Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

DragonBox BIG Numbers

DragonBox BIG Numbers

Spring 2017 Mobile Apps
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Developer: WeWantToKnow AS
Download Price: $7.99
Platform: iPad

DragonBox Big Numbers is a compelling, even addictive, opportunity for kids to practice counting, addition, and subtraction of increasingly large numbers. Starting with only a single apple tree bearing three fruits, players collect and exchange items to build up a whole world. They plant more trees and exchange apples for coins and gems that open new areas, then smash rocks, go fishing, and chase bees to collect even more items that can be exchanged for bigger and better places.

As items are collected, they must be tallied. Initially, players work with manipulatives to group the items into tens or hundreds as needed, then swing them down into the answer row, where the game provides numbers to trace. This allows beginners in big-number math to practice forming numerals and to learn simple regrouping. As the game progresses, the number of items increases rapidly; players quickly reach the level of two- and three-digit addition and over time can work up to four- or five-digit arithmetic. Similarly, when items are exchanged, players must perform the subtraction to complete the transaction. The game gradually incorporates non-manipulative, column-based mathematics; this will be a challenge for the younger users, but parents of more experienced mathematicians may wish there were even more of the advanced problems.

Kids have to make strategic economic decisions as the game goes on. Is it worth spending the coins on another tree, or is the fishing center more important to build right now? Does it make sense to use apples to buy rocks and use the rocks to buy coins, or to use apples to buy coins directly? Players have the opportunity to build a couple of homes for the fuzzy characters in the game world and use the game currency to furnish the homes; kids have to decide if the reward of the home item is worth the delay in other game progress.

The game's addictive nature is both its strength and its biggest drawback. Even kids (and parents) who don't need the math practice will be compelled to spend time in this app; parents will need to set hard limits to keep game time in check (this will also serve to keep the game fresh for kids). It is also a concern that more time within the game is spent on collection activities than on actual arithmetic; it is possible to get by on only one or two problems a minute, many of which are just quick additions. Bottom line? This is a game kids will genuinely want to play.

Emily Crawford   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Look for this product at:
WeWantToKnow AS
Available on iTunes

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