Part of summer school this year is extra practice on the iPads. I appreciate educational games because they can help reinforce the work we do during our lessons, and they offer the kids extra practice without feeling like "school."
The kids and I have been having a lot of fun getting to know some new apps this summer. We're primarily focusing on math and reading practice. (Not entirely, but primarily :) ) And man, do my kids need the extra practice. But because it's the summer, I really tried to track down educational apps that were more game-y and less drill-y. (And by game-y I do not mean having the strong flavor or smell of game meat, especially when it is slightly tainted. I mean fun-ish or full on FUN.)
I personally play all the games I tell you about so I promise I'm not just pulling stuff out of thin air and "recommending" it. (I've bought plenty of apps that I would never recommend. Booooo. I hate when that happens.) I also watch my kids play to see if the difficulty level is appropriate for their age/abilities, and to see if they like it. The games I recommend here the one we really, really enjoy! You have my word ;)
So since Math skills are one of those things no one wants to see fizzle out over the summer, here are my top six recommendations for math games that are guaranteed to provide solid practice and serious fun all summer long (or at least on rainy days and Mondays...)
Mystery Math Town ($2.99, Artgig Studios) (note: if you're considering buying any of the Artgig Studio apps, see my note on bundle pricing below)
I am so very excited to recommend this app to you! THIS app was a home run, a grand slam, a loaded nachos with extra cheese and guacamole purchase. My boys love it. As do I. Players make their way through the town, exploring the various homes and buildings by collecting numbers and using them to solve math problems. Solving an equation will get you through a door, window, or up/down ladders and stairs as you attempt different challenges, like rescuing missing fireflies and collecting gold coins. One of the things that makes this app different from many other math practice games is that the player is given the equation "answer" and must build the rest of the equation using the numbers from his "bank." Example...
___ x ___ = 21
Choose from -- 8 4 9 3 1 7
If the player doesn't have the numbers needed to complete the equation, he must choose a different door, staircase, etc... to continue collecting what he needs.
All I can say is, again, this game has been a huge hit. As has its companion, Mystery Math Museum. The premise is essentially the same, but you work your way through 8 different museums and the exhibits therein (including museums about sports, the wild west, art, aerospace, dinosaurs, and more.) These games are customizable according to ability -- you can choose different operations and levels of difficulty for each child.
|Mystery Math Town|
|Mystery Math Museum|
Marble Math and Marble Math Jr. ($2.99 ea., also by Artgig Studios, incidentally)
These are also super popular with both my boys. These games combines a wide variety of math skills with a maze puzzle. You can pick up "extras" along the way, like flashlights to help you see in the dark and the ability to pass through walls of the maze. They are highly customizable - lots of different math concepts to choose from as well as the ability to adjust the level of difficulty. In the Jr game, there is the option of having the instructions read out loud for kiddos that aren't yet proficient readers. The app creators suggest the Jr game for 6 -8 year olds and the standard game for 9 - 12 year olds. I think this is a fair assessment.
Math Ignition ($1.99, Echoboom SL) and Mathmateer ($.99, Freecloud Design, Inc.)
Both of these are games in which successful rocket launches depend on solving math equations (again, customizable!) In Math Ignition, correct answers to equations launch a rocket and then correct answers to various mental math questions successfully send it into orbit. As the Math gets harder, so do the missions. In Mathmateer, correct answers earn the player money to build a unique rocket, perfecting its construction until you achieve a successful launch. Both are very engaging and involve space rockets, but they're actually pretty different, which is why we have both of them ;) My boys really like the challenge of getting a successful launch, so they'll play these over and over, fixing their mistakes at math and rocket construction until they get the best possible launch and mission completion.
And I have one final recommendation, even though it's not a math app I couldn't resist...
Mystery Word Town (Sight Word Spelling) ($2.99, also from Artgig Studio, same makers as the Math Town, Math Museum, and Marble Math games.)
In Mystery Word Town, your mission is to track down the missing gold in the Wild West by collecting coins and letters and using spelling skills to work your way through town - through the General Store, Bank, Hotel, etc... You can adjust the level of difficulty, and younger kids can get audio clues if needed.
I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but these Artgig apps really are great! I was so happy to have discovered them this summer. We have several other sight word apps that are B-O-R-I-N-G. Oh man, are they are boring. Beyond boring. But this one is fun fun fun till mommy takes the iPad away. (I totally admit that was cheesy, but I had to throw it in there to see if anyone was still reading all the way to the end here ;) )
|Mystery Word Town|
In conclusion, it is possible to to combine math and fun, and my kids' enjoyment of these apps are the proof I offer :)
Now, in case you're not aware of the fact that many app developers are now offering their products in "bundles," I feel like I should tell you that if you're interested in the Artgig apps I mentioned (the mystery and marble apps) there are a few different bundles you can purchase, getting multiple apps at a discount. For example...
Here is a link to the bundle which includes Math Town, Math Museum, and both levels of Marble Math, for $7.99 - that's about a 33% discount. (each individual app is $2.99)
Or here's a link to a bundle which includes Math Town and Word Town, for $4.99 (as opposed to $2.99 each)
If you have kids of different ages, and/or kids that really need to practice math and sight words in fun and engaging ways (clearly his describes me) then I recommend a bundle :) If you purchase any of these apps through the links I've provided here, I'll get a few pennies to put toward future purchases - thereby ensuring my children a well rounded education (and by well-rounded I mean fully or broadly developed and not rotund from having sat around playing too many iPad games ;) )
Got toddlers and pre-schoolers? My list of summertime apps for those kiddos is coming soon!
Happy summer i-schooling!