Below I will share a short review of 3 math-related apps, that I hope to use both in my classroom, and at home with Alex and Simon:
Pattern Blocks by Braining Camp
All 8 pattern blocks appear to the right of a white board which features a a smart-board-like tray along the bottom. The tray includes four coloured markers and an eraser, so that whatever configuration of pattern blocks is displayed on the board can be annotated. Pattern blocks can be dragged to a trash bin, and the board can be customized to have a triangular grid, square grid or no grid at all.
At 99 cents, this simple yet effective app is a great deal for both small group classroom use, and with students being home schooled.
Base Ten Blocks by Ventura Ed Systems
Developed by a Math professor, this app allows the user to model three-digit numbers, using virtual base ten blocks on a wooden-desk-like surface. A place-value chart is provided, as is an erasor and a “button” which kids will no doubt enjoy pressing between tasks.
In addition to building numbers with the blocks, users can also solve addition and subtraction drills, again, using the blocks as a visual and kinaesthetic scaffold.
Perhaps the best part of this app is a value-added “users manual”, aimed at teachers and parents, which can be downloaded here. The manual includes instructor material on visual and concrete learning, Piaget, and using iPads as a manipulative in math instruction, making it a useful professional document for anyone new to math manipulatives, or iPads as a learning tool, or to teaching math in general.
At $1.99, it costs a little more than some of the other math apps out there, but with the manual, it’s well worth it, in my opinion!
MathRace by VES
Another app by Ventura Ed Systems, this is the only one of the three that I have actually already used with “real kids”: Several of my Grade 3 students took turns playing this partner game.
Math race includes a variety of “races” from adding numbers 1-20, to high school level math skills. Although I’m not usually a fan of “timed test” situation (the research does not support this sort of “learning’ for most students, especially struggling learners), I must say I was impressed with the motivating factor of this little game: I had students dancing up and down while waiting their turn, chanting encouragingly to the players while they hurried to mentally calculate and enter their response before their opponent!
The first player to collect enough gold stars wins the round.
I pitted winners against other winners in my room, and “losers” against other “losers”, so that the students would be matched with an opponent in their ability range.
As an “added bonus” for fun and consolidation practice at the end of a lesson or on a rainy Friday afternoon, I highly recommend this $1.99 app.