App review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2015

# Little Digits

Explore numbers with simple finger counting for the 21st century

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Pre-K–K
Subjects & Skills
Math

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Pros: Interface is super simple; activities tap into and add to something kids already do naturally.

Cons: Interaction is mostly exploration-based but could still benefit from some more purposeful guidance.

Bottom Line: Enhance and reinforce kids' natural inclination to count on their fingers with free exploration; add additional outside supports to increase learning potential.

Interaction with this app is a bit different than what kids might be used to. Give them a brief intro on how to touch the screen with some or all of their fingers. Let them freely explore as they get the hang of it and associate the number of fingers they're using with the number they see and hear. Some kids might get it on their own, while others may need help; to enhance learning potential for the addition and subtraction pieces, help them be cognizant and purposeful about what they're doing. Run through a few examples together, and then let kids explore on their own. The individual tactical interaction is important here; this is a one device, one kid app. There is no data collection; interaction is all about exploration, not assessment. Teachers can reinforce learning by counting on fingers together without the screen, or working on addition and subtraction in other real-life contexts (e.g., counting objects like beads or blocks, or figuring out how many napkins to set out for snack).

Little Digits is a simple tool for helping kids learn key counting skills. Start by watching a simple demo video of how to interact with Little Digits. Then, choose one of three play modes. "123" depends entirely on kids' input as it shows how many fingers kids put on the screen, with a silly number character and a voice saying the name of the number. Addition and subtraction games present simple equations (e.g., 2 + 3 = ? or 7 – 2 = ?), and kids touch the screen with the correct number of fingers to successfully complete the equation and generate a new one. Tap on the microphone to record your own voice saying the number names.

Little Digits has a clean, simple design and kid-friendly, engaging number characters. The activities add an extra piece to the classic finger counting strategy by drawing connections between finger counting and numbers. That is, kids can associate the number of fingers with visual (written numeral) and auditory (number name) information. This makes Little Digits great for enhanced free number exploration. Yet, to increase learning potential, it would be nice to see some additional guidance –- especially with the subtraction equations, which will likely be the most challenging for the age set likely to be interested in this app. Kids can easily continue to come across the right number of fingers to complete an equation entirely by accident, without understanding the underlying concept. A more purposeful path could help them better understand what they're doing. For example, with 7 – 2 = ?, have kids start by touching the screen with seven fingers, then let them count as they take away two and then count what they have left. Otherwise, this is fun for pure and simple finger counting gymnastics.

##### Engagement

This is a really neat way to interact with a screen: It's almost like magic to watch the app know exactly how many fingers kids are using. The design is simple and appealing, with numbers represented by silly, colorful characters.

##### Pedagogy

Activities encourage finger counting, addition, and subtraction and add an important visual and auditory connection between the number of fingers and the corresponding number.

##### Support

There is a bare-bones video tutorial that demonstrates how to interact with the app. Some kids may need extra help, especially for the addition and subtraction game. There's no data collection, feedback, or learning extensions.

Common Sense reviewer
Mieke VanderBorght Researcher

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