Learning mental math, which is the ability to do math in your head without pen, paper, or finger counting, requires lots and lots of practice. Unfortunately, many children are simply not getting the practice and repetition they need. In 2017, over 50% of 4th graders were not proficient in 4th grade Common Core math standards. Slower learners, like those with autism, end up falling further and further behind.
Luckily, new educational apps for iPad, iPhone, and Android are taking math learning to the next level. Kids can use these apps at school or at home to learn, practice, and master mental math. This enables children to devote more brain power to learning new concepts, rather than counting.
If you have an iPad, iPhone, or Android device, consider giving your children any of these 6 best math apps for math drills and mental math practice. Your child deserves the world’s best tools to help them master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
1. Math Ace
Launched in the summer of 2018, Math Ace is one of the newest and most effective mental math practice apps for gifted and autistic children alike. Download Math Ace 1st Grade, Math Ace 2nd Grade, or Math Ace 3rd Grade for iOS. Each app is a full Common Core mastery workbook disguised as a game.
Math Ace breaks the Common Core math standards for each year into minute-long math challenges. They’re like digital worksheets, that adapt to student mistakes to improve learning.
What puts Math Ace the top of our list is that it excels at both learning and fun. For every minute of math practice, students are given a token to blast off into orbit in a fun jetpack mini-game which usually lasts under one minute. Students earn medals doing math practice to level up their jetpack and fly higher into space.
Within 10 minutes of app usage, students answer between 100 to 200 math facts, higher than the other apps we’ve tested. And the dynamic nature of the challenges is very effective.
The app design is beautiful, and easy to use. There’s one large list of challenges which makes it easy to track your child’s progress.
We recommend setting a goal for you children to earn 10 medals every day. They’ll be on a fast track to mental math mastery. Start a free trial with Math Ace for one week, which gives you full access to all Ace Apps including Math Ace and Spelling Ace. After that, full access is $19.99 / 3 months.
- Download Math Ace 1st Grade – Master counting, adding and subtracting within 20
- Download Math Ace 2nd Grade – Master adding and subtracting within 100, time, and money
- Download Math Ace 3rd Grade – Master multiplication and division within 100 and fractions
The Ace Apps website states that apps for Android are coming soon.
2. Splash Math
Second on our list is Splash Math, a wonderful all around math learning program, with a wide range of questions and fun, colorful design. Students choose between different subjects like “Subtracting within 1000” or “Measurements”. Within each category, there are a number of levels. Students have to answer around 40 or 50 questions correct per level.
In 10 minutes of play, students will answer about 60 math questions. While slightly less effective than Math Ace for mental math mastery, Splash Math is a great tool for your child to use every day. Unlike Math Ace, which repeats questions that students get wrong until they achieve mastery, Splash Math appears to select questions randomly. The Splash Math challenges are also untimed. If your child feels too much pressure from timed challenges, then Splash Math is a nice casual alternative.
Start a free trial for one week. After that, full access costs $19.99 / 3 months.
Download Splash Math for iOS. Not yet on Android.
3. Kids Academy Talented and Gifted
Kids Academy is an e-learning platform for Pre-K through 3rd grade. It has a fun visual design, and offers thousands of challenges. Each challenge contains a set of pages with a number of cute problems on them. Students answer the problems by circling with their finger. Kids Academy is like practicing paper worksheets on the phone.
In 10 minutes of usage, students can answer between 50 to 100 math problems, which is great. The worksheets do not appear to be as dynamic as in Math Ace. Mistakes do not cause problems to be repeated.
Kids Academy costs $19.99 / month, or $49.99 annually. While Kids Academy is a great overall e-learning platform, it’s less effective at developing mental math mastery quickly than the apps above.
Prodigy is a fun role playing game (RPG) with math problems folded in to the battles. While not as useful at helping students achieve mental math mastery quickly as Math Ace, Prodigy deserves attention because it makes math practice super fun. And it’s free.
In 10 minutes of play, students will answer about 30 math questions. The actual amount varies depending on how many battles students get in to.
Prodigy is free and widely recommended by teachers. It gets third place on our list because of how fun the RPG game is, although it’s less effective at mental math mastery. Kids who may be resistant to learning can get sucked in to the game.
Prodigy is free to all students. The developers make money by selling in-app upgrades and real world toys.
SmartKids offers an impressive selection of mini-games to teach a wide range of topics. Kids go wild for this app. While SmartKids is a great overall e-learning platform, the pace of the mini-games means that students only answer a few math problems per minute of app usage. In 10 minutes of play, students may only answer between 20 and 30 math problems.
If your child really needs to catch up, we recommend one of the other apps above. Each mini-game requires the player to learn the rules of the game, and leaves less room for learning mental math. Tracking a child’s proficiency is also harder.
Smart Kids is $7.99/month or $79.99/year
XtraMath gets a last place on our list, not because we particularly love the app, but because it’s one of the most widely used, and we feel it should be mentioned.
With XtraMath students pick a program like addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. They then jump in to an extensive placement test of all questions within that program. Then students are given sets of more questions which target the student’s weakest areas.
Much like Math Ace, XtraMath gets students to do lots of math per minute of app usage. Where it’s lacking is fun. The app feels like a prison. The lack of a timer or progress bar during the placement test makes it feel like it will never end. In our experience children prefer other apps over XtraMath. Nevertheless, if your child needs extra practice, and if you can motivate them with outside rewards, they will benefit from XtraMath.
We applaud XtraMath for the matrix of questions design above, which makes it easy for parents and teachers to track proficiency.
We hope your child enjoys using the apps above to develop great mental math skills. Do you know of any apps that should be on the list? Reach out to us: @SmartParentingBlog