Math is child’s play with 5 apps, but fun for adults, too

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - CHRIS­TINE ELGERSMA Celia Storey added in­for­ma­tion to this re­port.

Apps and com­puter games add a fun el­e­ment to prac­tic­ing key math skills. Here are some we en­joyed that were de­signed for chil­dren.

Can adults en­joy a kids game? How “adult” is Candy Crush?

■ Dragonbox Big Num­bers: In a whim­si­cal land of Noo­mia, col­lect re­sources, add them, re­group and sub­tract when you buy sup­plies to ac­com­plish var­i­ous tasks. As you progress, new ar­eas and chal­lenges un­lock, and num­bers get larger.

Skills: ad­di­tion, sub­trac­tion, group­ing

Why we like it: It’s a unique and fun next step for those who have mas­tered ba­sic ad­di­tion and sub­trac­tion.

Lev­el­ing up slowly and work­ing with amounts as items and as nu­mer­als helps you master the skills no mat­ter your learn­ing style. The grad­ual ad­di­tion of worlds and chal­lenges off­sets the rep­e­ti­tion of col­lect­ing re­sources and prac­tic­ing skills.

Cost: $10.99

■ Mar­ble Math by ArtGig: In this fan­tas­tic app, you see prob­lems — such as “Col­lect frac­tions that add up to 2” — at the top of the screen and then nav­i­gate through a maze with a mar­ble to pick up an­swers.

Skills: ad­di­tion, sub­trac­tion, mul­ti­pli­ca­tion, di­vi­sion, frac­tions, Ro­man nu­mer­als, dec­i­mals, neg­a­tive num­bers and more

Why we like it: The tricky mazes are fun to solve.

Users cus­tom­ize the ex­pe­ri­ence by se­lect­ing their level of dif­fi­culty, the skills they want to fo­cus on, and more. They get good feed­back and help; the “show me” but­ton lets them see the cor­rect maze pat­tern and math an­swer.

Cost: $2.99 on Ama­zon. com and Google Play, $3.99 on iTunes

■ Mo­tion Math Cup­cake: For their new bak­ery, users must de­sign, name and make cup­cakes. As they take or­ders and de­liver them, they do the ba­sic math that comes with the ter­ri­tory of buy­ing and sell­ing.

Skills: ad­di­tion, sub­trac­tion, mul­ti­pli­ca­tion, arith­metic, count­ing, frac­tions, graph­ing

Why we like it: Math skills are baked right into the ac­tiv­i­ties. Plac­ing kids in a busi­ness set­ting shows how math skills are use­ful in real life. The var­ied ac­tiv­i­ties keep it in­ter­est­ing as the game grows more chal­leng­ing.

Af­ter you beat the game once, you can play again with a Loan Shark op­tion that gives you money upfront but then de­mands it back.

Cost: $8.49

■ Prodigy Math Game: Af­ter choos­ing an avatar, earn spells by com­plet­ing math prob­lems and then use the spells to de­feat mon­sters. Along the way you can earn other re­wards, and the game adapts to the player’s skill level.

Skills: ad­di­tion, sub­trac­tion, mul­ti­pli­ca­tion, di­vi­sion, count­ing, equa­tions, frac­tions, func­tions, geometry, num­bers, prob­a­bil­ity, ra­tio, sta­tis­tics

Why we like it: Us­ing the math to pro­pel the game is mo­ti­vat­ing. The game cov­ers a va­ri­ety of math con­cepts within the look and feel of an ad­ven­ture.

Cost: There’s some in-app pres­sure to sub­scribe (lev­els be­gin at $11.99), but the game can be played for free on­line and on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

■ Sushi Mon­ster from Scholas­tic: Kids play­ing Sushi Mon­ster work in re­verse to solve ad­di­tion and mul­ti­pli­ca­tion prob­lems. Each round be­gins with a set of tar­get num­bers. The chef puts num­bered plates of sushi on the counter, and the user must choose the cor­rect com­bi­na­tion of plates to meet the tar­get, thereby feed­ing the sushi mon­ster.

Skills: ad­di­tion, mul­ti­pli­ca­tion

Why we like it: With en­gag­ing char­ac­ters and achiev­able re­wards, users could eas­ily get hooked and in the process learn their ad­di­tion and mul­ti­pli­ca­tion ta­bles.

Cost: free

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