention to detail is strong. The artistic graphics impressed me, while the music and sound effects don’t grow annoying after playing several rounds.
What I didn’t like: Nothing! DragonBox+ deserves the highest marks.
To buy or not to buy: DragonBox+ is a boon for educators who need to reach kids that might not take to traditional approaches to learning algebra. Outside school, DragonBox+ is likely to appeal to curious kids who like puzzles. It will definitely ease a child’s algebra anxiety.
- App Name: DragonBox+
- Version Reviewed: 1.1.1
- Category: Education
- Developer: We Want to Know
- Price: $5.99