Euclid’s Elements

My teaching style tends to rely quite a bit on the application of concepts first, and then filling in the details as we go. It seems to fit more naturally to the pattern of how people learn. I also try to give lessons a context to occur in. Games work well for this. If mental exercises become a game, then there is suddenly a powerful incentive to do them.

A few months ago, I stumbled onto successfully introducing my boys to algebra through an iPod app. My six year old especially, now has a good understanding of the basic principles involved. I am confident that when we get to seriously apply this knowledge some years down the track, it will all run uncommonly smoothly.

Following up on this success, we recently tried our hands at geometry. A friend of mine described geometry as ‘the fun side of maths,’ and I tend to agree with her. Breaking the world down into simple shapes makes it such a neat place. This is a commonality it shares with mapping.

The app we were playing with is called Elements, by DragonBox. Once I bought it, I thought it was probably a bit much for a six and a three year old, but they had seen that there was a new screen game, and there was no going back.

Elements Osgard the Monster

What I especially like about this game is that all the ideas involved are defined either by colours or symbols. There is no need for a child to understand degrees of a circle, add numbers together, write numbers down, read, or even count past four. It is purely conceptual.

The game begins by tracing around a couple of triangles. Things become increasingly harder from there. At the end of each level (there are seven of them), you get to fight an impossible to lose battle against evil spiders before finally killing off Osgard the Monster and freeing your magical tower through the power of geometry. This is all done to tension filled music, and is more important than it first appears.

There is about 120 puzzles. It took a couple of weeks and a bit of help for my six year old to get to the very end. After that, we reset it, and he then worked through all the problems by himself. I did not help him at all the second time around, and he finished it in three days.

My three year old runs out about three quarters of the way through. He can move circle radii around, and understands isosceles and equilateral triangles. He struggles with the idea of corresponding angles, though, and so has trouble defining a parallelogram or rhombus. Still, I am not complaining. It is a great achievement for a guy who cannot count past ten and technically has not started school yet.

Elements 2nd last puzzle

This picture is one of the last puzzles. The idea is to demonstrate that the shape in the upper right quadrant of the screen is a square. To do that, my six year old had to understand that the radii of same sized circles is a constant, define parallel lines, show that opposite angles of intersecting lines are the same, understand and use the side lengths of isosceles and equilateral triangles to demonstrate the length and angles of adjacent shapes, have a clear understanding of corresponding angles, and use right angles. There is a lot going on here.

They put so much energy into learning things which are far beyond what is expected of them in such a short period of time, I was very curious as to exactly what was the motivating factor. I asked them what they liked about this game. Both boys gave the same answer. ‘Fighting the monsters.’

About Blokeschool

I am a homeschooling dad with a wife and two boys. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, so I feel compelled to write it all down. In my spare time, I work as a manager for the local health district, drink too much coffee, and am an overenthusiastic martial artist.
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10 Responses to Euclid’s Elements

  1. ofamily2014 says:

    What a great looking game I can see my little boy loving something like that. At the moment he is all about Monsters and Space

  2. amandasmills says:

    WE LOVE Dragonbox 5+ and 12+ Algebra – I am so excited to hear of something new from them! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I was so delighted to find that you had linked up again:) I totally agree with your comment that turning learning into a game is a great motivator!
    I apologise for the delayed reply – I have just had one of those super busy home ed weeks where I still appear to be chasing my tail!
    It is link up time again already but it is open until Monday if you fancy it. I know a lot of UK HE people are enjoying reading about your adventures:)

    • Blokeschool says:

      Hi Prudence. Thanks for the link up. They are just great.
      In regards to games, kids just can’t help themselves but to turn everything into play. It just seems the logical foundation to build education onto.

  4. Pingback: Home Education Blog Link Up - Adventures in Homeschool

  5. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for this review, we ended up buying both apps for their grandmother’s ipad. As we don’t have one ourselves, the kids ended up making real-life versions using magnatiles, pretending to put monsters in triangles and so on, or using big squares to be the algebra cards. Such great games!

    • Blokeschool says:

      It’s funny your kids do that. My boys also their own paper versions of the game, and use details in otherwise unrelated games they make up. I love these apps. They really successfully grab the imagination.

  6. Pingback: App Recommend – Dragon Box Elements | Nature in the City

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