DragonBox – Algebra and Elements

DragonBox make a number of maths apps. My son was too old for DragonBox Numbers, which is aimed at younger ones starting to learn about numbers, so we haven’t tried that one. So I’ll talk about DragonBox Algebra and DragonBox Elements, which we’ve tried.

Both apps are very much game-based. Your child will hardly realise that they’re learning something unless you tell them. That’s both good – especially if your child is reluctant to do maths, like mine is – and bad, in that there’s no practice of math-style questions, so you’ll need to do top-up work before your child can actually answer maths questions after finishing these apps.

DragonBox Elements

DragonBox Elements is based around geometry. It works through teaching your child various skills to solve problems, and then gives levels to solve. These skills correspond to rules that you could use in a geometry proof, and the levels require them to use the skills in the right order to get to the specific outcome. It’s fun, and very easy to pick up. Your child is actually working through the steps of a geometric proof, working out the right order to use the various rules in to prove something – e.g. that two lines are parallel.

If I had one criticism, it’s that it’s relatively easy for your child to solve the puzzles with a try-it-and-see approach, which makes it fun but means that they might get through a few levels without really understanding the concept at first. They’d probably need a few play-throughs before this really sinks in.

With that caveat – and given the fact that the app really doesn’t use math terminology much, so you’d still need to teach them that – I love the app. It helps kids get the concepts, which is a great start to learning about geometry. And my son really enjoys it as a game. As long as you’re not expecting them to be able to pass a geometry paper right after completing the app, I highly recommend it.

DragonBox Algebra

DragonBox Algebra is actually two apps. The first is aimed at children aged 5+, and the second is aimed at children aged 12+. Again – easy to understand, enjoyable to play. My son loved them, got the hang of them quickly, and didn’t feel like he was doing maths at all. The animations in the algebra apps are slightly less characterful than the ones in elements, but I feel like the learning is more solid. It’s a slight difference though: both are good in both respects.

My son whizzed through the 5+ app pretty quick, and regardless of what age your child is, if they can finish the 5+ app, they can at least start the 12+ app. The first few parts are really similar in level. The 12+ app is longer and goes further into algebra.

Verdict

These are app-level prices (i.e. not too pricey) and for the money, I think they’re amazing value. For anything similar on a website, I’d expect to pay a hefty subscription. Just be aware that they’re teaching the concepts in a gamified way, so your child will still need a bit of coaching to know how to tackle more standard-format maths questions afterwards.

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