Best beginners’ algebra apps for kids
The apps reviewed are not produced or distributed by TheSchoolRun. All details were correct when we reviewed them, but please note that some apps can be very short-lived and may become unavailable to download. We are unable to guarantee that the app listings we provide are completely up-to-date at all times.
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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 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.
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 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.
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.