Ah yes the little one’s are getting older and it’s hard to believe they’re already in kindergarten. In between snacks, nap time, and playtime the cute little tykes are learning how to count, and lets be honest we all want our kids to count better than the other kids. Well, keep your kids interested and occupied while at the same time teaching them how to count better than the next kid with the new children’s math app Number Sense!
Created by Emantras Inc, Number Sense is designed specifically for kindergarten aged children. The app comes with 5 mini games: Booster Balls, Do the Dotty, Numberella, Fishoonka, and Toot Toot Train. Collectively these games teach kids how to count from 1-10, 10-20, 21-30,etc., how to determine bigger numbers from smaller ones, how to quantify which side of the screen has more objects than the other, how to add or remove objects to show greater than and less than, and to add or subtract objects to create the correct total number (ex. 2+5=7). When kids generate the correct answer they earn rewards such as trophies, toy trains, and more. Earned rewards are saved so kids can view their hard earned goodies any time they want.
The 5 included mini games each provide a slightly different challenge and increase in difficulty as you move from one to the next. The first and most basic of the bunch is Booster Balls. In this game you’ve got to fill a bowl with the required amount of balls and then shoot them into a cute blue monster’s mouth from a giant PEZ dispenser like object. Unfortunately aside from feeding the monster, there is no interaction required for this particular game. The balls fall from the sky and over time they collect one at a time into the bowl. As they’re collected they’re counted (1, 2, 3, etc.), but you’ve got to wait for them all to collect, which in some cases takes some time. I’d like this mini game much more if kids were required to touch and drag the balls into the bowl until they reach the correct number.
All the rest of the mini games not only require interaction, but require kids to use logic to solve problems, which I like. Do the Dotty is essentially connect the dots by touching numbers in order from smallest to largest. This is a great way to reinforce to kids that 1 comes before 2 and 2 comes before 3, etc. When they answer correctly a cute image is created that with one touch they can change the color of the image and can save it to the iPhone / iPod touch photo gallery. Numberella is a great mini game where a handful of numbers are displayed in clouds and kids have to choose either the smallest or the largest number. This game does a good job of making kids think before they choose. For example, the largest number will be inside of the smallest cloud, making the larger cloud ever so tempting to touch.
The final two games, Fishoonka and Toot Toot Train, teach kids addition and subtraction. Fishoonka presents red fish and yellow fish on opposite sides of the screen. It asks kids to drag fish from one side to the next to get the number of fish to be equal to one another or greater than or less than one or the other. Toot Toot Train involves having kids add and subtract train cars until they reach the required number. To remove or add the cars you just touch the train car and tilt the iPhone / iPod touch to the left of right to slide them away or toward the train. I like both of these games because they require kids to not only think of the solution, but also involve some hand/eye coordination.
Overall Number Sense is a pretty decent app for teaching kindergarteners basic math and how it applies to everyday life. The sounds, characters, games, and narration are perfect for kids. There were however a couple of areas that I think could be improved upon. Namely portions of the interface design/layout, the number of interactive features within the game, and better reenforcement of the math that’s performed. Regarding the interface, currently the games are laid out as icons and the print describing each game is rather small. To me, I’d probably like it a little better if each game option took up the majority of the screen and was numbered. Currently I feel like the little icons and little font may be tough for some little eyes to see. Regarding more interactive features, I found myself trying to touch and swipe the screen quite a bit only to find it did nothing. I definitely wish there was much more touch sensitive and responsive features. With respect to reinforcing the math that’s performed, there are portions of the game where I felt like it should tell kids what they just did. I’ll use Toot Toot Train as an example. You may be asked to remove train cars until you have total of 3 connected to the train. If you start out with 9 cars and remove 6 it counts down the number of cards you removed (1, 2, 3, etc.), but when you’re finished you just know that you ended up with 3 cars, it doesn’t spell out how you got there. I think it would be better if at the end it explained how you got the correct answer (9 cars – 6 cars = 3 cars). As it stands today I feel like some of the games could be completed without children truly grasping the math that they performed. I think they’ll understand the numbers, but they may not fully understand the addition and subtraction that occured.
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Requirements: iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad; iPhone OS version 3.0 or later
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