I’ve always taken issue with products that claim they make learning math “fun.” In my experience, you’re either the type of person who enjoys math, or you’re like me, who never had “fun” with it. However, math doesn’t have to be intimidating. And as a parent with kids at the age who need to learn that, I can certainly appreciate the value of an app such as Nommons: Math Universe.
What is it?
Nommons: Math Universe is part space action/exploration game, part arithmetic practice for kids from 6 to 8 years of age. The basic story is that you and Nommons are exploring the universe, but your ship is in disrepair. It’s up to you to fix it, and that, of course, requires math. The better you do at the math problems, the better shape your ship will be in when it comes time to take off.
It’s not a bad concept, really…I’d like it if more of my games replaced in-app purchases with math problems.
How does it work?
When you launch Nommons, you’re asked whether you want to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.
You’ll then need to solve the problems within a certain amount time; if you’re successful, you get to take off. The better you do, the more prepared your ship will be for its flight, so the more fun you’ll get to have exploring space. It’s a procedure with which most kids are familiar; the more you learn, the greater the reward.
I think what impressed me most about Nommons: Math Universe is that the gameplay is actually pretty fun. Apps that use games to serve their educational purposes usually have pretty lame gameplay, killing the incentive for kids to work through the education part. Not so with Nommons.
The gameplay is quite engaging, with the added bonus of allowing children to create their own levels. Tying math in with creativity is a pretty potent combination, and one that could well serve young gamers and students.
Is it contagious?
More so than you’d think, but largely for the arcade action, not the math. Your child won’t actually learn arithmetic with Nommons: Math Universe, as there’s not much in the way of instruction or theory in that regard. It also doesn’t track your progress, although it does offer more difficult problems as you improve. Rather, consider this math practice, kind of like the flash cards I use with my children. Only here, the incentive is to get back in your spaceship when you’re done, and that’s probably better than the incentive my kids have when running through flash cards with me, which is to be done running through flash cards with me.
Now, if we could just get some grammar rules added to Minecraft and spelling practice in Clash of Clans, I’d pretty much be set until the kids hit junior high.