Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dragonistics Data Cards Review

We received a copy of Dragonistics Data Cards to review for Academics' Choice Awards. It is a card game made by Statistics Learning Centre of New Zealand that teachers and parents can use to teach statistics and play mathematical games. They can be used in a school setting or at home. We are homeschoolers and used it for categorical and numerical math lessons.

Dragonistics Data Cards comes with 240 cards and 56 Attribute cards, enough for a whole classroom. Students learn statistical concepts by sorting and organizing the cards. Each card has a unique dragon on it, with a name, age, gender, strength, height, type of breath, color, behavior, and number of horns. The cards are beautifully illustrated. Not all 240 cards have different dragon images, there are a couple different images for the dragons, but they all have different statistics. We added an extra group by saying the dragons who look the same come from the same family.

The cards come in a small box with a magnetic closure. The one main flaw I see with this box is that the cards are small and glossy and can very easily slide out of the box if it's held on its side or upside down. Providing small plastic card bags or a tuck box would have prevented this. Luckily we own many games and had bags to spare. Otherwise, the box is sturdy and easy for the kids to access on their own. 

We were provided with a few printed copies of their educational materials. No set of rules were included in the game box, but their teaching resources are free on the website. You can simply download and print them as they are needed.

The set of Attribute cards can be used by students to sort their cards. There are 4 of each card, and they include: All Different, Gender, Gender and Color, Color, Breath, Breath and Behavior, Behavior, Height, Age, Age (Century), Strength, Horns, Name Order, Name Length. 

You can use whichever Attribute card you want for lessons or games. We shuffled them up, chose one at random, and gave each child six Dragon cards. They had to sort the cards into appropriate piles. We did this for practice, before starting to use the cards for lessons. When we use them for lessons, I choose which Attribute and Dragon cards we use. My children occasionally work together, but more often they work separately. These cards work equally well in both cases. In a classroom setting, a group of children could play games to see who can sort their cards the fastest or make the most sets of pairs. Below are a few examples of how the cards can be grouped.

Grouped by Gender.

Grouped by type of Breath.

Grouped by Age.

Grouped by Height.

Two of the games that can be played with Dragonistics Data Cards are called Dragon Twins and Speed Sorting. The directions are in the free resources section. The rules are pretty straight forward and can be played with children as young as four.

In Dragon Twins you can play with 2 to 4 players and the object of the game is to find things that are the same. You use both the Attribute cards and the Dragon cards. Set up the Attribute cards and place them face up in front of the players. Then place the Dragon cards face down in a pile in the middle. Your aim is to collect the most Attribute cards. The first player draws two Dragon cards and finds an attribute that they have in common. When the Attribute is found, that player can pick up the matching Attribute card from the pile or from another player. If no match can be found, the player can choose the All Different Attribute card. The Dragon cards are then placed in the discard pile. The game ends when there are no Attribute cards left in the pool and the player with the most Attribute cards wins.

Speed Sorting can be played with 2 to 4 or more players. With up to 4 players, you can use the Attribute cards and 40 Dragon cards. With a larger group, you can use up to 240 Dragon cards. You'll use the Dragon cards for ordering or sorting. Choose which Attributes you want to use, shuffle and place them face-down in a pile. For sorting you can use: color, gender, behavior, or breath. And for ordering, you can use height, age, strength, name order (alphabetically), or number of horns. Shuffle the Dragon cards and each player will choose three cards, placed face-up in front of them. The object of the game is to be the first to collect 10 Dragon cards. The first player turns over the top Attribute card and reads it out loud, then the players try to sort or order their cards as quickly as possible. When the cards are checked, the player who completed their set the fastest is given a new Dragon card from the pile. If they are incorrect, they lose a Dragon card, to a minimum of three. The next player then takes their turn turning over the top Attribute card and reading it. When the pile of Attribute cards are used up, shuffle them and place them face-down and draw from the top. The winner is the first player to 10 Dragon cards. Younger players can play to a smaller number of cards.

We really enjoyed using the Dragonistics Data Cards. We mainly used them to play the games at the end of math lessons, but we also used them for fun. The cards are small enough that they store easily for take-and-go lessons at the park or on the road. My kids really like the dragon illustrations and have fun sorting the cards. The dragon theme really drew them in. As a parent and teacher, I love that the cards can be used for educational purposes while still being an enjoyable game.

I would recommend Dragonistics Data Cards to families that want to improve math skills at home and teachers who want to use them for math lessons. Even if you are using them just to play the games, children are learning math while they play. While there were only rules to use them for two games, I know we will find other ways to play and learn with them. We look forward to printing new material from the website to see what other activities we can use them with.
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