The market for educational apps for kids is booming as developers seek to cash in on parents’ growing desire to make sure screen time is learning time. Overwhelmed by the choice? We’ve asked parents for their favourite tried and tested math apps to cut through the iTunes and Google Play jungle.
Maths was front page news this week with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan promising tough new standards for primary school maths: under new plans all 11 year olds will be expected to know their times tables by heart, handle long division and complex multiplication. England currently ranks 26th in the world for maths, trailing behind many of our European neighbours. It may well be time to up our collective game, but it’s not exactly a subject that many of us (kids and parents alike) want to do more of once school is out.
We still have some way to go to dent China’s mathematical supremacy, but these maths apps might just keep them off Minecraft and on multiplication just that little bit longer.
This is a great fun introduction to simple maths for younger children, hardly surprising when you consider it’s the new release from the great Duck Duck Moose stable: we’ve lost track of the awards they’ve won for their range of excellent educational (and playtime) apps for pre-schoolers.
Five multi-level activities cover the EYFS and KS1 basics of numeracy (sequences, counting, addition, subtraction) along with simple geometry games, slick graphics and suitable annoying background music, which, mercifully, can be switched off.
Maths 3-5 and 4-6
Best for: Pre-school, Reception and KS1
Available on iPhone/iPad (£16.99 – £23 for all topics)
Imaginatively-named they are not, but these age-grouped apps developed by non profit organisation One Billion have been downloaded over 1 million times across the world and are now in fifty languages. In studies by the University of Nottingham, some children advanced their maths ability by 18 months in just six weeks of using the apps, which contain more than 100 structured activities across 10 topics. Children are guided through the exercises very clearly, meaning some hands-off screen time for parents too.
The downside? These are expensive as far as kids apps go, but there is a load of tried and tested content here to keep kids learning and all of the profits from the app sales are used to help children in developing countries.
Mr Thorne’s Maths Universe
Best for: KS1, KS2
Available on iPhone/iPad (£3.99 for the compilation of 4, available as separate apps from £1.49)
Created by London school teacher and spectacled YouTube sensation, Christopher Thorne, this compilation of planet-themed apps brings together all the calculation basics (with decimals and fractions) in one compilation app package. With stylish clean graphics, this is simple and intuitive to use, and has three difficulty settings and more than 50 mental maths tests per app. Players have to find all the space stations to unlock the final challenge. A great way to get any space-mad kids settled in for some serious subtraction.
Percy Parker – Sing Your Times Tables
Best for: KS1, KS2
Available on iPhone/iPad (79p/£1.49)
Those with strong aesthetic sensibilities, avert your eyes. Gloriously cheesy, this app takes the pain out of learning times tables but teaching them through a series of catchy songs. Please don’t blame us, though, when you find yourself singing them in the shower. Now used in many schools, parents are really evangelical about this and the connected Amazon/iTunes songs to download. It may be the easiest way to get children engaged in multiplication – so often a big maths sticking point.
Really can’t face singing with Percy? Try the much more refined Cloud Click for times tables instead.
Introductions are probably unnecessary here: Doodle Maths is the UK’s best-selling maths app and is firmly teacher (and parent) approved. Designed specifically around Years 3-6 of the National Curriculum, it boasts an adaptive learning system that adjusts itself to your child’s level, allowing them to focus and build on weaker areas.
If 6000 questions covering the entire curriculum weren’t enough, it’s even clever enough to ‘lock’ children out of the games mode if they haven’t done their designated day’s learning. And, as of mid-January 2015, it’s now available on Android and Kindle Fire too.
Tell us – what have we missed? Do you have any of the apps above and what do you think of them?