Math Wizards and The Amazing Airships from Osmo
Osmo - Math Wizard and The Amazing Airships (Osmo $59.99, game only. Requires Osmo stand sold separately or bundled with the game for $98.)
I've long been a fan of using manipulatives to help teach math concepts. My mom, a 1st and second grade teacher, used chocolate kisses to help my sister get the hang of subtraction: She would have Stephanie count the pieces, and then they would eat one, and then count again! Making concepts tangible (and adding a spoonful of sugar) can help make learning easier and more fun.
In the new Math Wizards learning games from Osmo, manipulatives are used similarly and though there was no sugar, our testers found the packages engaging and one might even say fascinating.
The favorite was Math Wizards and The Amazing Airships. Here you construct balloons to transport crates. You have to have the right number of balloons to lift the weight of the airship plus the crates. Balloons come in various sizes, and so does the cargo, so each "mission" requires evaluation and virtual building.
The technology that brings the children's creations to life as animated balloons on an iPad is really remarkable. As with all Osmo games, a mirrored periscope goes over the camera lens after the iPad is set in the stand. This allows the iPad to see what is on the table in front of it.
The set comes in a substantial bookshelf box that holds the base and pieces used to create the airships. Our testers couldn't get enough of the game mechanic: You place the balloons on the base, and then various sized boxes that represent the ship's hull and crates. As you place items on the base they show up on the iPad. If the balloon has enough lift, meaning there is an equivalency between the hull and crates on one hand, and the balloon on the other, it animates with a reward of a flight.
As you might expect, there are often multiple ways to solve the puzzle, leading to opportunities to explore and experiment.
In a similar vein, Osmo's Math Wizard and the Secrets of Dragons, uses the mythological beasts as the starting point for counting and measuring,