I love writing about apps and games that get kids learning because, let's face it, it is the easiest way to get them to study. But it turns out writing about the best math apps is a lot more difficult than writing about the best reading apps. Why?

Most math apps are still dated. They're fun ways to increase memorization, but they don't really help a child understand mathematical concepts. Common Core is, hopefully, finally bringing America back to international levels of mathematical performance by demanding that we get beyond factory memorization. Most games aren't there yet.

Fact is, if we want the majority of our students to excel in math, we should be teaching them to understand numbers; not just memorizing.

To help point your child in the right direction, below is a selection of apps intended to teach a deeper understanding of mathematics:

1.    Wuzzit Trouble – This adventurous game has been gaining a lot of attention recently. Children assist the adorable creatures, Wuzzits, who've fallen into holes inside a castle. They use a combination of problem solving and calculations to work their way through an epic journey.

This game was the brainchild of NPR's Math Guy, Keith Devlin, and it is possibly one of the best elementary math games out there.

•    Website: http://www.wuzzit-trouble.com/
•    Cost: Free
•    Purchase: Android or iTunes

Note: As of writing this article, the Android link was not working and the games appears to have been taken down from Android. Presumably this is only temporary.

2.    Virtual Manipulatives! - While not a game, this app can be an invaluable resource to parents teaching fractions, decimals, and/or percentages to their children. Without touching and see these numbers (which all represent pieces of a whole), it can be extraordinarily difficult for a student to grasp. Virtual Manipulatives! allows students to see like-numbers and equivalents, as well as comprehend how all the parts add up to a whole.

•    Cost: Free
•    Purchase: iTunes

3.    Wee Kids Math – This is a wordless game that teaches math problem solving to the earliest mathematicians. It has four sections: Counting Small Numbers, Adding and Subtracting Small Numbers, Counting Large Numbers, and Adding and Subtracting Large Numbers. Each section is made up of a variety of mini-games, which generally only last a few seconds (great for short attention spans), but which offer a decent amount of concentrated practice. The pleasant animations and changing scenery keep children interested.

•    Cost: $1.99
•    Purchase: Android or iTunes

4.    Numbees & The World of Math – Set in a fictional world where greedy monsters have stolen and hidden all the numbers of the world, the world has also sadly lost the ancient magic called mathematics. Children must find and reinstate this ancient magic by discovering the relationships between numbers. Though children are learning their math facts (from just learning how to count all the way through division), students must use flexible mathematical thinking to be able to reverse procedures and find the products of a total.

•    Cost: $1.99
•    Purchase: iTunes

5.    Numbler – This app may remind you a lot of “Words with Friends,” and the idea is quite similar, but instead of letters on a Scrabble-like board, you've got numbers and equations. The app promotes students (and adults alike) thinking of all the different ways numbers can come up with the same answer.

•    Cost: $0.99
•    Purchase: iTunes

6.    The Land of Venn – Geometric Defense – The Land of Venn is under attack, but not to worry, your child will learn the geometric skills necessary to rescue the land! This fun and creative game (which happens to be aligned to Common Core) teaches geometry, starting with basic points and lines all the way through fourth grade shapes and calculations. This is a great way to keep your child applying geometric thinking without realizing he/she is doing math.

•    Website: http://www.thelandofvenn.com/
•    Cost: $0.99 for Android, $4.99 for iTunes/iPad
•    Purchase: iTunes or Amazon (for Android)

7.    Up to 100 – Up to 100 is an excellent app for preschool, lower elementary, or any student still struggling with basic number sense, such as place value and sequencing. Kids use Montessori methods to explore numbers, digits, and their values. Unfortunately, the game does not have a significant “reward” or point system, so while the child may enjoy the app more than a worksheet, they may not independently choose to play the game for hours on end. That's okay, because parents can schedule some time with this game everyday without feeling like they're pulling teeth. Most importantly, it does a truly excellent job at teaching the skills it is aimed at. Because a child cannot progress any further mathematically until fully mastering these skills, any elementary student with dyscalculia would benefit from several minutes a day manipulating the numbers on this app.

•    Cost: $2.99
•    Purchase: iTunes

8.    Lumio Farm Factor: Multiply & Divide Basics – Lumio Farm Factor is one the best examples of an app that teaches math facts through teaching the “why” and the “how.” Yes, students will be gaining mathematical fluency, but they do so through constant visuals and practice with real objects being multiplied and divided. Students will also gain skills in figuring out the answers for when they've forgotten the memorized fact. This app is all about thinking mathematically.

•    Cost: Free
•    Purchase: iTunes

9.    Hopscotch – Hopscotch is the only programming app on this list, but really there could have been quite a few more. To do programming, students must constantly make calculations and use their understanding of geometry and other mathematical skills. However, to a child, he/she is designing a character or making an animated show. It couldn't be more perfect for your creative, artsy, or engineering-minded child. Hopscotch is specifically designed to get children creatively playing with programming code, though you might enjoy playing with it too.

•    Website: https://www.gethopscotch.com/
•    Cost: Free
•    Purchase: iTunes

Fact is, if we want the majority of our students to excel in math, we should be teaching them to understand numbers; not just memorizing.

While this is not exhaustive, the apps above would help you get started. As always, we would love to hear from you, be it on our Facebook page or through email, which one works for your children, and what games do they use when learning math.

Key Takeaways:

Choose apps help children understand math
Technology makes learning easier
Be selective in choosing the right app for your child

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