The same general idea worked when it came to my son's Lego's! It was a great way to work on patterns and following directions! I would draw a pattern on paper for him to copy and recreate with his Legos. It not only helped with his color recognition, but his problem solving skills, fine motor skills and he didn't even know he was doing math!!
While the newer method does require computer access for every child, most schools now have that capability. As children do more hands-on learning on computers and less in books, these programs are capable of reaching them on a level they can understand.
Some have a time limit to complete tasks, much like a game. If the math problems are not completed in time, a buzzer sounds indicating that they are out of time. This raises the competitive level from simply completing tasks to competing for how quickly they can do it, and do it correctly.
The parent's role in their child's math development is very important and should start as young as possible. Teaching young children how to count, add and subtract numbers in their head without pencil and paper can stimulate the brain to think mathematically. Parent s can start the process by teaching children how to count from one to one hundred. Teaching children how to mentally figure out math problems should also be part of this process.