Whether your upper elementary or middle school student will be attending school full-time in person or will be in 100% virtual classes at home (or a mix of the two), I know that many of us are dreading one specific moment: that first time they ask for help with their math homework. There’s nothing like a 6th grade math worksheet to bring me to my knees and test the limits of my memory.
But, parents: We are here to help! Not only have we been featuring posts all summer like 7 online resources to supplement your kids’ homeschool learning and our favorite tech gadgets to make in-home schooling easier, we have also started rounding up the best educational apps for kids, starting with the coolest math apps for preschoolers and little kids.
And, now, check out our list of 10 of the smartest and most interesting math apps for upper elementary and middle school kids. These apps will help kids learn math concepts and practice their math facts through lessons and games that are enjoyable and rewarding and will be able to help in this unique school year when staying after school for extra help or getting an in-person tutor may not be possible.
As a former homeschooling parent, I used to say that I was okay teaching math until around 3rd or 4th grade, and then I needed some help explaining things to my frustrated and impatient kids (or maybe I was the frustrated and impatient one).
I wish I had known back then about the grade-level math apps by iTooch that each include literally over a thousand exercises to help your child practice key concepts and understand their classwork better. And since this app lines up with U.S. Common Core Standards, it’s an excellent resource for all of us non-Common Core grown ups to have in our back pockets for when homework time gets complicated. ($5.99 for most levels)
King of Math, and its follow up, King of Math 2, are both such addicting games that work on basic math skills through quick, 10-question multiple-choice segments. As your child completes each level, they will earn points which raises their rank in society, from Farmer to King or Queen. And while your older kids may scoff at the “easy” facts that start the first level, let me tell you that I feel no shame at how many times I had to pause at some of the more complex equations I found in front of me as things got harder. (free to start; $2.99 for each app)
I first thought MathBoard looked like just a chalkboard with equations on it for kids to complete: In other words. . .bor-ing. But, wow, was I wrong! This highly customizable app lets teachers and parents configure the problems to best suit their students using a mix of games and drills. It’s like having a little math tutor in your pocket who will help kids work their way through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems, with the difficulty of the problems set up to match a child’s knowledge base. ($4.99)
If your older elementary student still struggles with multiplication facts, or you just wish they could rattle them off faster, check out the Space Pig Math app. This pixelated app has a retro Space-Invaders-meets-Oregon-Trail feel which makes this “retro” player feel right at home. But I think kids will get a kick out of this smart and silly app which gets kids to answer multiplication questions in order to help free Space Pigs’ friends from evil aliens. (free to start; $2.99 for all levels)
I’ve been a fan of the way DragonBox introduces kids to increasingly complex algebraic concepts since way back in 2013 when my son was only in the fourth grade. In those seven years, DragonBox’s stable of apps has grown, but at its core are now two Algebra apps that take kids from the very first steps in DragonBox Algebra 5+ (ages 5-8, though a good starter app for even older kids) to much more complex puzzles in DragonBox Algebra 12+ (for ages 9+). Graphics are sophisticated and the game play is easy to figure out, but don’t be fooled: There is a lot of serious math being taught here. It’s an excellent way to get kids comfortable with Algebra even if they won’t be taking it as a class for a few more years. ($4.99 for Algebra 5+; $7.99 for Algebra 12+)
I probably would’ve done a LOT better in high school geometry if I’d had DragonBox Elements to play with before I had to take it as a course. Created for kids ages 9–or younger–this game sneaks real Euclidean proofs into a clever battle game which has kids amassing an army to battle an evil dragon. With incredible graphics, cool sounds, and a hands-on way of teaching, DragonBox Elements is really smart. But your kids will just think it’s cool. ($4.99)
Back when I homeschooled my kids, we loved the logic games and puzzles on the Coolmath Games website, and now their free app of mini games has us so excited to start playing again wherever we are. This is not a “grill and drill” app that will make your kids more proficient in their multiplication tables or in reducing fractions, but there are so many fun games that will make them think about spacial relations, cause and effect, and strategy—all useful skills for math and many other subjects too.
Please note that short ads do appear before a game, but can be easily exited and are worth the trouble for so many free games. If you like puzzles and logic games, download this one yourself. I’m glad I did. (free with ads)
My youngest has always had a knack for mental math while one of my other kids is much more of a pen, paper, calculator, and eraser (so much eraser) kind of math learner. But I think both of them could benefit from a cool app like Mathemagics: Mental Math which teaches kids in middle school and up the tricks it takes to be able to do even super complex math problems in your head.
This is an app that will probably be best received by kids who are a bit “mathy” to begin with and love learning new ways to solve problems. But, I know that as soon as my son starts showing off all he’s figured out, his siblings will want to download the app as well so that their little brother doesn’t show them up.
Yay sibling rivalry! ($2.99)