Nubble! and Nubble! Express
How the publisher describes it:
“Nubble! is the software version of the maths boardgame, also known as Number Quest. Summary of the Rules Players take turns to throw four dice and, using the numbers thrown, generate a whole number between 1 and 100.”
Review by Sue Johnston-WilderOlivia Johnston-WilderAlastair Johnston-WilderKatie
“It made my brain develop a lot since I have played the game”
One approach to arithmetic is that ‘in order to practise walking you start learning to run’; in other words you change the focus of the activity. The advantages of this lie deep in the way children naturally learn. Sometimes you find a piece of software that adopts this approach and that you can heartily recommend. Nubble! is one such.
Nubble! started life as a board game and was originally called Number Quest. Virtual Image has worked with the inventors of the board game to produce a high quality interactive version.
The object of the game is to lay a path made of hexagons from bottom left to top right (1 to 100), gaining as many points as possible in the process. The interactive version of Nubble! may be played with 1, 2, 3 or 4 players. One player can play solo or against the computer, timed or untimed. The difficulty can be adjusted to easy, middling or hard. There is a ‘cheat chart’ which you can use to help with multiplication sums when you are stuck and this enables children with a wide range of calculating experience and speed to take part.
As you would hope from a game which develops arithmetic skills and strategy, the scoring is complex, but accessible. You score a Nubble! when you complete a triangle of three adjacent hexagons, and this results in one hundred extra points. You score a double Nubble! when you complete the triangle with a prime number included - prime numbers are written in silver hexagons. A Double Nubble! scores two hundred extra points.
Olivia is 8. Her preferred strategy is to play against the computer with the timer on because she can go for the lower numbers and get more Nubble!s and double Nubble!s ‘because they are more obvious’. She says ‘It is always possible to get the lower numbers except 19 and 41. These are difficult ones. Sometimes you make silly mistakes - if you do you lose your turn.’
Alastair (age 11) found some of the colours made it difficult to read the numbers inside them. He says ‘This is not so important here because the numbers are in order but software developers should think about these things.’
Both children think that Nubble! is worth more than £15 because it is fun and they believe it improves their mathematics. They compare it favourably with their favourite software game ‘The Mathematical Journey of the Zoombinis’.
The children have played on Nubble! a lot. For them, it is a different way of doing maths from the ways they have seen before. They have not noticed how many calculations they have done while playing and that is what I meant about changing the focus.
Sue, Olivia and Alastair Johnston-Wilder
Nubble! and Nubble! Express
What fun! This program is easy to use and will engage even the most reticent thinker in manipulating numbers to get the best score. I have used it with students of different abilities in the classroom either as an interactive whiteboard activity, in small groups or individually. Every way has been a success. The Express version has allowed even those who find number work difficult to complete a game within a reasonable period of time so there is no chance to get bored. The Express version has also been used as a starter and plenary, students using the numbers to find what alternative answers there are and which would give the best score.
This is what one of my students has to say:
My name is: Katie.
What I thought about the game: I found it really enjoyable to play, I mainly played against the computer, and won. It's a really marvellous game to play.
How it has helped me: It helps me to use different multiplication (e.g 4 2 3, you could do 4+3=7+2=9 it is a great way to learn.) and made my brain develop a lot since I have played the game.
Katie is a Y9 special needs pupil who is operating at the age of a seven year old, she does not like working independently - except on Nubble! She asks for it every lesson.
What is the game and how do you get a Nubble? The Express game consist of up to four players rolling three five sided dice to generate whole numbers between 1 and 25 using all four operations and brackets with the aim to cross the board from bottom left to top right. (Other versions have four dice and numbers up to 100). Points for right answers are awarded according to the position of the chosen answer counter on the board. Points range from 10 for 1 to 6 up to 200 points for 23, 24 or 25. In addition there are 50 points for completing a triangle of numbers and this is doubled if the triangle with is completed with a prime number.
As players become more experienced they get more proficient at finding alternative combinations of numbers to make the higher scoring numbers or to block an opponent. Thinking skills are developed with respect to manipulating numbers and strategies, and, if used as a team game, cooperation. There is also the option to turn on the timer, so once the skills are mastered there is still a challenge to be met. There are three difficulty levels and the option to play solo or against the computer, making it ideal for a single user either at home or school.
Loading the program caused no problems and the instructions were easy to follow although, as a teacher, I would like to be able to print out a set of the rules to help users who find reading difficult. Also, students with vision problems would appreciate not having to read yellow text on a dark blue background. It is possible to make a copy using Print Screen, but this will have a blue background.
This is the only downside in what is a really good resource and the price represents really good value both for school and home use, even at the single user price.
Sue Johnston-Wilder • & Olivia Johnston-Wilder • & Alastair Johnston-Wilder • & Katie •
Publisher: Virtual Image Publishing Ltd (2005)