Tam & Tao in Numberland is an iPad app which teaches the Montessori method of learning math in a way that is creative and engaging. Numbers one to ten are taught as you visit Numberland, a series of landscapes where there is lots to touch and interact with. Your hosts are twins Tam and Tao, and tapping them will bring you to other pages to learn the numbers in more depth, including tracing the number as well as having a chance to draw it freehand. A blank drawing page is included, as well as the classic Montessori counting exercise of putting the correct number of spindles in each numbered box.
I like Tam & Tao's ability to mix some Montessori elements with something so fun and creative to interact with. Every page is unique and beautifully illustrated, with themes including a jungle, a city, and an ocean.
There is a lot to tap on here, including hidden animations, but I do think the interactivity could have gone a bit further. Each page has clusters of objects, all of which have the same number that is being illustrated, such as “four trees,” “four rabbits,” or “four snowballs.” I would like to be able to count these objects individually, with the narration counting along as well. There is a lot to look at in these pages, including fish and sharks swimming as well as birds or bats flying, but their quick movements make it difficult to count them as they go by, and I wish they would slow down or stop if tapped. My son’s favorite page is number nine - exploring a cave - an environment I have not seen before in any other app. He loves the “nine-eyed monster” and taps over and over again, but the monster was never on the screen long enough to count the eyes or for my son to see that he had nine teeth as well.
I appreciate the choice to include zero here as well - a number that is many times overlooked. This number page is space-themed, and my son loved to touch the stars until all he has left is zero, a very engaging way to teach this concept, but I wish the number ten was also represented, and I wonder if the number zero coming after nine in the sequence can be confusing to kids new to numbers. All in all, a good experience from this interesting and educational application.