Tag Archives: ipad

Math App Explosion

We have an absurd number of math apps on our iPad and I thought I’d give a rundown of what we like and find useful.  If you’re like me, you’re always adding more apps, especially when they’re free or only a dollar.  A few of these are more, but they’re all ones we found to be worth the price.

Rocket MathRocket Math
This is the math app we’ve had the longest and we love the designer, who also made Stack the States.  The format of making your own rocket and testing it is appealing.  The math is mixed.  I wish it was easier to customize the math to focus on different skills and skip others, but overall, it’s a fun app worth buying.

Sushi Monster
I like that this app asks you to start with the answer and find the numbers that make it instead of vice versa.  There is an addition and a multiplication option.  It’s a simple game, but the graphics are offbeat and cute.  Plus, you can’t beat the free price.

Math Motion Wings
This game asks kids to visualize multiplication and numbers as you fly a bird around.  It’s not about knowing the exact answer quickly, it’s about comparing values and knowing which is greater.  There’s some fun bits where you get to customize your own bird nest as you go along.

Marble Math
The graphics on this game are just okay, but it’s a clever little concept.  The marble in the maze needs to hit certain numbers before the hole opens up and lets you win.  Almost everything about the game, from the color of your marble to the whether you tilt the screen or use your finger to the math practiced is customizable in this app, which makes it good for more specific practice.

Space Math
If you remember Math Blasters, then this is pretty much the same concept, shooting things and all.  Simple but fun as a way to practice basic math facts.  There’s a lite version and a full version.  We have so many others that we haven’t sprung for the full version.

Numbers League
This game plays off of comics and superheros and has one of the best looks to any of the apps listed.  It’s also a more involved game that feels more like a game in places than a math drill app.  However, math is still at the heart and there’s a lot of good basic math fact practice built into this app.

Dragon Box
This app is set up like the popular puzzle apps with different levels that build on each other.  The goal is to learn, through little cards and pictures, how to isolate unknowns in algebra equations.  This game was incredibly fun for the kids and has been good for referring back to.  I wish it had more levels and more puzzles, especially for the somewhat high price, but it’s still a really innovative app – one of the most innovative that I’ve seen.

This is an extremely simple app, intended for the iPhone, that lets you simply play a round of 24, where you use the four basic operations to make the number 24 from the four numbers the card gives you.  There are absolutely no settings.  You draw and play eight cards and the game times you.  I wish there were some settings (it would be nice to be able to choose how many dots you want for your challenge, for example), but at 99 cents, it’s worth buying.

Math Evolve
This is one of the newest buys at our house.  It’s basically another Math Blasters style app where a character swims through the right answer, but it has more levels as you “evolve” your character.  The kids like it and it practices basic facts.

Pick a Path
This was a quick free app where you pick a path with different numbers and operations to try and reach a target number.  The levels are limited and they get too difficult for Mushroom and BalletBoy too quickly (multiplication and division by fractions and decimals are introduced just a few levels in).  I wish there were more boards though because it’s a clever little puzzle.

Coop Fractions
I discovered this little app by accident.  The chickens lay eggs that you have to catch in a moving nest that you place on a number line.  It’s a great game for teaching fractions values and has a bunch of options of how to use it.  I do find the look on the chickens’ faces a bit disconcerting as they lay their eggs, but as it’s a free one, I’m not going to complain.

Math Board
Despite the price tag, this is the best app I’ve seen for just straight math drills on the iPad.  I’ve mentioned it before, but I really like how it lets you customize exactly what you want to drill.  There’s a “chalkboard” space to work out longer problems and an explanations function for more difficult ones.


No, We Didn’t Really NEED the iPad, but…

It’s been really useful.

I know everyone and the kitchen sink have touted the benefits of having an iPad in homeschooling, but I wasn’t totally sold.  In fact, I was a bit of a naysayer.  I saw videos about how school teachers were using them as fancy delivery systems for multiple choice quizzes they could instantly grade and simply groaned.  No thanks, I thought.  Sure it would be fun to have, but I didn’t think the educational potential would exceed the laptop.

Then the Husband generously gifted the family with one for Christmas and I got all excited about exploring the possibilities for its use.  Now, a few months into having it, like any new device, it feels like I’d never want to part with it.  Yes, most of its uses could be done on a computer or on paper, but the iPad makes it easier for us in ways that have surprised me.  Here are some of the ways in which we’re using it for schooling.

The Stylus
The first extra that I got for the iPad, which has turned out to be infinitely useful, was a stylus.  A stylus allows you to use a pen to write on your iPad, which is nice if you want to use any art apps or handwriting apps or just happen to be more comfortable with a pen in your hand.  I’ve tried several and tossed all but two brands.  The Kuel H10 is little, cheap and very sensitive.  It writes extremely well.  The only downside is that you’ll probably have to order it online and it’s so short that you may crave a longer implement.  The Targus, which you can find at pretty much any big store selling extras for your devices, isn’t too much and feels really nice in the hand.  If you have an iPad2 or 3 with the magnetic smart cover, it’ll stick to the magnet fairly well.  The tip isn’t quite as good as the Kuel, but it’s decent.

When we first got the iPad, I installed Notability, an app that allows you to load your pdf files and then write on top of them, either by typing or simply by drawing (thus the need for that stylus).  I envisioned that we would clearly load all the pdf curricula on there and stop being such paper wasters.  While we’ve done some of that, allowing Mushroom to do some MEP Math and BalletBoy to do some Math Mammoth, it hasn’t been as much as I envisioned.  However, it has been very useful for me as just a portable notepad and binder of stuff.  I love writing little notes, to do lists, and so forth.  I never stick with an organization system and always have a mess of little pads and notebooks.  Now, suddenly, all my little curriculum planning notes are in one place!  I can delete them when I’m done.  I can organize them and move them around.  I can annotate them by copying and pasting text or images from websites.  It’s really useful.  Over on the side, you can see a shot of how I did my messy Africa unit planning on Notability.  Plus, I’ve found it so much more useful for reading books I want to highlight and write in.  I read The Writer’s Jungle on Notability and doodled, highlighted and margin noted my way through it.  I have our Shakespeare play script on there and numerous other documents.

Math Board
This is a pretty simple app that essentially just creates math drills, but I really like it because it allows you, as the teacher, to control the parameters so well.  You can choose how many problems, what type of operations, what range of numbers, and multiple choice or free answer.  It goes up to simple algebra.  You can even have kids find the missing number instead of the answer.  There’s a little chalkboard area for working out longer problems on the side and a feature that works the problem for you if you get stuck.

Okay, now I’m just ramping up the price on apps, but I’ve just begun letting the kids make their own visual reports with this and I’m loving it.  This is a full word processing program for the iPad.  It’s more intuitive than on a traditional computer and the interface makes it even easier, so the kids can use it more easily.  You can see BalletBoy working on his visual report on our Africa trip.  I cut and pasted in the text he wrote in his notebook and he chose, inserted and manipulated the photos he wanted to use to tell the story.  I’m also using it to make our co-op’s yearbook this year.  I felt crazy putting down that a whole ten dollars for an app, but I’m really enjoying all the possibilities this app has.

From pricey to free.  This app lets kids draw, narrate, and “animate” (I put that in quotes because it’s a bit like making a stick puppet show) their own stories.  It’s not necessarily academically educational, but this little app sums up for me the ways in which the iPad can be used for entertainment that is also interactive and creative instead of passive.  Mushroom and BalletBoy have now spent an absurd amount of time making little stories that make almost no sense, but which send them into peals of giggles.  Presumably they’ll eventually start to make sense when their storytelling ability gets more sophisticated?  Oh, wait, no, I’ve taught middle school boys and read their comics…  if anything, my kids are advanced.

Educational Apps and Games Unending
I think nearly everyone out there knows about Stack the States, Stack the Countries and Rocket Math, right?  We’ve also found numerous useful tools like Google Earth, abacus apps, and a faux Cuisenaire rods app.  There are so many neat interactive apps as well.  One that’s been popular in our house lately is the Nova Elements app which lets you “build” things like a banana from the atom up.  And you know Khan Academy has a wonderful app with a nice interface?  Oh, I could go on and on.

Cuddle Encouraging
There’s something so simple about being able to, in the middle of a book, grab the iPad from next to me, roll the cover off, and find a picture or video of exactly the thing we were just talking about.  And because it’s so small, it’s quicker and doesn’t steal my lap or put us in a tangle of cords.  In other words, the feeling of being cuddled on the sofa or the bed for school isn’t interrupted.  That’s the best part for me.