Best beginners’ algebra apps for kids

Best algebra apps for kids
Help your child get to grips with the algebra concepts taught in primary school with apps that help to demystify mathematical equations.

Best for KS1 kids

DragonBox Algebra 5+, £4.99, Apple and Android

Five may seem very young to be thinking about algebra, but DragonBox gives them an early introduction to the concept through games and problem-solving.

Your child’s job is to balance the two sides of the screen by manipulating the cards on each side so that the DragonBox ends up isolated on its side. There are a variety of ways of doing this, including matching two identical cards and matching opposite cards in the right way to make them disappear – in other words, simplifying the equation.

The game gradually teaches your child how to isolate x (in other words, the DragonBox) through five chapters of learning and five of training, with 200 puzzles in total. As they progress, the pictures on the cards are replaced by numbers and variables, helping them start to recognise algebraic notations.

Best for KS2 kids

Astro Algebra, £2.99, Apple

Astro Algebra is a curriculum-aligned app that makes learning algebra fun for kids in KS2 and KS3.

The app features a number of ‘planets,’ each of which focuses on a specific algebra topic, including using simple formulae, generating and describing linear number sequences, and finding the right number to satisfy the unknown value (represented by a letter) in an equation. Each topic has a comprehensive Learning section which clearly explains how to solve the featured equations, a Practise mode to help your child get to grips with the principles involved, and a Challenge mode where they test their knowledge against the clock.

Astro Algebra helps children learn the concepts they’ll need to know in Years 5 and 6 and beyond, and build speed through quick-fire practice. They earn stars through speed and accuracy, and are rewarded by unlocking badges as they play.

Best algebra-learning incentives

Bug Hunter, the secret of algebra, free, Apple and Android

Bug Hunter casts your child as a space agent in search of alien bugs, teaching them algebraic principles along the way. Their job is to travel through space, collecting gems by balancing simple equations.

The initial stages of the game use symbols that your child has to match up to eliminate them and claim their gem. As they progress, the equations become more complex, and algebraic symbols and concepts are introduced: for example, matching 1 with -1 eliminates both symbols, leaving your child free to collect their gem. And to make things harder, they’re playing against the clock.

With five planets to explore and rewards to earn including stars, spaceships and alien bugs, the app will help your child understand concepts such as equals, opposites, inverse operations, simplifying equations and solving for x.

Best for eliminating distractions

Basic Fraction Deluxe, £2.99, Apple

This is a very simple, no-frills app that drills your child in manipulating fractions, including an introduction to algebra.

Your child is presented with a series of calculations involving fractions, where one of the numbers is replaced by x. Their task is to use the answer to work out the value of x, using addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. The answer is either a proper fraction, mixed fraction or whole number. Basic Fraction Deluxe also gives children practice in adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions using word problems and two-player Noughts and Crosses games.

The app lacks bells and whistles, but while this potentially reduces its child appeal, it means they can concentrate on solving calculations without distraction. It presupposes a certain level of knowledge, as it doesn’t actually explain how to perform the calculations, but there are web links to videos that will help you explain the concepts to your child.

Best gameplay

Fifth Grade Learning Games, £3.99, Apple and Android

Children learn best when their activities are fun. Fifth Grade Learning Games – an app that covers the American curriculum, but is also relevant to UK kids – turns algebra into a rather addictive game, helping them practise maths skills without the moaning.

The app involves your child trying to stop a line of bugs from entering their house by solving simple algebra problems to find x and tapping the bug bearing the correct answer to knock it back. It includes addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems, with rewards for your child to earn by getting the answers right.

Fifth Grade Learning Games also offers 14 other educational games, including fractions, geometry, science and reading – although we’d advise caution when using the literacy-based games due to American spelling and grammar rules.

Best for daily practice

All Simple Math, £1.99 (ad-free version), Apple

This app is a good way to familiarise your child with simple equations using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

It features a range of maths activities, including tasks introducing basic algebra. Equation Solver involves your child finding the missing number in a calculation, represented by ?; you can choose which of the four operations to focus on. Algebraic Equations takes things a step further, and requires your child to find the value of x in a given equation, which could involve any of the operations. It also introduces the use of brackets.

With just five questions per round, All Simple Math is a good way to build short bursts of practice into your child’s day. It also covers other maths skills, including word problems and comparing equations to determine if the answer is equal to, less than or greater than a given value.

Best homework aid

yHomework Math Solver, £4.99 for unlimited ad-free access, Apple and Android

yHomework is a really useful app that allows children to check their answers to algebraic equations.

Your child simply types in their equation along with the answer they have come up with, and the app’s inbuilt ‘geek’ checks their solution and breaks the problem down into its constituent steps so they understand how to tackle it. The breakdown can be a little tricky to read, so your child may need your help, but it’s a great way to review their homework and clarify solutions if they’re unsure.

The app covers everything from finding a single unknown to quadratic equations, graphs and prime factorisation, making it helpful for children in KS2 and into their secondary school years. The free version includes ads, but you can buy credits from 99p for 10 equations, or £4.99 for unlimited ad-free access.

Best for building speed

Maths Algebra, 99p (ad-free version), Apple

Maths Algebra is a learning game for kids that challenges them to solve algebraic equations against the clock.

It presents your child with rounds of 100 questions (which, thankfully, can be paused!) of gradually increasing difficulty, starting with simple addition problems where they have to find the value of x, and introducing more complex equations using multiple steps and new operations as they progress. Their challenge is to work out the answer before the time runs out, helping them become faster and more accurate in solving algebraic equations.

A free version of the app is available, but as this hits your child with an ad every time they get an answer wrong, it’s well worth investing 99p in the ad-free edition.

Best tutorials

Hands-On Equations 1, £2.99, Apple and Android

Many apps presuppose an understanding of algebra, but Hands-On Algebra 1 – aimed at kids aged eight and over – is different in that its clear tutorials explain the principles your child needs to understand before challenging them to start solving algebra problems.

Each level begins with a clear video lesson demonstrating how to solve the type of problem featured in that level. Your child can then practise those equations, with 10 different exercises per level. Each equation is represented by a set of scales, with the unknown value, or x, represented by a blue pawn and the known values as number cubes; your child’s task is to work out the value of the pawn to balance the scales.

As your child completes each set of exercises, the next level and its video tutorial is unlocked, taking them from basic ‘find x’ equations through to simplifying equations. There is also a Hands-On Equations 2 app, aimed at older kids or those who have completed Hands-On Equations 1.

Best interactive app

Algebra Touch, free, Apple

In algebra, we often use terms such as ‘drag’ and ‘eliminate’, which can be hard to explain to kids.

Algebra Touch makes this easy, using your device’s touchscreen to teach your child how to manipulate the terms in equations. It harnesses the power of multisensory learning to help grow their understanding. For example, they can tap the operator to add/subtract/multiply/divide the terms in a problem, drag them from one side to the other to balance the equation, drag a line through two equal terms to eliminate them, and so on.

The app covers topics including simplification, like terms, order of operation (BODMAS) and prime numbers, with a clear explanation of how to tackle each type of equation as well as lots of practice problems to test your child’s mastery.