Sum! - A Cute and Brilliant Approach to Introducing Early Math Concepts

Find a combination of two or more numbers that would make the number 10.

Find a combination of two or more numbers that would make the number 10.

I’m sure by now most of you would have tried plenty of number apps, from the ones that introduce kids to numbers to ones about counting and simple addition. Well, that was how I felt earlier today — thinking that I’ve seen it all. Keeping an open mind really is essential for discovering new approaches to early math for kids.

Sum! is what this brilliant app is called. Designed by Mac Funamizu, it features 15 cute characters representing the numbers from 1 to 15. Your main task is to find a way to make the number 10 enough times — 10 times, to be exact. If you can, try to beat your best time doing it.

Make the Number 10

When you start the game, you will see four columns. Each column may contain a number, which you can drag on top of another to create a bigger sum. For example, four plus two equals six. Your task is to create the number 10.

If the number you just created is not 10, you can try different combinations. You can either add another number or combine the other numbers. The game also continues providing new numbers until the sum of all numbers on screen has reached 15. If you still haven’t created the number 10, you can try slicing the numbers.

When you slice a number, you are essentially undoing your previous addition. To slice a number, simply swipe downwards on it. Since the number will split into two, you need to make sure that at least one column is available.

By performing all these actions, you’re actually learning the basics of addition and subtraction. Because these numbers are shown as circles with appropriate sizes, it helps you to understand a number’s value in context and in relation with other numbers.

To learn more about these numbers, you can visit their individual profile screens. You will learn that each number has a different personality. You’ll also learn how to write and pronounce the numbers in English and Japanese. If you end up liking them, you may want to write a review to the developer and suggest names for these cute characters.

Each of these cute characters has a unique personality. Learn more from their individual profile screens.

Each of these cute characters has a unique personality. Learn more from their individual profile screens.

Parents Need to Know

Sum! is a great way for kids ages 4+ to learn about basic math concepts, such as addition and forming bigger numbers. Not only would they learn how to make the number 10, but they would also learn that combining other numbers would create a bigger number, which is the basic of addition. By slicing numbers, they will learn the other way around: how a number is composed of two smaller numbers.

You can even learn how halving works. If you slice an even number right in the middle, you get two equal numbers which are its halves. If your slice it slightly angled, you may get two different numbers instead. So, it’s another thing that kids can learn through experimenting with this app.

The app works great without any internet connection. It doesn’t have any third-party ads, in-app purchases, or links to social networks. Sum! includes an option to change the pronunciation of numbers in their profile screens from Japanese to English. It defaults to Japanese, so don’t be surprised if you think of it as a Japanese-only app to begin with. Other than the way the narrator pronounces the numbers, everything else in the app is available in English.

The game has five additional characters, from 11 to 15, that you unlock by trying out different combinations.

The game has five additional characters, from 11 to 15, that you unlock by trying out different combinations.

Things I Like

I always appreciate a math game that offers multiple possibilities for solving a challenge. After all, there’s always plenty of ways to solve a math problem in the real world. But, instead of showing all possible numbers to make the number 10, it shows only a maximum of four at a time. This constraints help make the game a thinker’s game.

Obviously, the easiest way to make a number is to find two number combinations that directly form it. But, things would get a bit more difficult when you need to find a three number combination to solve it. Or to make matter worse, even as an adult, you don’t see any combination among the four numbers that would solve the challenge.

If you’re stuck in such situation, I’d suggest you to add up the numbers slowly while freeing up the slots. Later on, you can always slice up the bigger numbers to make up the combinations you’re looking for. Based on my experience, the biggest number that you can create is 15. And, you can definitely move your way down from it to reach the number 10.

Sum! allows you to experiment almost endlessly. You can slice up the numbers and try out different combinations until you get the number you’re looking for. The app doesn’t punish you for getting it wrong multiple times. It’s actually a great approach for kids to learn math on their own.

I also like the cute characters and the Japanese language support. The characters, which are sized according to their value, make it easy for kids to understand a number’s value. The profile screens also provide a fun way to learn about each number’s unique personality. Which one is your favorite number? Have you seen what the numbers 11 to 15 look like?

Before you slice a number, make sure that there is at least one open slot.

Before you slice a number, make sure that there is at least one open slot.

Conclusion

I’ve seen many math apps and games throughout the years, and I think Sum! is the cutest and perhaps one of the most brilliant approaches to introducing basic math concepts — such as counting, addition, even and odd numbers, halving a number — while only involving numbers from 1 to 10. Using cute characters help to engage kids to learn. My kids even make up stories about what would happen when the big number six is added to the tiny number one. It’s a fun way for kids to play, experiment, and learn math concepts.

Get Sum! on the App Store: iPad

App was provided for our honest review.