Lighthouse Learning sure knows how to put the fun into math as seen with their popular geometry apps Dragon Shapes: Geometry challenge (for kids 6-11) and the more Challenging Shape Arts: Geometry Creations (for older kids 9-11). Their newest apps Treasure Sums – Lumio Addition & Subtraction and Electric Sums – Lumio Addition & Subtraction are no exception. Packaged within a story, the apps teach kids how to think or problem solve their way through math puzzlers using logical systematized approaches. These puzzles are not for beginners who still need to learn basic math facts from rote practice, but are more intended for those to learn how to begin using mental mathematical strategies to become confident and fluent with operations. Each section within the two apps has many levels of play including bonus rounds, giving kids plenty of practice. The stories add a lively tale and give kids a break before proceeding. Teaching within the apps is aligned with common core standards, and there are hints and tutorials embedded in each puzzle. I must say, they are loads of fun, and there is no way anyone would want to stop playing until making it through the levels to hear the whole story. Repeated gameplay is insured using a timer and point system for each puzzle and trying to top previous scores. Let’s take a closer look at each of these wonderful apps and see why they stand out.
Treasure Sums, I just adored this…it had everything a seafaring pirate of the first degree could ask for in an app. Your goal in Treasure Sums is to help Plume, Digit, and Jasper along with their pet companions Quip, Bobo and Rafiki find the lost treasures of Lima. There are three modes of play, i.e. Shape Sums, Number Paths, and Coin Problems, and each progress in challenges for the learner. Kids follow a specified pathway unlocking the story, while solving the most incredibly fun problems. Each puzzler is an entity in itself. Sometimes it is a singular problem and sometimes it lies within a Venn diagram like structure with more than one placement of numbers for a solution. Warning – for teachers that are fond of Sudoku or other math games….play this with a kid…or your students may not have access till you finish all three levels. Should you get stuck, Treasure Sums supports players with visual prompts and hints within each puzzle. I really love this app for its ability to take what is learned and stretch it in so many ways. With practice you begin to use addition and subtraction in an intuitive way of thinking. It not only improves a student’s fluency with addition and subtraction, but gives the puzzles meaning by pairing it with a true story of the high open seas in the time of Pirates.
Shape Sums is the first level. Placing numbers to a Venn diagram like structure, you try to mix and match all the numbers so each number within a shape matches the top target number. Simple in direction, it is not so easy to do, and it is very addictive in play. I loved the interplay of using both addition and subtraction to achieve the goal, and you could almost feel the bending of rigid constructs or points of view when completing a puzzle. This game, takes kids from what they know on a rote level to what is possible with numbers as raw materials.
Number Paths presents problems in both vertical and horizontal pathways. It sets up equations where there is not necessarily a linear progression, and kids must think of how balance is achieved on different levels of play. Difficulty is increased by using addition across and subtraction down the lines. Here they begin using commutative and associative rules, and this really helps kids in learning multiplication, division and early algebraic thinking down the road. Lighthouse Learning always provides a hint or guide helping you to problem solve, should you get stuck, but it doesn’t give you the answer which promotes independent thinking and awards perseverance.
Coin Problems is the last of the levels, and completing this finishes the story. Filling in the equations using gold doubloons make it fun. You are introduced to completing addition and subtraction problems within the 1000 place value markers. In some of the puzzlers, coins can be swapped out to different places, which adds to the fun. When given options, kids learn about how to add structure to solving problems and this promotes independence.
In summary, Treasure sums is a wonderful app in teaching kids how to think, learn to be flexible in problem solving, and promote fluency in basic addition and subtraction operations. This would be a great game to play round robins with, each kid getting a turn at cracking the puzzler. Strategies in how one came about a solution could be discussed, and would bring about lively discussions. A crafty teacher or parent may be able to extend play using real pirate swag off screen, providing hide and seek clues to locate the puzzle pieces and then compute it.
In Electric Sums, the goal is to help Digit, “a gadget fanatic” and his robot Bobo, fix things around the house. In his super powerful lab, kids solve equations using two different methods: using either a place values method called partitioning or using a number line with a partial partition strategy. By solving the equations, you unlock hints and parts of the storyline.
In the first mode of play, Fix It Digit!, you help Digit make an electric circuit from an equation, by sliding a place value marker to add or subtract – in units of hundreds, tens and ones. Initially the value marker is straight forward with each marker sliding into place, but as you progress the puzzles become more challenging. Through play, kids learn of the relationship between addition and subtraction, and soon will be using both within a “circuit” to help Digit. By establishing place value, kids learn to use strategies to mentally manipulate numbers to solve an equation. And that is what makes math applicable in everyday life. It is what helps you estimate what you can buy, know how many more minutes class is being held, and how much flour you need to help Mom make cookies. By teaching partition strategies, you are enabling kids to be proactive in their lives.
In the second mode, Digit’s Black Out!, Kids are introduced to a number line and go about solving problems by visualizing solutions using a partial partitioning strategy. Jumping up (addition) or hopping down (subtraction) kids can see the effect of change using place values as they get closer to the solution. Here, numbers are also interchanged within the equation, and it begins to introduce the dance of balancing an equation to get an answer.
I cannot say it better than Lighthouse Learning…. “The learning objective of the app is for children to understand and practice general methods for adding and subtracting 3-digit numbers using place value. These electric puzzles are designed to help kids maintain and build their fluency with adding and subtracting within 1000….Number sense and computational skills are built on a firm understanding of place value. In Electric Sums, kids demonstrate a deep understanding of place value beyond algorithms.”
Choosing either Treasure Sums or Electric Sums depends where your kids are in the process of learning. Buying both will help extend the fun and bring a slightly different edge with the content of the two apps. Both are included in a bundle at the app store, and you can also download a trial version of each. Take a look and see what you think. We would love to hear your comments or experiences with using these apps in the classroom.
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play everyday; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.