Rounding out our 2015 back to school tech guide: The best math apps. All year long we’re on the lookout for the very best of the best math apps for kids of all ages, that we know that parents will appreciate too. (Especially since we’re the ones paying for them, right?)  We always want our kids to get excited about learning new things, whether it’s early math basics or advanced concepts like multiplying decimals, or plotting coordinates along an XY axis. That’s why we’re so grateful to the wonderful developers who put out smart math apps like these, that can be a fantastic way to take the fear factor out of math and replace it with fun, right from the start.

We’ve narrowed our picks from oh…about a zillion down to our very favorites from preschoolers through high schoolers. We hope these math apps for kids become favorites at your house too.

Related: 16 best math apps for kids of all ages: 2014 back to school tech guide

Best Math Apps for Preschoolers and Kindergartners

Endless Numbers | Best Math Apps for Kids

Endless Numbers

We’ve featured lots of the Endless educational apps from Originator, and we’re adding Endless Numbers as one we’re loving just as much as the others. The app helps strengthen basic skills like number recognition, counting, sequencing, and introductory addition, all with the help of those adorable monsters. Keep in mind that while the initial download is free, you’ll run out of numbers if you aren’t ready to pony up for some small in-app purchases. (Available on iTunes, Google Play, and Windows App Store)

 

What's the Time Mr. Fox | Best Math Apps for Kids

What’s the Time Mr. Fox

I love time-telling apps for kids, and not just because I’ve found most preschoolers (and plenty of older kids) have trouble grasping the difference between five minutes and an hour. Mr. Fox and his friends (no relation to the morning show whatsoever) can help kids get a handle on what happens at different times of day, and what the clock looks like when it’s time to get dressed, eat lunch, and even when it’s nap time. If we’re lucky.
(Available on iTunes for $2.99, Google Play for $2.03, and Amazon app store for $.99)

 

Drive About: Number Neighborhood | Best Math Apps for Kids

Drive About: Number Neighborhood

We’re always impressed when a favorite educational app developer launches apps across a broad age range. The excellent Artgig now offers a math app for the younger set that’s just as awesome as Mystery Math Museum and Mystery Math Town. Kids can absorb math concepts like number tracing, ordering, stacking, and balancing as they explore the Number Neighborhood in a free play format. (Available on iTunes for $2.99)

 

Quick Math Jr. | Best Math Apps for Kids

Quick Math Jr.

This smart app from well-loved developer Shiny Things (who we featured in our 2014 roundup of the best math apps for kids) is geared toward helping kids grasp number sense. Think of it as common sense, only for math. This kind of understanding of what numbers mean, how they relate to each other, and how they represent quantities, can really help kids build a great foundation in math. (Available on iTunes for $2.99)

 

MathLab for Kindergarten | Best Math Apps for Kids

MathLab for Kindergarten

With a broad scope of coverage, and an Expedition section that’s similar to Number Neighborhood, the MathLab for Kindergarten app is packed full of math concepts to learn and practice. The graphics aren’t as snazzy as the other options above, but that may be in part what helps make MathLab for Kindergarten a great deal, price-wise. Bonus for our neighbors to the north: it’s based on Canada’s math curriculum. But we think it’s a great app for all kids, since math works the same way no matter how you pronounce about. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for $1.99)

 

Basic Math Skills for School with Numbie | Best Math Apps for Kids

Basic Math Skills for School with Numbie

This app really has it all, and by all, I mean all 144 Common Core math concepts that kids are supposed to be taught up to first grade. With comprehensive coverage of topics from counting and sequencing to number place and geometry, Basic Math Skills for School includes hundreds of games and challenges to introduce and practice concepts. Of course having amount of content that could fill several textbooks comes at a price, so I’d suggest trying the first chapter for free before making the leap to a monthly or lifetime subscription. (Available on iTunes and Google Play; $4.99 a chapter after the first free one; then $12.99 a month or $89.99 to unlock all content.)

 

Best Math Apps for Early Elementary

Octoplus and Octominus | Best Math Apps for Kids

OctoPlus app and OctoMinus app

Drilling basic math facts isn’t particularly fun for kids, but does get a whole lot easier once they get the hang of it. These two simple apps are designed to turn drill time into game time, which is always smart. Plus I like that the music and graphics can be adjusted for kids with sensory needs. OctoPlus and OctoMinus are switch-accessible too, so they can be connected to alternative inputs and used by kids with motor limitations. (OctoPlus and OctoMinus available on iTunes for $0.99 each)

Related: 7 great math apps to help avoid the summer slide

Todo Number Matrix | Best Math Apps for Kids

Todo Number Matrix

At first glance this app might look too basic for early elementary learners, but I assure you it’s not. I love how Todo Number Matrix introduces the complex concept of matrices with simple graphics and basic logic and categorization. It helps kids think spatially and grasp mathematic relationships between objects, along with covering math facts, shapes, and even beginning fractions. (Available on iTunes for $1.99)

 

Counting Kingdom | Best Math Apps for Kids

Counting Kingdom

I’m happy to report that even after 8 months, Counting Kingdom is still in heavy rotation at our house. The strategy involved in combining numbers to defeat monsters has kept this app fresh, plus kids can go back and try to earn more stars on earlier levels. I’m still hoping for a sequel involving higher-level math operations, since this game format seems to be a winner. But at least now there’s an Android version, yay! (Available on iTunes for $2.99, on Google Play for $0.99 and on Steam for $6.99)

Related: 7 awesome ways to get girls excited about STEM

 

Twelve a Dozen | Best Math Apps for Kids

Twelve a Dozen

Like The Counting Kingdom, this engaging game has stuck with my grade school kids thanks to the cool graphics and fearless female protagonist who uses math as a means to an end. Progress in this app mirrors progress in math, with kids unlocking more ways to solve problems as they gain new skills. My only complaint about this app is the price, but it’s worthwhile to give up a latte if your kids use the app as much as mine do. (Available on iTunes for $4.99)

 

Fruit Ninja Math Master | Best Math Apps for Kids

Fruit Ninja Academy: Math Master

What do you get when you take a beloved slice-and-dice game and add numbers? A math app that kids will definitely ask to play. Fruit Ninja Academy: Math Master is from the same developer as the original Fruit Ninja game (sorry copycats), and while it’s more of a fun game than an educational tool, I recommend it as a clever way to entice kids into a little extracurricular math practice.  (Available on iTunes for $4.99 and on Google Play for $2.99)

 

Slice Fractions | Best Math Apps for Kids

Slice Fractions app

Another smart app that handles a tough concept well is Slice Fractions, which uses a fun graphic approach that employs fractions to let users solve problems and make progress. Like Todo Number Matrix, I love how this app introduces a complex idea in a way that’s accessible to kids. And if you’re not sure whether first graders need to know fractions, then perhaps you’ve never had to listen to them argue about dividing a plate of cookies among themselves. Who knows — maybe a solid grasp of fractions could help keep the peace at home? (Available on iTunes for $3.99 and on Google Play for free with in-app purchases)

 

Best Math Apps for Older Elementary

Motion Math Cupcake | Best Math Apps for Kids

 

Motion Math Cupcake app

When I checked out this app earlier this summer, I knew it was a winner the moment it trumped Minecraft during carpool. Even with school back in session now, my kids still come up to me, iPad in hand, to show me how much profit they’ve made on their latest sugary creations. I really have no regrets about the purchase price. Unlike when I eat cupcakes. (Available on iTunes for $4.99)

 

Tower Math | Best Math Apps for Kids

Tower Math app

We’ve lauded Stack the States over and over again (seriously, if you haven’t downloaded it yet, you really should), so it’s no surprise that we’re all impressed with this smart app from the same developer. As with Counting Kingdom, Tower Math has users try strategic problem-solving to progress through levels, earning bronze, silver, or gold medals along the way. Although iTunes has rated Tower Math for ages 6-8, I would definitely leaning toward grabbing this math app for your older elementary students since it includes multiplication and division. But hey, if your first grader gets her hands on Tower Math, I wouldn’t yank it away. She might even surprise you. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for $0.99)

 

Love to Count 2 | Best Math Apps for Kids

Love to Count 2

Another longtime favorite math app from my teenager’s younger days is Love to Count Pirate Trio, so I’m excited about Love to Count 2 which covers higher level skills including fractions, decimals, and odd, even, and primary numbers. I really like that the app encourages kids to see ways to apply math in everyday life since we all know that understanding context can make or break a child’s appreciation for math skills. Parents can check on progress, and kids can set up individual profiles, which is a big deal at my house where three small people can get a bit proprietary about their math achievements. (Available on iTunes for $3.99)

 

Math vs. Dinosaurs | Best Math Apps for Kids

Math vs. Dinosaurs app

While I’m a little iffy bout the premise of futuristic siblings armed with ray guns that make dinosaurs and cavemen “disappear” when you select the right answer, I have to admit this app is one that most elementary school kids I know would dig. As players use math to bypass these prehistoric threats, they can learn more about a dozen different dinosaurs. One feature that I especially like is that the difficulty level and concepts covered can be easily customized, so this app can be a good fit for both younger and older kids. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for free download;$4.99 in-app purchase to unlock all content)

 

2Vars | Best Math Apps for Kids

 

2Vars

This Android app doesn’t have many bells and whistles, as you can tell from the screenshot here, but I love how it introduces the concept of variables using simple math facts. Not nearly so intimidating as that first algebraic equation, right? (Available on Google Play for free, with $2 in-app purchase)

 

Best Math Apps for Middle and High Schoolers

iTooch Math Worksheets | Best Math Apps for Kids

iTooch math worksheets and games

The iTooch series of apps from eduPad (also in our roundup of the best reading apps for kids) is intended for use in schools, but it will be especially helpful for homeschooling families, or any kid who wants lots of extra practice without the hassle of printing out worksheets. I’m a fan of the virtual blackboard in this app, which is a more eco-friendly way to work out problems than covering sheets of scratch paper. I’m also impressed by the pricing structure, which is based on subject and grade level and seems quite reasonable. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for free, with $5.99-6.99 in-app purchases for additional subjects)

 

Lightbot | Best Math Apps for Kids

Lightbot app
 

This programming puzzle app reminds me of a higher-level version of a ThinkFun board game my kids love called Laser Maze. It requires understanding of commands, logic, and sequencing for users to solve puzzles and progress through levels. Lightbot is yet another app that takes a complex concept like coding and introduces it in a fun, really accessible way. For younger kids  — or older kids who might prefer an easier intro — also check out Lightbot Jr. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for $2.99)

Related: 8 of the best reading apps for older kids: Back to School Tech Guide 2015

 

 

Algebra Tiles | Best Math Apps for Kids

Algebra Tiles by Brainingcamp

As you can tell just from this very list, most educational apps for older kids don’t offer as many cool graphics or motivational rewards. But an app like Algebra Tiles makes up for lack of flash with an excellent if simple interface that helps kids grasp concepts visually. Those who still learn best by seeing and manipulating will find it especially helpful. (Available on iTunes for $0.99)

 

Doodle Math: One of the best math apps for middle graders and older kids

DoodleMath

From across the pond comes DoodleMath, a subscription-based app that offers customized daily practice based on your kid’s strengths and weaknesses. Like the iTooch series, it was developed for use in schools, but it can also be an excellent supplement at home. Don’t be fooled by the kitschy, playful graphics; DoodleMath for middle schoolers (or secondary students if you’re from the UK too) covers plenty of higher level concepts. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for free, with in-app subscription purchases starting at $5.21 per item. Lifetime subscription to unlock all content is $46.99 for iOS or $48 for Android)

 

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