Basic Math

The following applications foster the most basic of math skills, primarily focusing on counting, number recognition, and one-to-one correspondence.

Most Highly Recommended

TallyTots: For each number, from 1-20, there is an animation and a simple game to play. For example, there are five flowers that children can water, and 18 dominoes to knock over. When children choose a number, the app counts to that number aloud while showing each number in the middle of the screen. There is also a section of the app that plays a number song. And there is a section that helps children count from 1-100 on a number grid. This is a great app. It offers many fun opportunities to practice counting and number recognition, and the counting is clear and precise, which helps foster one-to-one correspondence.

Gracie & Friends: Birthday Cafe, & Jungle Gym, & Treasure Bubbles, & City Skate: These four apps are great for teaching young children to subitize—to recognize how many items are in a small group without counting them. The apps offer a variety of activities wherein children match groups of the same number (1-5) or find groups of a particular number. I appreciate that they are in separate apps. It makes them easier to use in the classroom, and children are usually more excited by a new app than they are by a new activity in a familiar app.

Montessori Numberland – Learn to Count: This app has a number of different activities. Children can select a number (0-9) to see a scene with objects to count—for example, the number four shows a snowy scene with four trees, four clouds, four mountains, etc. Children can also practice tracing numbers, counting balls, and putting sticks into boxes to match the numbers on the boxes. The only activity I don’t like is a counting activity that has children drag a finger across a chain of blocks; the numbers are heard when you get to the end of each block, by which time your finger has already slid onto the following block.

Mathlandia: There are six sections in this app (1) One activity goes through numbers 1-10 and has children count aliens each number. (2) Another section has children put numbers 1-10 in order. (3) A counting game shows black and white pictures, which turn to color when children count the items. Each number is represented. (4) A section called “Plus 1 minus 1” has children add one person by pressing the +1 button until there are 10 people. Then they push the −1 button to take them away one at a time. (5) The addition section gives children a number of items to count. Then a space ship brings more of them. (6) The subtraction section is similar, except the space ship takes items away. This is a very good app for teaching early math concepts. I particularly like the counting section—children enjoy counting the objects and making them change to color. The addition and subtraction sections do a nice job of introducing those concepts. My only criticism is that some of the activities move at a tedious pace.

Monkey Math School Sunshine: This app has a number of different activities that focus on smaller numbers (mostly six and fewer). Children are guided through the different activities. In the settings, you can adjust which of the following activities you want to be included in the shuffle. (1) Choose the shape with ___ sides. (2) Pop the bubbles with the number ___. (3) Pop the bubble with the biggest number. (4) Trace a number. (5) What comes next in the pattern? (6) Solve very simple addition problems with pictures for support. (7) Connect the dots. (8) Pop the bubbles that have groups of a certain number. (9) Fill in the missing numbers in sequences. (10) Solve very simple subtraction problems with pictures for support. (11) Pop the bubble with the smallest number. (12) Pop the bubble with the most/least. This is a good app for developing early math skills in young children. It’s fun and it provides lots of practice with number recognition and some good practice with other early math skills.

Count, Sort, and Match: There are three different activities in this app. (1) In the “Count” section, children first touch objects in a tree. The app counts them aloud and shows the numbers while counting them. Then it moves to a screen where it has children trace that number and number word. (2) In the “Sorting” section, children drag items on a clothesline into different baskets according to their color or type. (3) In the “Match” section, children count candies on squares and then match them to the correct numbers. This is a solid app for fostering early math skills. I particularly like the “Count” section. It is structured well to help foster one-to-one correspondence and number recognition. However, I have a couple of criticisms. First, in the “Match” section, the candies are very small. It is hard for young children to count objects that are so small and so close together without skipping objects or counting them twice. Second, when you restart a section, it asks one or two questions, such as, “Would you like to continue, or reset?” A lot of children do not know what that is really asking, and even if they did, they would need to be able to read the words ‘continue’ and ‘reset’ in order to tap on what they want.

Count 123- Math Counting Fun: A screen is presented with the numbers 1-20 along the top and bottom of the screen. When children touch a number, it says the number and presents a picture with that many of something. Then, when children touch the objects, a voice counts them and the objects do something. For example, when each kite is counted, it flies away. This is a very simple but fun app. It does not have a lot of content, so it does not entertain children for a terribly long time. But it is very well designed to teach number recognition, counting, and one-to-one correspondence. I have found surprisingly few apps that focus on basic counting and one-to-one correspondence, despite those being very important skills which require a considerable amount of practice. For that reason, I think this app can be valuable for many young children.


Somewhat Recommended

Sago Mini Pet Cafe: There are three different sections in this app. (1) Children place foods one at a time onto a tray while the app counts aloud, until there are ten. Then, children feed each food to one of three pet. The color of the food has to match the color of the pet. (2) A shapes game gives children a food shape in the middle of the screen. There are two shape outlines on either side of the screen. Children have to match the shape to the correct shape outline and then a pet will eat it. (3) A smoothie making game lets children put blueberries, cherries, and lemons into a smoothie. When the smoothie is finished, children can make the three pets drink out of the smoothie by touching them. This is a fun app that can help foster some early math skills, but it I think it is a little thin on educational content. The food counting and sorting section is most beneficial. The shape sorting section I think is too easy, even for very young children. And while the smoothie-making section is designed to teach colors, I think it has a strange way of doing so.

Gracie & Friends Lemonade Stand: Children tilt the iPad to fill cups with ice cubes. They must make it so each cup has the same number of ice cubes. Moving the ice cubes is sometimes challenging, because there are obstacles (lemons, straws) that get in the way. This is a nice, simple app that gives children a chance to practice making equal quantities and practice recognizing small numbers without needing to count them (subitizing). It is very attractive, fun, and well designed. However, children spend a great deal of time wrestling with ice cubes and much less time practicing the concepts. For that reason, I don’t recommend it highly.

CountOnForest – Playing with numbers: This app provides a handful of simple activities wherein children count, compare numbers, and match sizes, with the help of some forest animal friends. Although it provides some good practice with basic math skills, there are characteristics that I dislike. The size matching activities are unclear. The sizes of the animals don’t necessarily correspond to the sizes of the objects; even I was unsure. I also dislike the way answers are selected simply by touching them. Sometimes children start counting items by touching them; when they do so in this app, they accidentally select those groups as their responses. Finally, there is a time limit for each activity, which encourages children to guess randomly, especially on more challenging activities.

Team UmiZoomi Zoom Into Numbers: This app has a variety of games that give children practice with very small numbers (mostly six and smaller). (1) In the “Toy Store Counting” game, children count toys. The game counts aloud with children as they touch the objects. (2) In the “Number Bubbles” game, children pop the bubbles that have a certain number of dots. (3) In the “Rolling Toy Parade” game, children move numbers around to order them from smallest to largest. (4) In the “Racing Around Umi City” game, children drive through numbers or a groups of dots as instructed. (5) In the “Up Up and Balloons” game, children solve simple addition and subtraction problems by adding balloons and then popping some. This is a pretty good app. It provides some good practice with a variety of early math skills. I do not strongly recommend it however. There are too many bells and whistles and not enough content. There are so many fun animations to watch that it can take two or three minutes to complete a game that only asks four questions. In that regard, it is too much like the television program on which it is based. Also, there are no options for customizing this app. If it were possible to change the numbers and types of activities, then this app would be well suited to grow along with a child. As it is, most children will be finished with it after little time.

Intro to Math, by Montessorium: There are 6 different sections to this app. (1) One section has children put Montessori-type rods in order from longest to shortest. (2) Another section introduces rods with various numbers of cubes in them and then asks children to find numbers. (3) A third section has children trace the numbers 0-9 and asks them to find numbers. (4) Another section asks children to identify numbers 1-10. Then it has children match numbers to the rods that contain that many cubes. (5) A fifth section reviews the numbers, then has children put 1-10 in order. (6) The final section simply offers children a chance to select numbers and practice tracing them. This is a well designed app. It’s easy for children to use, and it provides a pretty good introduction to numbers. It can also be set to many different languages, so you could use it to teach children to count in other languages. My main criticism is that it relies too heavily on the traditional Montessori rods to introduce numbers. I believe it is very important for young children to practice counting objects in groups, and this app only has children pair numbers with rods. Also, the tracing function is a little finicky. It is easy to go outside of the lines, and it only allows you to trace each number one particular way. For example, it requires you to form the number ‘0’ counter-clockwise, not clockwise.


Not Recommended

Ladybug Number Count: Children practice counting ladybugs (in French, English, or Spanish) as they move slowly around different tiny settings, such as a beach, or a sidewalk. In one section, the app counts with children as they touch the ladybugs. In the other section, children have to count the ladybugs without support and then they select the correct number out of three options on the top of the screen. This app is cute and engaging, but I believe it has design flaws that prevent it from being a very useful tool. First, when the app counts aloud, it moves too slowly. A chime is heard after you touch a ladybug, then there is a very brief hesitation, and then the number is heard. If you touch the ladybugs at a fast but reasonable pace (about two per second), as many children do, then the numbers heard lag behind the number the child is currently touching. Second, in some settings, the ladybugs are hard to find. They sometimes move behind objects or blend in with the background.

Counting Madness: There are four different sections in this app. (1) In the “Matching” game, children play a game of memory wherein they match cards with numbers on them to cards with objects to be counted. (2) In the “Counting” game, a child asks for a number of ice cream cones and children give that many to her. (3) In the “Counting Too” game, children count the fish on the screen and then touch the correct number below. (4) In the “Number Order” game, children are given five numbers and have to move them below in order from smallest to largest. This app provides a little bit of good practice, but it is not very well designed. I do not recommend it. In the “Counting” game, there is a slight delay after you let go of an ice cream cone, and then it makes a noise. Often times, a child has already grabbed another cone by then. The delayed noises sometimes mess up a child’s counting. It is also a little hard to find the check mark button to push when a child has the right number. In the “Counting Too” game, the screen is much too busy, making it hard to see the fish. Sometimes fish are even hidden behind other fish.