Math Apps - Worth Their Weight in Gold! by HomeschoolMagazine


									Math Apps—Worth Their Weight in Gold!

By Sharra Badgley

Math. It has always been the subject of dread in my life until recently. I have never fully
understood my struggles in higher math and my anxiety over mathematical computations
until I observed our 9-year-old daughter as she struggled with math. My daughter is an
exceptional learner who has inherited my learning challenges of Gifted/ADHD. After several
years of homeschooling, I observed that she could blaze through a large work of classic
literature with full comprehension and understanding beyond her years. However, a page of
math with more than ten problems on it would cause her to break down in tears and lay her
head down in defeat. I could recall having these same experiences during my own
childhood, all the way through my college years. As a Gifted/ADHD learner, our daughter
was overwhelmed by the magnitude of numbers on the text pages.

At the elementary level, in our homeschool we have used an assortment of homeschool
curricula, all of which have included thirty to forty problems per lesson. As classic educators,
we appreciate math drills, which help cement concepts in the mind. The difficulty arose as
our daughter’s sheer anxiety over math prevented her from moving forward and completing
enough problems to master the concepts.

The freedom and flexibility of homeschooling have allowed us to explore many curricula and
programs so that we could reach a place of success, and the use of educational apps has
truly revolutionized our homeschooling. We use educational apps in conjunction with our
textbooks, workbooks, and other online supplementary programs.

As a matter of preference, we instruct our daughter to complete her written work of
approximately twenty math problems, and then, as positive reinforcement, we use math
apps daily for continued learning. By choice, our daughter will now complete, on average,
one hundred problems a day in one math app alone.

Within most educational apps, the math problems are delivered one at a time and it
becomes a challenge or game to achieve higher levels. After our daughter completes her
curriculum app, she is then able to select a game (from among ten different math
programs) to play for a short period of time. Since we have begun including the use of math
apps in our daily homeschooling, our daughter smiles and no longer complains or breaks
down in tears. She has progressed in her math learning, achieves more success on a daily
basis, and is independently driven to complete additional math challenges. Recently, to my
complete surprise, our daughter completed an entire chapter in her Algebra textbook over a
two-day period because she found it to be such a “fun” challenge! For our family,
educational apps have met a learning need and have allowed us to achieve mastery of

Is math your subject of dread? Or could it be biology, grammar, or a foreign language?
Whatever subjects you or your student may struggle in, consider supplementing your core
curriculum with educational apps or other interactive-digital media. They are tools that can
serve as positive reinforcements, and they are especially helpful for struggling learners and
special needs students.

For the month of March, I will highlight several educational math apps that we have found
beneficial. Please note that the prices of apps listed are subject to change and may differ
after publication.

Fourth-Grade Math: Splash Math Worksheets by StudyPad, Inc.—iPad
Age range: Elementary
Price: $9.99

Splash Math for fourth grade is one of the most comprehensive math apps that we have
reviewed thus far! It includes ten chapters of core topics and 140 worksheets, with an
average of twenty problems (per worksheet) that are delivered one at a time. Topics
covered at this level include these: Place Value, Number Sense, Algebra, Multiplication I and
II, Division, Fractions, Decimals, Measurement, and Geometry.

The features are astounding. You can assign worksheets, obtain daily reports, and have a
weekly report delivered to your email. We use this math app on a daily basis in our
homeschooling; it is a family favorite. Splash Math is available from first- through fourth-
grade levels, and the developers are in the process of creating apps for fifth grade and sixth

Operation Math by SpinLight Studio—iPhone/iPad
Age range: Elementary to Adult
Price: $0.99

This uber cool app will have your child begging to work on math drills each day! As “Agent
Prime,” they can take on missions in math to stop the work of the evil Dr. Odd, who is on a
quest to vanquish the world of numbers. Your student will work on basic math skills of
increasing difficulty in the areas of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division while
canvassing the world on a grand adventure.

The incentives earned include cool gear such as watches and uniforms. As your student
completes each level, he will carry out 105 fascinating missions. Our daughter loves this app
and uses it each day after her core studies.

Here are a few additional educational app picks for March:

Fine Arts

Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet by Mindconnex Learning Ltd.—
Price: Free version; $14.99 full app
Age range: Middle School to Adult

Prepare to experience the world of the Bard like never before! The free version of this app
will allow you to experience the first few scenes of the classic tale. The full app is an
unabridged multimedia journey that includes dynamic audio, video animation, literature
text, and study notes. If you have a student studying Shakespeare and/or Romeo and
Juliet, this app is one of the most beneficial tools you can find. Students will literally
become immersed in the world of Romeo and Juliet and be provided with comprehensive
study tools, character guides, relationship maps, and topical analysis to assist their study.
Note: When using this app with younger students, parents should consider the mature
themes contained in Shakespearean literature.

High School—College Prep

iTunes U by Apple—iPhone/iPad/iPod
Price: Free
Age range: Elementary to Adult

This app is a must-have for homeschooling families! You can have the world’s largest digital
content of class courses right at your fingertips. Students of all ages can access assorted
digital media (literally astronomy to zoology and everything in between) from top colleges
and universities in the United States and across the globe. Some classes include a broad
range of course materials.


Stack the Countries by Dan Russell-Pinson—iPhone/iPad/iPod
Price: $1.99
Age range: Elementary to Adult

This highly addictive geography app includes flashcards, games, interactive maps, and more
that covers 193 countries of the world. Study countries, capitals, flags, continents,
landmarks, and more as you enjoy entertaining games. If your child utilizes this app long
enough, you just may find her exclaiming “Look! It’s Belize!” as she eats tortilla chips.

Sharra Badgley, along with her husband and two daughters, resides in central Indiana.
Sharra writes about their family’s homeschooling journey, product reviews, and information
on using apps in home education at The Homeschool Marm
( and blog

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in
the March 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine.
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