Age level: Preschool, Kindergarten
Description: From submarines and hot air balloons to pogo-sticking cows and snowboarding yaks, Drive About: Number Neighborhood places young learners in a vivid world that provides lots of choices and interaction for practicing early math skills. It includes nine mini games. Learners can select math activities on the map at the beginning of the program, or use vehicles within the program to find different math activities. Not only does it provide lots of opportunity for learning, it’s easy to navigate and fun to play.
Skills & Modifications: This app does not allow for any modifications other than the ability to turn the music off. It does, however, present opportunities to practice several early math skills.
Counting – The mini-games Whale Feeding and Space Vacuum focus on counting skills. The learner is instructed to complete a task such as “Move the vacuum to collect 8 acorns.” With Whale Feeding, the learner uses a sling shot to feed the whale. There are other opportunities to count items while driving between games, for example on the side of the road, plant leaves are visible. When the learner taps the leaves, flowers pop up. It’s a simple element of interaction added into the game that provides another opportunity for counting.
Number order – The mini-games Construction Blocks and Snowboard Slalom allow for fun practice of number order skills. Construction Blocks lets the learner go at his/her own pace creating building with the floors in the right order. Snowboard Slalom requires that the learner move a snowbaording yak to hit flags in the right order, and if the learner isn’t fast enough, the yak goes back to the top of the hill to try again.
Tracing numbers – When your learner finds the hot air balloon, they can fly it up into the sky to discover a Cloud Writing game. This game has kids practicing tracing skills. If the learner’s finger strays too far from the line, it no longer creates clouds as they trace.
Matching – Three of the mini-games practice matching skills: Catch-A-Sea Pickle, Number Painting, and Cookie Bakery. The first two games practice matching numbers to numbers, while Cookie Bakery practices matching shapes. For learners who are not yet able to match in a larger field of choices, I use a piece of paper to cover part of the screen to reduce the amount of information they view as they are matching.
Beginning addition – My favorite mini-game is See-Saw. It instructs learners to “drag the animals to the see-saw that make the number.” The learner can make a direct match, for example dragging the 4 animal to match the 4 animal that is already on the see-saw. Or the learner can practice simple addition by dragging a 3 animal and a 1 animal to match the 4 animal that is already on the see-saw. If the learner makes an incorrect response, the see-saw stops working.
Following directions – Each mini-game provides audio directions for the learner to follow. Instructions are provided one time. This is why it’s also great that there’s an option to turn off the music instead of having to mute the app.
Tacting – The entire app is visually interesting and provides lots of opportunites for learners to tact vehicles, animals, parts of buildings, or other objects that show up on the screen.
Pros: Offers lots of student choice. Also like that there are some tasks that learner can complete at his/her own speed, but others that require quicker thinking.
Cons: Learner does not have to complete a task in order to move on, so left unsupervised a learner can go through the program without actually completing any math tasks. One of the things I love about this app is how much choice it provides for young learners, so I don’t want to discourage its use. Just be aware that this may be an app best used when a parent or teacher is interacting with the child.
Ideas for extending the lesson: One of the things I love about this app is that many of the games can translate to physical materials in order to extend the lesson. For example, if your learner is motivated by the Cloud Writing game within the app, you can write numbers on paper, then have them glue cotton balls to the page. Or if they love the Construction Blocks game, you can write numbers on large building blocks and have the learner stack them in order. And many learners would be motivated by extending the Cookie Bakery game into actually baking cookies!
Cost: $2.99 You should invest in this app if: you have a young learner who is highly motivated by vehicles, you are seeking apps that allow for engaging educational play, or you are looking for motivating ways to teach early math skills.
ABLLS: A10, B5, G4, R5, R9
VB-MAPP: Tact 5, VP-MTS 5, Tact 6, Tact 7, VP-MTS 6, Writing 13, Math 13
**Drive Around: Number Neighborhood was provided to me for free by the company ArtGig Apps. This did not influence my opinions on the game. The thoughts and ideas above are all my own.