Friday, January 16, 2015

Five Star Favorite Math Apps

 Hello again! It's Lisa from Second Grade Stories.  My students LOVE anything that has to do with technology, and ipads are their number one favorite.  We've moved from a one ipad classroom (you can read about that HERE) to having three ipads in our room, along with being able to borrow 3 more when needed.  This has really opened up what we can do with technology, but my students' favorite parts of the day is still "Tech Time" during our math centers. 
When I look for a math app to use during centers, I look at a few different things:
(1) Is it easy for students to use independently?  I try out each app myself before using it in the classroom, and often I'll ask a few students to "test" an app during indoor recess.  Some aps make the cut, and others get deleted soon after.
(2) Does it fit the needs of my class in general, or the needs of a group of students?  Sometimes you don't know what you get until you download and test out the app.  Apps that claim to practice basic facts may also have a problem solving component, involve strategy or engage students in other kinds of higher level thinking.  The opposite can also be true - some apps that I think are going to be great turn out to be nothing more than rote practice.
(3) Is it cheap - or at least worth the money?  I admit, I always look for the free apps first.  Many times these apps hold my students' attention just long enough for some practice and then they get bored.  That's fine.  Delete and move on.  Other free apps have stayed as part of our rotation since the beginning of the year.  That being said, there are often times it's worth buying the full version of an app.  It's funny, I sometimes find myself hesitating to purchase a $2.99 app, but think nothing of what I spend on Teacher Pay Teachers, at Staples or at the teacher supply store!  Apps never go bad (although they might need to be updated!) so I have apps from a couple years ago that I have purchased that we still use.
I thought I would share with you a few math apps I've found that my students really like.  I made a list for morning sign-in this week of 15 math apps that we really like and asked students to choose their favorites.  We voted during class and shared why each one was a favorite.  These apps were chosen for ease of use, skill content and most of all - fun!  Kid-tested and approved, I present to you our "Five Favorite Apps - Math Style!"
This game is great for place value review up to 1,000.  Up to four players can join at a time.  In the middle, there are numbers represented in various ways - expanded notation, base 10 blocks, bills and coins... Each player has a set of answers at the bottom of their screen.  The object is to be the first one to slide the correct answer to the middle.  There are 10 levels that get more difficult as you go on. 
My kiddos really love this game!  The fact that more than one person can play at a time is fun, although they also like playing by themselves and seeing who can get the best time.  The free version allows you to play levels 1 and 10 unlimited, and each of the other levels can be played two times.  The school edition (paid version) is $2.99 and has 20 games.  There is also a Math Slide Addition and Subtraction.

Lumio's Electric Sums is another great app that focuses on place value - but uses those place value skills to work on addition and subtraction up to 1,000.  Players advance through a story as they "fix" math problems and earn rewards as they level up.
 A couple of my kiddos are so excited about this one they play every indoor recess!  The free version gives you an idea of how the game works and the kinds of problems students will see.  The full version for $2.99 keeps kids busy for a while!
Sushi Monster is a free app great for practicing addition and multiplications facts.  This app is a little more challenging than just your basic "memorizing facts" idea.  Players have to use what they know about a certain number to find combinations that equal that sum or product.  This is a fun one to use once kids have a basic understanding of their facts.
Math Fight is another 2 person game, making this great for math centers.  It's free - and a fun way to practice math facts.  Guessing won't help in this game - you lose a point for every wrong answer.  Students can practice addition, subtraction multiplication and division all on different levels.
This is another favorite indoor recess game - probably because more than one person can play at a time. 
And speaking of multi-player apps - this next one gets 5 stars from my students:
This game ($2.99) allows up to four players at a time and involves beating the mission clock - a huge motivator for some of my kiddos!  Again, this one is great for practicing all four operations and you can choose the operation and skill level.
The fun part of this app is that the players work together to beat the game, rather than against each other.  That cooperative aspect allows students who don't know the answers as quickly still be able to contribute to the mission.
There you have it!  Our top five picks for math apps in our classroom right now.  Do you use any of these in your classroom already?  Are there any others you really like?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!


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