Help Preschoolers Learn Math Skills in the Number Neighborhood

A few years ago my son and I fell in love with the brilliantly designed Alien Buddies from Artgig Apps. Now the team has done it again with the beautiful and varied app Drive About: Number Neighborhood.

Number Neighborhood is a collection of mini games that teach different mathematical skills from simple number recognition and shape matching to counting and equal sums. The games are all linked together by their surrounding neighborhood. On loading the app your child selects the game they would like to begin with. Once they have finished with it, they exit into the neighborhood where they can use a variety of different vehicles to travel between the games. A car travels along the road, a boat on the water, a rocket up into space, etc. As they travel children can interact with the area: popping balloons, blowing away leaves by the roadside, and making flowers grow. The vehicle noises are made by people rather than sound effects so as the boat chugs along in the water we hear someone quietly chanting “blub blub blub” making the atmosphere distinctly cute and fun.

There are nine games located around the neighborhood:

• Feed a whale a given number of green kelp by using a slingshot to fire pieces into his mouth
• Decorate cookies by matching different shaped toppings to the spaces, then feed them to hungry animals
• Help a yak snowboard down a hill and hit each number post in sequence
• Paint by numbers
• Balance numbered animals on a seesaw to make equal sums (for example two small mice on one side to a single large squirrel on the other)
• Stack numbered blocks in order to build an apartment complex
• Tap sea pickles labelled with a given number before they vanish back into their burrows
• Trace numbers in the sky
• Vacuum up trash in space, making sure to find the correct number of items

Each game is well thought out and easy to play. There are no ads, links out, or in-app purchases available making the game a safe environment for even the youngest players.

There are naturally a few issues, the biggest one for me being that the game has no difficulty setting. I would love to see a parent screen where I can individually tailor each game to my child’s abilities. The stacking game for example begins at number one and asks children to build from there in groups of five and only counts as high as 20, not much of a challenge to my 4-year-old. Being able to set that game to begin from a different number (say 20) would really increase its flexibility and help slightly older kids practice bigger numbers in preparation for starting school.

Another area that could be improved is language support. The game can currently run in English, Spanish, French, Russian, and Portuguese; however the language cannot be switched within the game. The game’s language is determined by the device’s language master setting alone. Being able to switch on different languages within the game would again increase its flexibility, allowing it to also be used to help children in the process of learning a new language. Even adults could use it to practice.

Right now this is a beautiful, elegantly designed game and one that my son has really been enjoying playing. He’s even been choosing it over watching Power Rangers: Samurai on Netflix, and that says a lot about just how fun these mini games are. With a few small tweaks and additions this could become an even more expansive and useful learning tool for children right up to Kindergarten, but for now if you have preschoolers Drive About: Number Neighborhood is a game that should absolutely join your home learning line-up.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.