How I Use It
I teach 2nd grade so my students are perhaps below the target age for this app. However, I have found it to be a great introduction to the whole concept of balancing numbers on either side of an equal sign, such as "5 + 6 = 3 + _", which is taught in 2nd grade. Generally when we work on this concept there are a large handful of students who "get it" for the few days we focus on it but then forget it when we review at different points later in the year. It's one of those concepts that doesn't stick quickly. I use pictures, balance scales, and now DragonBox 5+ to reinforce. I have introduced this app in the fall, around the time that we are working on balancing equations. However, I wait for a few days before making the connection between the 2. I have students work at their own pace on the app. Some breeze through the levels while others need a lot of repetition on the beginning levels. Either way after some practice with both the app and actual math equations we have a class discussion about the similarities between the 2--namely the division between the 2 boxes being the equal sign. We then play a few levels whole class projecting the app on the whiteboard, with students making suggestions on what to do and discussing why. We continually relate this to math equations written on the board. We don't get into anything as complicated as multiplying or dividing both sides in a math equation, but I feel that the object/picture representations in the app are helping to build a good math foundation for concepts coming in future grades. To help students progress further, I also allow students to work together on the app to share strategies and explain next steps to each other.
I like the quick pace of the app and the different levels. The levels get progressively more difficult, but little by little so students are able to feel successful as they progress rather than frustrated. There are few words so it works well for students who struggle with reading. Since the game format is so strong students are engaged and don't really feel that they're "doing math". This tech connection has helped some students who previously didn't understand balancing equations to catch on when we go back to numbers.