Favorite math apps for kids

If there’s anything kids forget over the summer, it’s math. These great apps can help.

Keep kids learning all summer

Studies show that students usually have to relearn four to six weeks of classwork at the beginning of every school year. And if there’s anything kids forget, it’s math.

With your trusty iPad and a few great apps you can fight off summer brain drain. Stop kids' calculation powers from becoming casualties with these favorites.

Math Evolve

Math Evolve gives kids a mission: use their math skills to protect the universe and evolve to face the challenge of the alien hordes. Hostile creatures, space debris, and numbers stream towards the player’s ship. The goal is to shoot or avoid bad stuff while hitting numbers to create correct equations. The best thing about Zephyr Games’ app is that it doesn’t feel high-pressure—the music is epic instead of frantic and there are different ways to succeed. You can also adjust the game speed before starting or use practice mode to work on skills like multiplication tables. Kids who don’t usually like math may be inspired by the story to try their hand at problems they would otherwise avoid.

More info | Price: $2.

Monkey Math School Sunshine

Practice writing numbers in the sand, recognizing patterns, and doing simple math problems with the help of a silly and encouraging monkey. Preschool and kindergarten kids learn to quickly recognize sets and practice putting numbers in order by, among other things, helping a baby turtle reach the sea. Best of all (according to my 4 year old) is that correct answers win prizes for the player’s aquarium. My daughter finds this highly motivating; her one complaint is that the aquarium fills up too fast—there’s a limit on how many fish, plants, and castles can decorate it.

More info | Price: $2.

BrainPOP Featured Movie by BrainPOP

BrainPOP offers some of the best educational content around. Yes, this includes math, but that’s only one topic among many, including arts and music, science, history, health, social studies, and more. Daily videos feature straight-man Tim and the wise-cracking robot Moby. (Moby only beeps, but you know those beeps are wise cracks.) Videos are funny, age-appropriate and offer impressively accessible explanations about a wide array of topics. You will get your money’s worth if you pay for this service—the video library is deep. Younger kids (officially “kindergarten through 3rd grade”) may enjoy BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week. Try out the free version of the apps to see what your elementary-school child prefers.

More info | Price: free version; yearly subscription with unlimited movies is $99.

Math Bingo

It’s a simple concept: Quickly pick the right answer to a math problem, get five right answers in a row, and then yell “Bingo!” Practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, or all four at once with this app from Set the level to easy, medium, or hard. Whenever you win, you earn a cute little Bingo bug to play with. Tip your iPad to watch it bop around. (My children would like me to emphasize that Bingo bugs are what makes this app special.) Kids will enjoy this game while increasing their speed and math fluency.

More info | Price: $1.

Wild Kratts Creature Math

In this app, based on the popular PBS Kids Wild Kratts show, kids create a creature habitat. To populate their land with animals, they must answer addition and subtraction problems to earn homes and food objects. The app provides many visual supports, including a number line and interactive objects, to help players find the answer. Kids earn creature badges and are encouraged as they go along by the TV show's characters. Caring for the animals provides great motivation—particularly for kids already fond of the infinite variety of apps that let you create virtual pet hotels and pet shops. As a bonus, the game is filled with wildlife facts and animations.

More info | Price: $2.

Park Math

Duck Duck Moose makes great apps for little kids and Park Math is no exception. The animations are cute and the simple interactions appealing: subtract numbers as apples fall from a tree, help mice balance on a seesaw by distributing numbers evenly, feed a hippo the correct number of objects, and more. Parents steeled for the typically grating music that accompanies kids apps will also be pleased by gentle cello renditions of nursery rhymes.

More info | Price: $2.

Khan Academy

With over 4,100 videos, Khan Academy is a rich resource for K-12 mathematics as well as science and humanities. Here kids will find videos no more than 10 minutes long covering everything from arithmetic to calculus. The videos are simple, consisting primarily of a teacher at a blackboard, but they’re typically clear and often amusing. The app tracks kids’ participation, focus, and performance on quizzes, and then rewards them with badges and points. If your kid would prefer something less school-like over the summer, the Recreational Mathematics section includes brain teasers and cool videos about Fibonacci numbers and other mathematical wonders. This is a deep work-at-your-own-pace resource, particularly valuable for kids who already enjoy math and need more.

More info | Price: free.

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