There are some great educational apps available for the iPad and iPhone, but how on earth do you make Maths fun? [Updated May 10, 2013.]
Best Maths apps for children
Maths is boring, right? Well, actually, no. But the way most of us are taught maths certainly can be dull.
To get to grips with maths you need to master the basics, and that means learning lots of simple sums off by heart: 2 x 7 = 14, 5 + 4 = 9, 33 divided by 3 is 11, etc.
See also: Best tablet for children
We have to memorise all the main addition, subtraction, multiplication and division basics because otherwise we’d spend large proportions of the day counting on our fingers and toes.
There’s one thing more boring than just learning times tables off by heart, and that’s sitting there teaching a child to learn times tables off by heart.
Thank goodness then for smartphone apps and tablet apps that make learning basic maths not only easy but fun, too.
I’m not advocating parents abandoning their children armed with an iPhone or Android tablet, and hoping the app does all the work.
At least to start with a parent or other person versed in more than elementary maths needs to be with the child and guide them through the process and help out with the sums. There are tricks for different times tables, for example, that you can teach the child to make the whole process easier.
There are plenty of iPhone, iPad and Android apps to help your child learn basic maths, and we’ve picked a bunch of the best here. These maths games apps are aimed at primary/elementary school children, aged 5-12.
Click on the links to read our full reviews of these maths apps. We have noted which work with iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
Math Bingo: 69p, iPhone, iPad and Android
Play the game that’s all about numbers to learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide: yes, Bingo.
Math Bingo sets a bunch of questions dependent on your choice and the level of your child’s maths skills. A timer ticks away so you’re out to beat your personal best time each go. To start we’d advise disregarding the clock as this can put undue pressure on the child.
Math Bingo is colourful and features a collection of weird bug aliens to make maths even more fun. Kids love to win the Bingo Bugs and they can then use them in a game of Bingo Bug Bungie – a sort of pinball game where you fire your collected bugs to knockout coins to beat your highest score. It's enough to make even reluctantt mathematicians have another go at multiplication!
Times tables: Squeebles Multiplication: 69p, iPhone, iPad and Android
Master the times tables with the help of Whizz, defeat the nasty Maths Monster, and collect little Squeeble characters, trophies and stars as you learn.
Like Math Bingo, Times Tables: Squeebles Multiplication is a colourful app that makes learning fun.
There’s no timer so your child isn’t rushed into guessing, and they’ll love collecting all the game rewards. It's a great way to test kids on their multiplication and times tables.
There are other Squeebles apps for addition, division, etc.
Operation Math: 69p, iPhone, iPad and Android
This spy game puts the player as a secret agent battling the evil Dr Odd. You get new uniforms and spy gear for each mission completed. Like the other maths apps here you set your challenges depending on the level of maths skills of the child.
This game is all about beating the clock, so try it first in training mode when the player has more time to think about the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division equations.
The spy theme is a great idea for making maths a fun adventure.
Away from the app scene we also recommend the BBC’s great online maths games. There’s plenty of variety and skills levels. All the games are fun, colourful and step up in difficulty. We like the way the games start at "Medium" level, so kids aren’t dispirited by not flying through an “Easy” level.
MathBoard: £2.99, iPhone, iPad
Although more expensive than most maths apps MathBoard can be easily configured for school children of all ages, beginning with simple addition and subtraction problems, multiplication and division, and algebra.
The blackboard theme is cute, although most kids won't come anywhere a blackboard in school these days.
It is built around multiple choice but encourages working out solutions with a neat scratchboard area where pupils can chalk their sums.
MathBoard's Problem Solver walks students through the steps required to solve the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division equations. There are also quick reference tables to hand.
We especially like the configurable nature of MathBoard, where you can determine number ranges, omit negative answers, etc.
Activities and quizzes can be timed, either as a countdown timer or elapsed time.
There's a free version that tackles addition only so you can have a play before forking out for the full version. You don't need to be a maths boffin to see the value in that!
Numbees & The World of Math: 69p. iPhone, iPad
Numbees is a lot wackier than the other Maths apps here, and plays a rather annoying tune while you work out the answers. But that's why phones and tablets have volume controls, right?
Aside from the music and sound effects Numbees is a lot of fun and puts maths into an arcade-style format. It's a lot like Math Bingo but tackles questions from a different point of view, for instance giving you answers and making the player work out the sum.
When your child tires of Math Bingo he or she may well jump to Numbees for a change. I'd recommend both of these for fun maths against the clock.