5 April 2016 — by Fabio Guaricci




5 April 2016 — by Fabio Guaricci

Nowadays we can find increasingly how gamification or video game inspired thinking can be integrated in non-digital learning, even in wooden toys design. For example, to explore basic arithmetic, among other knowledge, will try to maximize, through play, the interest of learners.

Gamification in learning is a new strategy based on gaming concept to influence, engage and motivate children to learn.

The craft of deriving all the fun and addicting elements found in games and applying them to real-world or productive activities.

Yu-kai Chou

SumBlox is a wooden toy designed by David Skaggs to help a kid with disruption in the early learning education owing to his short attention span.

He started to think in a game that could help the kid see and apply new concepts while reinforcing the old ones. He observed that using learning games from cards to iPad games the kid started showing improvement but in the case of the math games for the iPad weren’t designed to hold the child attention.

We needed a game that could keep his attention
long enough to learn, grow and make real progress.

David Skaggs

This is how SumBlox born, a math teaching toy that takes learning maths to a whole new level.
These carved wooden number blocks help children to learn through play, develop the understanding of numbers value, problem-solving and also develop their imagination and basic motor skills.

SumBlox is like a new version of the Cuisenaire Rods. It removes the colors and adds the symbolic numbers, providing an additional logical dimension to the design. Also it is inspired in video game thinking, with the aim of motivate kids to learn, engage with challenges and develop unique problem solving skills.

 These wooden number blocks, are shaped like digits which heights correspond to their number value, creating a playful way for children to explore basic arithmetic. They offer a systematic world of patterns and rules but also, can be used like wooden blocks to create and build.

Sumblox provides children to play with basic arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, fractions and multiplications.

When higher is the number, the taller is the block, this allows kids to learn in an intuitive way the value and symbol of each number at the same time. Therefore, as kids build with the wooden number blocks, they see that when numbers are combined one above another, they can equal the value and the size of other numbers. Fractions become easier by understanding the denominator. Also number relationships and abstract math concepts come alive and become visible and tangible.


You can set different levels of difficulty according on the age or the learning moment of each kid, as for example, decreasing the number of blocks to build towers with the same amount. Sumblox also allows kids to play alone or with friends, racing each other, building together and so on..

So, as we can see while playing with Sumblox, through exploration and play, kids can feel comfortable to make mistakes, realize and correct them. Moreover, this wooden toy allows playing in a creative way: kids can feel free to play and build the tallest tower, a bridge, a cozy house or a big castle, measure objects they find around and many more..

And this freedom allows kids to increase their self-confidence and self-driven learning, while creating and exploring basic arithmetic.