If you haven’t done math since your Statistics class freshman year of college, then you might not trust yourself to help your kids with their math homework. With calculators on our phones and digital tip calculators, it might seem that math has gone obsolete. But they are, in fact, still teaching it in school. In a perfect world, preschool and kindergarten aged kids would get less Paw Patrol and more Pythagoras in their daily screen-time diet. Here’s the good news: the best math apps can help preschoolers, and even toddlers, get excited about numbers and learn basic skills. Whether your kid needs a little extra help understanding addition or you’re just trying to add some math practice to their screen diet, these math apps for kids can help. Because unlike workbooks or parental lectures, educational math apps can get a kid’s attention, and keep it.
The kid’s media experts at Common Sense Media know that math apps are a great tool in any parent’s arsenal, though they note that trusting someone’s review in the app store might not ensure your kid’s screen time is actually educational, or free. They vet thousands of math apps (and generally educational apps) for 12 different criteria, from learning methodology to how likely your kid is to accidentally make in-app purchases. These are the best math apps for toddlers and preschoolers that pass their smell test and will get your kid learning all those skills you forgot the second you were handed a high school diploma.
Elmo Loves the 123s
Leave it to Sesame Workshop’s Elmo and Abby to make math fun. They teach kids number tracing, identification, and addition and subtraction, among other lessons, and kids trace numbers to unlock surprises. There are counting games, coloring pages, and games. Plus, parents can track to see what kids are learning.
Peg + Cat’s Tree Problem by PBS Kids
Peg + Cat’s Tree Problem is based on the delightful Emmy Award-wining PBS KIDS series PEG + CAT, created by Jennifer Oxley. And it reflects the show’s inclusive and accessible voice and tone. Kids learn to problem solve by helping Cat, who’s stuck in a tree. They solve logic puzzles, and learn early math skills. The game increases in difficulty as kids master more skills. Oh, and get this: No ads or in-app purchases.
Park Math by Duck Duck Moose
Who doesn’t like cute ducks? No one, that’s who. This thoroughly engaging app teaches kids to count up to 50 while watching a rabbit swing, feed a hippo the right number of food items, learn addition by helping ducks climb a slide, and learn subtraction by counting the apples falling off a tree. That’s just a few of the activities on hand.
Wild Kratts Creature Math by PBS Kids
Those kooky adventurers teach help kids practice addition and subtraction, in a virtual world full of animals. The app features eight different critters, and the game automatically adjusts its difficulty as a player’s math proficiency goes up. Kids earn reward banners as they progress, and actually have a great time learning animal facts and numbers, at the same time.
Bugs and Numbers
Kids love bugs. They may be a little less psyched about math. But when you have a parade of realistic-looking creepy crawlies showing them how to tell time, divide numbers into fractions, and use money (worker bee’s gotta eat!) they might actually want to participate. For parents, it will just remind you that bed bugs are probably hiding in your hotel room.
Quick Math Jr.
From the makers of Shiny Kids comes an educational app that tailors itself to your mathlete’s aptitude. It handles all of the requisite addition, subtraction, and monster counting — but it also includes handwriting recognition. So beyond math skills like counting fingers and toes, kids will practice writing numbers.
Drive About: Number Neighborhood
You may find yourself driving around aimlessly in the real world (Waze, you’re the worst), but at least you can point your kid in the right direction on their iPad. Preschoolers can cruise to 9 familiar destinations (playground, marina, cake shop) while learning basic math skills and fine motor skills along the way through verbal instruction. (Perfect for toddlers who can’t read yet.) Because unlike stop and go traffic, math makes sense.
Moose Math by Duck Duck Moose
From the studio that brought you the finest games about farm animals and construction equipment comes the best math app for teaching kids skills that they can actually use in preschool and beyond (assuming they don’t become a farmer or a truck driver). Moose Math contains 5 games that teach geometry, sorting, counting by multiples, and more. It also lets parents view a progress report, so you can see just what the hell you’re paying this moose for.
Monsters are already teaching your toddler everything from how to enjoy cookies to how to share. Why not let them teach your preschooler math? The Endless Numbers app uses animated ugly dolls to introduce math concepts like counting, sequences, and basic arithmetic in fun ways. Because the only thing more fun than riding a Ferris wheel is counting all its cars … right?
It’s the Grand Theft Auto of math apps — without the dead bodies, drugs, swearing, weapons, or prostitutes. What it does share is a “sandbox” mode, where your kid can play freely play with furry squiggles called “Nooms” that represent different numerals.
Splash math is basically real-life school at the touch of your finger. It includes a comprehensive curriculum based on our child’s skill level, and sends you weekly progress reports via email. Their kindergarten curriculum includes identifying, counting and comparing numbers up to 10, addition and subtraction, and basic geometry.
Kahn Academy Kids
Kahn Academy is an oldie, but goodie. Developed by education experts at Stanford, it follows the Head Start early learning outcomes framework and common core standards to create an award-winning program for kids aged 2-7. It creates a customized, intuitive curriculum for each user, so kids can learn at their own pace. It’s not only free to download but contains no ads or in-app purchases, so you won’t find surprise charges made by curious fingers.