Monday, January 3, 2011

Teaching Tools*: Math App "Park Math" and other math apps

How can you utilize iPads as a mathematical teaching tool?  With a few good apps of course!

I really REALLY like Park Math (TT* rating 4.75/5 stars) by Duck Duck Moose.  I think I paid $1.99 and it's worth all 199 pennies.  They have some other apps (mostly songs I think) that are highly rated but I haven't paid for.  Yet.  I may cave in soon.  

I think I mentioned before that I have several great programs and websites I use on PC's for literacy skills (,,, Kid Pix, Phonics Activities- came with my reading program) but hardly anything that worked on math skills without going to websites with too many ads or links to other pages. 

I had hoped to find some really great math apps.  So far I have only found one I wholeheartedly love for my classroom: Park Math HD.    

There are 3 levels of difficulty; and several activities within the app.
counting to simple-20, medium-50, harder- 100  (as a bunny swings, each swing is counted out loud and displayed on a carrot.  I tell my kids they should be counting along.)

Addition (simple 1+2, medium 3+5, harder 9+7)  This part is great- there are ducks on a climber (for ex. 4 on top with numbers 1-4 on their bellies).  the math sentence is on the side 4+3=? with three choices (5, 6, 7).  You can solve right away or click on the three ducks on the ground- they join the other ducks, now there are 7 ducks numbered 1-7.  Press 7 and they all slide down.
Balance- mice are on an unbalanced seesaw.  They have #'s on their bellies- for example 1-8 on the left and 1-3 on the right.  There are more bears on the ground.  You can add or take away bears to make it balance.  
Subtraction- An apple tree has 9 apples on it.  At the top of the page it reads- If 8 apples fall, how many remain?  1,2,3 are your answers.  You can touch and make 8 apples fall off, leaving one.
Sorting- medium level has 6 dogs on a bench.  You drag them in size order from small to large.  Or, in numeral order, or light to dark...
Pattering-  on medium level there is an AAB pattern in a beach scene; duck duck xylophone, duck ? and four choices for the next object.  Next are ABCD and ABB and ABC patterns.
Feed the Hippo- you are asked to feed the hippo a specific # of food items off a plate.  Of the activates in this app I think this is the weakest.  I don't think it's challenging enough even on level 3 for my students.  However, the strength of the other activities make up for this activity's simplicity.  And the kids do like feeding the hippo.

So, altogether there are 7 activities, and three difficulty levels...  and it's a great app for pre-k-1 math practice.  

Another math app I have used in my classroom is Toddler Counting (TT* rating 4/5 stars) -just don't read the toddler part of the title to the kids!  the app icon is 123, and the app is simple.  A certain # of objects are displayed (two difficulty levels- although I have only seen #'s from 2-20 so far.)  I introduced it to my students using the document camera by having them guess how many (estimation skills- just make sure to "flash" the screen then cover otherwise they will count, not guess.)  Then one student touches each object- the number is displayed and read aloud as each is touched.  Then a new group of objects pops up- guess and count.  As I said, this is simple... but some of my kids need to work on 1:1 correspondence and the others will benefit from estimation practice.  I think this cost $.99.    Skills: Number recognition, counting to 20 (at least), 1:1 correspondence, practicing point to count, and more.  

Yes we could do this with the teddy bear counters, but the teddy bears don't count with you or show the number.  Plus... there's one teacher in my class and 23 students who need to practice counting.  7 kids can use my iPads, while I work with another group, and the other groups play math games or use math manipulatives.  I bought this one specifically for my struggling counters/number recognizers.  I think it beats flash cards anyday.

The last "math app" that is dock worthy- again, the apps that I have kids use during centers so I know they are on task and working on specific skills- is 123 Tracer (4/5 stars on my TT* rating scale)- there's a dino on the icon.  This app has a free version, I of course paid for the full once I determined I liked it (did I mention my app addiction?).  Since there is a lite version I am not going to go into detail about this app.  However, the full version has numbers 1-10, 1-25, 1-50, 1-100 that can be done (activities are  writing #'s , counting, addition, subtraction in random mode or sequentially.  It has some place value practice, connect the dots.... and more.  Try the lite version!  

Be sure to tell me if you've discovered a great math app.  Or website that doesn't have ads.  

*Teaching tools should improve traditional learning activities by:
1.)  saving time.
2.)  allow for differentiation to meet each child's learning needs.
3.)  motivating reluctant learners.
4.)  make learning fun.

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