Those long, lazy days of summer are finally here! Not only is this a great season to relax by the pool or park, it's also the perfect opportunity to keep your children's minds sharp for back-to-school time by downloading one of the many great math apps for kids.
Before you protest, "Math over the summer? Give me a break! This is vacation time!", consider this: According to Harvard researchers, kids lose an average of 2.6 months of math learning over the summer. In other words, while our children are busying themselves with water-gun battles, sidewalk-chalk masterpieces, and playground dates with friends, all those addition regrouping skills, multiplication tables, and fraction mastery are slipping from their brains as quickly as sand slips through their fingers at the beach. Once school starts again, teachers spend those first valuable weeks trying to help their classes catch up.
Fortunately, practicing math over the summer doesn't have to be a tedious struggle. The excellent Android, iPhone and tablet apps available to parents are designed to prevent the dreaded "summer slide." As a bonus, they're also so much fun to use that your kids may not even realize they're learning valuable math skills!
Here are 7 math apps that get solid thumbs-up ratings on iTunes and Google Play from parents whose kids love to play while they learn:
1. Monster Math
Sesame Street's Count von Count isn't the only monster who knows his numbers. This app grows as your kids do, with Common Core-aligned games for grades K-5. An engaging storyline guides users through lessons in shapes, addition, subtraction, decimals, and more as they help heroes Maxx and Dextra escape various monster-populated worlds. You'll appreciate the weekly reports tracking your child's progress and noting specific strengths and areas for growth.
2. Intro to Math
Parents of preschoolers give a rousing endorsement to this gentle introduction to math basics. Children learn how to match numerals to quantity, arrange numbers in order using colored segmented rods, and trace numerals on the screen in preparation for writing. The lessons focus exclusively on numbers 0-9, so this is best for 3 to 4-year-olds; still, by the time they master these games, your young mathematicians will be more than ready for higher-level apps.
3. Moose Math
Kindergartners and first-graders will love playing games like Moose Juice, Pet Bingo, and Lost and Found, each of which has numerous levels and opportunities to collect rewards to build a virtual city. Along the way, kids hone their skills in addition, subtraction, counting by 2s, 5s and 10s, measurements, and geometry. The app also includes a Report Card section for parents.
There's plenty to appreciate about this award-winning app: For one, it's aimed at users from kindergarten through 6th grade, so your child can enjoy playing it from childhood through the tween years. For another, it has an adaptive learning feature that adjusts play to match the user's skill level. Parents and teachers can use the analytics feature to track children's learning. The range of skill-based games available, from fractions to place value, money calculations to 3-D shapes, ensure that boredom is not an option.
5. Todo Math
Before you balk at the subscription price, consider what you get for your money: more than 28 multi-level games, plus tons of standards-based early childhood concepts, including skip counting, time, multiplication, days and months, sorting, and classification. Accomplishments are acknowledged with stars and keys to more difficult levels. Best of all, in keeping with the name of the company (todo is Spanish for "all"), the app has features for children with memory and processing issues, dyslexia, and other different learning styles.
6. PBS Kids Measure Up!
Sometimes we get so fixated on shapes and numbers that we forget that early math includes lots of other concepts. Measure Up! sets us straight. Using favorite PBS KIDS characters such as Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train, and Peg + Cat, kids ages 3-5 can solve problems involving length, weight, width, and capacity while exploring different environments. Young users receive sticker rewards for finishing levels, and parents can use a special PBS KIDS Super Vision (TM) app to monitor their children's progress.
7. Dino Tim
This fun app, from a Swedish developer, allows preschoolers to practice their colors, shapes, and numbers, as well as their language skills. With a tap of a button, you can switch the voice-over instructions to Spanish, French, or Italian. Before long, your kids will know the difference between a circulo and a triángulo.