There are only two things that my daughter reliably wants to do every day. She wants to read books and she wants to play on the computer. Oh wait – there is the third one – she wants to play on my iPod too. The pull of the computer appears to be irresistible for her. I never tried to see how long she would play without limits – we do limit her computer play to about 30 minutes a day. These minutes grew quickly to 9 hours spent on Dreambox in the last 3 weeks when she promptly flew through K games (to be exact, she is about 75% done with K-level games and started on some of 1st grade games). I wrote my first review of Dreambox a couple of weeks ago and want to take some of what I said back. We loved the game then, but we both love it even more now. If you read my prior reviews, you know that I don’t say it lightly about anything i review. We did sign up for Dreambox membership despite the cost, because Anna literally begged us to keep playing this game, and I was amazed to see how her math skills exploded in the last 3 weeks. I didn’t like reward part of the game at first, but she loves earning tokens and completing the missions now. Then she spends those tokens in the arcade – she loves the “sticker studio” game. I also see now that the game is truly adaptive. The desire to give wrong answers “for fun” was extinguished very quickly, since she wants to complete each game as fast as possible. It’s also interesting to see how the game sometimes “kicks her out” of an activity after a certain number of mistakes and then reintroduces the same game later. Of course, daughter also adapts and tries to avoid “numbergram games” where she doesn’t do as well, but sometimes she has no choice but to accept a “numbergram mission” and slowly improves there as well. It’s pretty amazing for me to see her effortlessly building number lines and manipulating higher numbers – one activity that I tried to introduce to her with magnetic numbers and met mighty resistance. For whatever reason computer drills seem infinitely more interesting to her than the same drills on paper and even with real manipulatives. It might have something to do with a visual feedback on every successful answer and knowing that she is working towards the goal that is meaningful to her (like rescuing a kitty :)).
Do those skills translate to “real life”? Absolutely! She effortlessly counts to 100 and higher just for fun, without any prompting on my part. She makes and solves her own little addition and subtraction problems and breaks numbers into addends. Most importantly, her feeling that she “is not that good” at math was replaced by the same feeling of competency that she has in reading. I am extremely excited about the program, but I want to make several cautionary comments to anyone who wants to try it out:
- Start with PreK level – K level will take your child too far into fairly advanced games. We started with PreK, and my daughter is fairly strong in math, but some of the activities proved to be rather challenging for her level, at least in the beginning.
- I think that your child has to master 1:1 correspondence and number sense (knowing at least 0-9) to start playing without being frustrated.
- Do not help your child. What I like about the game is that you cannot just “stumble through”. It’s better if they try a lot of entry level games and gain mastery than move beyond their comfort zone and get frustrated.
- Again, this is not a replacement for math curriculum. We completed all K-level math before through games, books and manipulatives. DreamBox builds proficiency and mastery, but the foundation has to be laid before starting to play this game.
I am linking this post to Math Links at Joyful Learner.