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Apps Analysis

By Stefan Dubowski

DragonBox Algebra 5+

Application icon for "DragonBox Algebra 5+" app. The icon is a cartoon character.

With students learning algebra basics (addition, subtraction, equality) as early as Grade 1, it’s almost never too soon to introduce them to an app like this. DragonBox transforms algebra into a compelling and simple game for five-to-eight-year-olds. All the players have to do is move the colourful cards around the screen to isolate the DragonBox, a little mystery box with a star. Over time, numbers and values replace the cards, helping the player learn the operations to isolate “X” on one side of the equation. Younger players will require some assistance, since the instructions, although easy to follow, are word-based.

DEVICE: Apple, Android
SOURCE: Itunes ($6.99); Google Play ($7.89)
RATING: 4+; Everyone

Art Gallery of Ontario

Application icon for "Art Gallery of Ontario" app. The icon is a collection of addition, minus, multiplication and division symbols.

For art-appreciating high school students, there’s nothing better than a trip to the AGO. But when that’s not possible, this app is the next best thing. It provides virtual access to a selection of the gallery’s collections (African, European, Canadian, modern and others) and works (including pieces by Tom Thomson, Claude Monet and James Tissot). If you are able to make the visit in person, tap into additional features such as admission pricing, hours, accessibility details, audio guides and information on upcoming exhibitions. It’s all designed to frame your experience exploring an artistic assembly that includes more than 80,000 pieces.

DEVICE: Apple; Android
SOURCE: iTunes; Google Play (free)
RATING: 12+; Everyone

Cursive Writing Wizard

Application icon for "Cursive Writing Wizard" app. The icon is an illustrated rocket taking off.

The use of tech devices may be changing the way we communicate, but this doesn’t mean that cursive writing isn’t still a valuable tool for conveying ideas. This app is one way for your cursive-curious students to learn the art of good penmanship through step-by-step instructions and tracing activities. Developed for children as young as six but useful for older students, too, options include a number of fonts (such as Zaner-Bloser, D’Nealian and Handwriting Without Tears), adjustable sizing to suit a range of hand-eye co-ordination levels, as well as a left-hand mode. Adults can create PDF worksheets — so when students are ready, they can put pen to paper.

DEVICE: Apple; Android
SOURCE: iTunes ($6.99); Google Play ($4.99)
RATING: 4+; Everyone