There are a lot of apps out there trying to “make learning fun” and they meet with varying degrees of success. Personally I tend to feel that they’d be better off focussing purely on the educational side or purely on the game element, as attempts to combine the two often feel forced and end up
being neither. That said, there are a few apps out there that hit the nail on the head and get both parts right, today’s review is for one such example, Dragonbox.
How it works
The two different versions (5+ and 12+) represent different difficulty levels, the 12+ game offering a much more comprehensive exploration of algebraic principles but is obviously aimed at slightly older children (despite the name, the developers recommend it’s use for kids aged 9 and up).
Dragonbox successfully gamifies algebraic logic by having kids move colourful tiles around on a screen according to rules which are gradually introduced, in an attempt to isolate the ‘Dragonbox’, a tile which represents the variable being solved for. As educational apps go they really excel at actually teaching something new, rather than relying on existing knowledge of the subject. Kids just feel that they’re mastering another puzzle game, at least at first. Gradually the tile images are changed into more obvious algebra references, but by then the game has already drawn them in.
My only little issue with Dragonbox is the price. At $7.99 and $5.99 for the +12 and +5 versions respectively, it’s certainly a pricey option and not one I’d have tried were it not for the raft load of positive reviews associated with it. It lives up to the hype, but it would be better if there was more of it and even then it’s not really the price range I’d expect from this sort of product.
Despite that, I’d still recommend Dragonbox as a great introduction to algebra in a way which is intuitive, engrossing and which kids want to play. I’ve spotted a few reviews from adults who are using it to brush up on their own algebra in an accessible way too, so maybe it’s not just for the kids!
Here’s the developer’s website with store links for both apps across all platforms.