DragonBox Math Apps: Teaching students to think like mathematicians

What it is: I adore the DragonBox math apps! I was first introduced to DragonBox through their Algebra app. The app takes away all math anxiety by teaching algebraic concepts without numbers or algorithms. It is genius! You can read my review of that app here. DragonBox Numbers is for kids who are new to numbers, counting, addition, and subtraction. DragonBox BIG Numbers is the next level app of Dragon Box Numbers. As they play, children learn about how big numbers work, and how to perform long addition and subtraction. In DragonBox Elements, students will secretly learn geometry. By playing 100+ puzzles, kids will gain a deep understanding of the logic of geometry. As they play, students will actually be recreating the mathematical proofs that define geometry. What I love about the DragonBox suite of math games is that they are unlike any other math apps. You won’t find mindless repetitions and quizzes of math facts, instead, these games help teach students how to think like mathematicians. This is learning math through exploration.

How to integrate Dragon Box math apps into your classroom: The DragonBox math apps take advantage of a student’s innate curiosity through play and exploration of math concepts. Each game engages students through exploration, reflection, and application.  If you have a 1:1 iPad classroom, use these apps daily! Students can play a game, and then come together as a class to reflect and write down the rules they have learned in that “chapter.” Then, take an equation from the game and solve it on paper. See if students can connect the cards and rules of the game to the equations on paper. Solve the equations using strategies and rules from the game.

In a one or two device classroom, play DragonBox as a class by connecting your device to a projector. Explore the rules together and let students take turns being in charge of a chapter. Review rules and make connections as a class. Set up DragonBox as a math center that students can visit in a rotation where one center is interacting with the game, the next is an opportunity to record rules learned and reflect, and the last is application of the rules to an equation.

Be sure to check out the DragonBox for educators where you can download teachers guides and printable resources for each game in the DragonBox math suite. You’ll also find a great “rules” guide for the algebra and geometry games.

These are seriously my favorite math apps of all time! They encourage kids who can think and apply like mathematicians rather than kids who simply memorize a formula. DragonBox creates a deep understanding of mathematical concepts and number relationships.

Tips: While the DragonBox suite of math apps aren’t free, you can purchase them at a deep discount for educational institutions and bulk purchases. Teachers, you can get access for free to make sure that the apps are right before committing to a purchase for your students. You can also purchase apps in bundles.

Dragon Box: a game for students to learn algebra…secretly

What it is: Dragon Box has got to be the most brilliant game for teaching a new concept I have seen in a LONG time.  I am SO impressed with this app, I can’t say enough about it!  This is a math game that teaches algebra without you really realizing that it is a math game teaching you algebra.  It feels more like a logic card game than anything else.  There are 200 puzzles that secretly teach kids to solve equations.  They unlock each level by figuring out how to balance an equation (you have to isolate the dragon on one side of the board in order for him to emerge). After each level, he grows a little until he is full-grown.  Students learn concepts such as elimination, fractions and isolating variables throughout the game.  This is the best math app I’ve seen. It is NOT a drill/skill type app. It is actually teaching students to think like mathematicians instead of just asking them to solve a bunch of problems.

How to integrate Dragon Box+ into the classroom: I cannot say enough about this app.  The way that it gets kids thinking is completely fantastic.  Students learn algebra and how to think like mathematicians without even realizing it.  The game gives minimal direction, and invites students to explore and try new things to isolate the dragon.  The best way to use this app in this classroom: just let students start playing with it!  I love that this app could be played by students as young as six years old successfully, but also used by high school students where they would get those “aha” moments of understanding how algebra works that they may have missed along the way.

Put your students in teams, or let them explore Dragon Box independently.  Dragon Box allows for multiple logins, so you could even use it as a classroom center rotation.

Because you can download Dragon Box on multiple device types, you could even use this on a classroom computer connected to an interactive whiteboard or a projector and take turns playing as a class.  There are plenty of levels for every child to participate multiple times.

Price: \$5.99

Devices: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPod Touch (3rd-5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS4.0 or later

Tips:  Dragon Box is also available on the Mac App Store, Google Play, PC shop, Amazon Appstore for Android, and Windows Store.  Even if you don’t have iDevices, your students can play with Dragon Box!

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Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Dragon Box in your classroom.