Mixed Skills Apps

The following applications contain both math and reading activities.

Most Highly Recommended

Teach Me Kindergarten & Teach Me First Grade: These apps bounce between different math and reading activities. They get progressively more difficult as the students complete more activities and move into new levels. There are four different types of activities. (1) Solve addition problems. Children see and hear the math problem. Then they take items out of a bucket to add them to the group and then figure out  (2) Solve subtraction problems. Children take the correct number of objects away and place them in a basket to figure out the answer. (3) Select a sight word out of four options. (4) Fill in the missing letter in words (Teach Me Kindergarten) or figure out the letters needed to write a word (Teach Me First Grade). There are only two major differences between these two apps. First, the questions are a little more challenging in “Teach Me First Grade.” Some math questions, for example, do not have pictures for support. Second, whereas “Teach Me Kindergarten” gives children four answers to choose from for each question, “Teach Me First Grade” has children write the answers. It converts written letters and numbers into text which the children can then click on if it is what they intended to write. These are great apps. They are loaded with content, and children enjoy them quite a bit. Don’t let the words ‘kindergarten’ and ‘first grade’ scare you. These games are appropriate for many preschoolers. I like the way that questions are asked and answers are repeated. It really helps reinforce the skills be practiced. Children receive coins for completing activities which they can use to buy stickers. But they only receive a reward if they get the correct answer on the first try, an arrangement that discourages guessing. You can select which of the four different types of activities you want to turn on. So if you would like a child to focus on or two types of activities, you can have this app offer only those types of activities. In the “Addition” and “Subtraction” games, the game counts with children when they touch items, which is a good way to support one-to-one correspondence when counting. I have only a couple of criticisms. First, the “Teach Me First Grade” app does a pretty good job of converting students’ writing to letters and numbers. But sometimes you have to be pretty precise. For example, the final stroke down in the number 9 cannot be crooked, or the app will not recognize the number. There is an option to include a keyboard instead if this becomes frustrating for a student. Second, as a teacher, it would be convenient if I could turn certain games on or off for all of the students. As it is, I have to go into each student’s profile and adjust which games to include. Third, the app pesters children a bit. Sometimes, as children are working to figure out answers, they are distracted by the regular audio prompts that the app gives.

Teach Me Toddler: This app bounce between the following early skills activities. (1) Find a shape. (2) Find the letter that makes a sound. (3) Find a number. (4) Find a color. (5) Find a letter. (6) Count the objects and touch the correct number. Each activity can be turned on or off for each player. This is a great app for young children. It is designed for children who are still learning the shapes, colors, numbers, letters, and letter sounds. Children earn stickers as the complete activities. But they are only rewarded if they find the correct answer on the first try, a design that discourages random guessing. The counting section I like quite a bit. As children touch each object, it counts with them, which helps teach counting and fosters good one-to-one correspondence.

Bee Match: This app has a number of different matching memory games. Children touch different parts of the beehive to reveal different words, pictures, letters, numbers, or shapes. The number of pairs on each screen can be adjusted, from three to eleven. The different types of matching games include: Match Numbers; Match Numbers to Words; Match Pictures; Match Shapes; Match Sight Words; Match Words; Match Uppercase Letters; Match Lowercase Letters, Match Uppercase to Lowercase; Match Letter Sounds to Letters; Match Starting Letter Sounds for Words. This is a great app. There are many different types of items to match. That, along with the fact that the number of matches on each screen can be adjusted, allows this app to be educational for a fairly wide variety of skill levels. That is, it can grow with a child.


Somewhat Recommended

Dot To Dot: Children touch the screen to complete dot-to-dot pictures with numbers or letters. This is a good simple app. It is well designed and it provides some good practice with number recognition, counting, letter recognition, and alphabetical ordering. Some children love dot-to-dot games. They will be entertained for quite a while. Others may tire of this app more quickly.

Touch and Learn- ABC Alphabet and 123 Numbers: Children see a screen with four letters and/or numbers and are told to touch one. They sometimes have to find the upper- and lower-case letter (e.g., “Touch the ‘D’s”), and they sometimes are asked to find only an upper-case or lower-case letter. Which types of characters to include (upper-case letters, lower-case letters, or numbers) can be adjusted in the settings. This is a very simple app. It usually does not hold a child’s attention for long, but it provides some good practice with letter and number recognition. (This app has also been included in the Basic Reading section of this website, because is primarily focuses on basic reading skills.)

Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Games: This app has nine different types of activities, divided into three groups. The “Basics” group contains the following games. (1a) In the “Shapes and Colors” game, children are asked to find different shapes and colors. (1b) In the “Memory” game, children play a memory game with pictures of different animals and objects. (1c) In the “Puzzles” game, they put pieces together to create a puzzle. (2a) In “Language” group of games, the “Letters” game gives children three words with accompanying pictures and are asked to find the word that starts with a letter. (2b) In the “Alphabet” game, children see all of the letters on the screen in a bunch of balls and they have to pop them in alphabetical order. The letters can be upper case or lower case. (2c) In the “Spelling” game, children unscramble letters to make three, four, or five-letter words. (3a) The first game in the “Math” group is a “Counting” game, children are asked to find a certain number of a certain fruit on the screen. As they touch that fruit, the game counts with them. (3b) In the “Addition” game, children see and hear an addition problem. They have to select the solution out of four choices. For support, there are two different kinds of fruit on the screen, for the two numbers in the problem. (3c) In the “Subtract” game, children see and hear a subtraction problem. They have to choose the solution out of four choices. For support, there are a number of fruits on the screen representing the starting number. Some have ‘X’ marks on them, representing the number that is being subtracted. When children touch the ‘X’ mark fruits, they disappear. This is a pretty good app. There are many different games that support different types of skills. However, the format is not the best for fostering thoughtful learning. Children are inclined to guess with many of its games. They hear the same rewarding praise every time, even if they guess the correct answer last. Also, the words in the “Spelling” game are poorly chosen. Many are simple words, good for beginning readers, but some are irregular words that go beyond simple phonics. Finally, this app makes a silly noise when you get the wrong answer in some of its games, which children enjoy. They sometimes guess incorrectly on purpose just to hear the noise.

Kids Connect the Dots: This is a simple connect-the-dots app. Children touch the numbers or letters in order, thereby creating a picture. This app provides good practice with number recognition and counting. But I have two criticisms. First, it is not the most engaging app. Children are often excited to see what pictures they are creating, but the task of touching numbers or letters in order becomes tiresome. Second, there is no incentive to chose the correct next number or letter on the first or second try, so children are inclined to guess randomly.

First Grade Learning Games: This app has 10 different games. Many of them are, as the name indicates, designed for first graders, but a few are appropriate for younger children. (1) The “Patterns” game has children figure out what numbers or objects come next in a pattern. (2) The “Ordering” game asks children to pop balloons, in order from greatest to least, least to greatest, largest to smallest, smallest to largest or alphabetically. The difficulty level is adjustable, although there is no option to include only one type of ordering. (3) The “Word Bingo” game gives children a bingo card with words. They hear words and have to find them. Other, more advanced games include: “Compound Words,” “Advanced Counting,” “Add & Subtract,” “Contractions,” “Spelling, “Fractions,” “Verbs, Nouns, Adjectives.” This is a pretty good app, but it’s not terribly well designed. The content is more challenging than the format, which tends to encourage guessing more than thoughtful learning. The “Ordering” game would be more useful if there was a way to select the types of ordering to be included. Some types of ordering (e.g., alphabetical ordering) are much more difficult than others (e.g., size ordering). The “Patterns,” “Ordering,” and “Word Bingo” games are free. (The rest require an in-app purchase.) Those three free games, along with the “Add & Subtract game, happen to be the best for younger children. So I would start off with those.


Not Recommended

MrEdison: This app offers a variety of educational games: dot-to-dot activities, addition problems, spelling questions, number ordering, and more. They all expect children to rely heavily upon memorization. As examples, the math problems expect children to have memorized solutions, and the spelling words contain letters children do not expect (e.g., ‘apple’ and ‘taxi’).

Play and Learn with Wallace: There are six different types of activities that can be selected. (1) The “Counting Fun” section offers a variety of counting and number recognition activities. (2) A section called “My First App” has children answer questions about animals, clothes, and items, with some questions about number or size. (3) The “First Spelling” section presents phonics skills activities. Most focus on word beginning sounds, but some ask children to put together whole three-letter words. (4) The “Number Skills” section has children fill in the missing numbers in addition and subtraction equations. (5) A section titled “Picture Puzzles” gives a hodgepodge of activities that ask questions about animals and colors, as well as matching games, puzzle piece games, and connect-the-dots games. (6) The last section, “Let’s Write ABC,” offers lower-to-upper-case letter matching activities, alphabetizing activities, and letter tracing, This game is attractive and easy for children to use. But its activities don’t strike me as particularly valuable, and I have a number of specific criticisms that cause me to withhold a recommendation. First, some of the counting games ask children to find a group of one kind of fruit with a certain number. But because each group has a different kind of fruit, children don’t need to do any counting at all. The same type of issue comes up in one of the matching games; each card has a different color that corresponds to each number of dots, so children can match based on color without paying any attention to the number of dots. Second, when children count objects in one activity, the app counts aloud with them in a poor fashion. It makes a little noise before saying each number, thereby giving children time to move on to another object before they hear the number corresponding to the previous object. Consequentially, the skill of counting with one-to-one correspondence is not fostered and perhaps hindered. Third, the connect-the-dots activities and letter tracing activities are very difficult. You have to be very precise or the app forces you to start over. Even adults find it frustrating. Fourth, it is very easy to guess randomly with this app. Children are inclined to quickly tap all of the answers, as it is very quick and easy and still garners the same rewards.

Math and Letters Air Control: Children match airplanes and helicopters to different landing pads and runways. By touching an airplane or helicopter and dragging your finger, you chart a course. If two aircraft crash, then they disappear. There are a number of different levels. Children can match letters, match number, match vowels and consonants, or match math problems to their solutions. This is a fun app for children, but the educational content is pretty thin. There is a lot of playing and not a lot of learning. The biggest challenge isn’t figuring out the solutions. It’s preventing the aircraft from crashing. In that respect it’s more like a traditional video game.