Shifu Plugo Count is an interactive educational math game. That sounds anything but exciting at first, but it occupies a trendy niche in the field of edutainment with the use of augmented reality. The declared aim of the toy manufacturer Shifu: playfully promote mathematical skills and solution-oriented thinking. The play set costs around 60 euros and - combined with the appropriate app - offers around 250 levels in which children can gradually improve their math skills.

One reads reports about winners of math competitions in schools again and again - however, one often reads that many students in this country are math grudges or lag behind in arithmetic in an international comparison. It is no coincidence that numerous funding programs are dedicated to the MINT area of ​​all things. And now the virus pandemic, which is rampant worldwide, shows how important alternative and innovative teaching methods are. The course for future math skills is set at an early age: namely in childhood. Toys can then help to support children in learning, not only but also in mathematics.

Shifu Plugo Count for learning math

German students are mediocre in math, that is the result of a recent study among fourth graders. Over 300.000 students from 58 countries in different regions have participated in the TIMSS, "Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study"; almost 5.000 students in Germany were also active in solving tasks on the computer. After evaluating the results, one thing is clear: there is room for improvement in an international comparison.

Mathematics as a school subject is often considered sober, dry, boring. It doesn't have to be that way, especially with children. Above all, the basic mathematical skills can be conveyed well and in an entertaining way, also thanks to innovative technologies that teach counting, arithmetic and comparing in a playful way - close to the toy. One of these ideas comes from toy manufacturer Shifu: With Plugo Count, the real world is to be connected to the virtual one in order to arouse interest in math at an early stage - and thus to make learning easier, even in later school age.

Operation is child's play: The number blocks are placed on the counting block, the screen in the background shows what is required. Photo: Volkmann

Operation is child's play: The number blocks are placed on the counting block, the screen in the background shows what is required. Photo: Volkmann

Shifu uses "Augmented Reality", which is still more of a niche in the field of learning. Worlds are supposed to merge using augmented reality. Children act in the real world, with real objects, and thus achieve results that are reflected on the screen. This is how tasks are solved and challenges mastered – in a playful way. With Plugo Count, Shifu focuses primarily on improving mental arithmetic and analytical thinking and thus on basic skills that will also be useful to children years later. The idea of ​​the "Plugo Count" educational toy is aimed at children from the age of five, i.e. at those offspring who start their careers at a secondary school.

AR-Set should playfully interest math

The basic idea behind the toy is simple: children play with accessories, blocks and building blocks in order to make actions visible on the screen. So it's about adding and subtracting, about multiplication and division, namely by children putting digits and arithmetic symbols on a playing piece. The app provides the feedback immediately - it resonates, motivates and is fun. Math shouldn't be boring, it should be rewarding. There are five different games to choose from, which together comprise more than 250 levels. Different game environments can be discovered, different characters moderate the processes.

Various games with different themes are available. Photo: Volkmann

Various games with different themes are available. Photo: Volkmann

It's not primarily about turning kids into math aces. Much more, Shifu Plugo Count is supposed to show that learning math does not automatically mean boredom. Yes, you improve some basic skills, which is beneficial - but it is much more important to lengthen the attention span for mathematical questions in children. This is achieved through the playful use of arithmetic challenges, for which children receive positive feedback directly.

There is also another helpful effect: haptics. Because children actually play with the Shifu Plugo Count math learning toy, i.e. touch the material or interact with stones and components, what they have learned is memorized more efficiently. The toy should be a help, but not a substitute for school work. The aim is always to arouse enthusiasm for learning through play. Incidentally, the age given by the manufacturer is a recommendation: In practice, younger children will also be able to cope with the tasks, especially with a little support. In any case, the app thinks for itself, so to speak, a profile can be created that fits the individual requirements. In this way, it is possible to avoid what is disruptive to learning: failure.

With Shifu Plugo Count, children should experience that learning is connected with positive feedback and that success can be achieved. Sometimes children don't even realize they are learning when they play. At the same time, skills in handling technical aids improve. The app is easy to use, it always becomes clear what you have to do with which task. And there is another advantage: children do not have to sit in front of the learning tablet alone. Shifu Plugo Count can be used cooperatively without any problems, you can solve math problems together with two or even three people. The group dynamics then have an additional positive effect on the learning processes.

The questions are always expanded to include symbolic representations. Volkmann

The questions are always expanded to include symbolic representations. Volkmann

The technical requirements are manageable. Shifu Plugo Count contains the physical components of the AR math game, a tablet or smartphone is required. According to the manufacturer, the Plugo Count is compatible with: iPad 3 and newer, iPad Mini 2 and newer, iPad Air, iPad Pro (except Pro 12 ″), iPhone 6 and newer, Samsung tablets and smartphones (2015 and newer, min. 2 GB RAM) and Lenovo Tablet (2015 and newer, min. 2 GB RAM). The requirements are therefore moderate, the models mentioned are already of an older generation. The package includes a play mat, as well as a counting block with number game pieces and components that reflect the basic arithmetic operations.

According to the tasks, children then have to put the right stones on the "fingers" of the counting block. The camera of the end device placed in the holder recognizes the numbers, arithmetic symbols and their order and playfully reports whether a result was correct. As is so often the case with educational toys, it is one of many supporting measures.


Last updated on 26.01.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API