Best games-based maths apps for kids
Best two-player game
Your child moves their fish forwards by answering maths questions correctly. They can choose what type of question to focus on: addition, subtraction, addition and subtraction combined, multiplication and division. If they get a question wrong, their fish stalls and their opponent will gain ground.
You can choose the level of difficulty according to your child’s ability. In addition mode, for example, beginner’s level questions involve adding two single-digit numbers, while extra hard features three-digit additions, such as 109+173: a good test of your child’s mental maths ability. Multiplication and division questions involve numbers up to 12x12.
Your child can play against a real-life opponent, each controlling one half of the screen; you can tailor the level of difficulty based on their ability. Alternatively, they can compete with a virtual Squeeble opponent: will they go for slow and steady Min, or super speedy Crunch?
Best for KS2
Intended for children aged nine and over, Marble Math features a range of different problems, ranging from simple additions and subtractions to adding negative integers, sequencing, decimals, adding fractions and simplifying equations.
When your child gets an answer right, it unlocks the next marble maze, with a new question. There are rewards to collect and obstacles to avoid along the way, and your child can also earn stars that can be exchanged for new marbles to use in the game.
Best for reluctant mathematicians
Your child is given a to do list with three tasks to complete as they race around the film set. Two are not maths-based (e.g. ‘collect 10 stars’ or ‘jump over five obstacles'). The third involves finding a member of the crew and helping them with an everyday maths-focused task, such as balancing the lighting rig by adding weights to one side, or calculating how much an actor should be paid based on their hourly rate and hours worked.
Your child has to complete all three tasks to be given the next to do list; once they’ve worked through six lists, they progress to the next level with new achievements to add to their CV.
The drawback is that there is relatively little maths content in the game, but the fact that it’s embedded in gameplay will help it appeal to children who are reluctant to practise maths at home.
Best for working on weaker areas
You can choose what sort of problems your child tries to solve – addition, subtraction, times tables, division or a mixture of operations – and also the level of difficulty. These range from problems involving single digits (5+5) up to complex calculations like 95/19.
If your child is stuck on a problem, they can press the question mark button for a visual hint such as a number line to help them with their calculation. If they get a question wrong, that square of the bingo grid disappears – and the more answers they get wrong, the harder it becomes to complete a line and shout ‘bingo!’
Your child collects new interactive pets for their pet pen by winning a game of bingo, as well as food to tempt them with. Their report card tracks their progress in the various different types of calculation, so you can see exactly what sort of problems they need to spend more time on.
Best for bespoke learning
Monsters Maxx and Dextra are best friends, but Dextra has been captured by the evil minions (not the Despicable Me variety!). As Maxx, your child’s mission is to defeat the minions by answering maths questions to earn candies and release Dextra.This app allows you to set your child’s own curriculum by selecting the question types you’d like them to answer. There’s a wide range of categories including equal to; less than; addition within 10; times tables; addition with and without carrying; subtraction with and without borrowing; factors of numbers to 100; and prime numbers.
As your child makes their way around the island, they’ll confront different minions to take on, and the number of correct answers they need to progress increases.
The basic version includes 40 maths skills, while the genius version offers six different maths games covering elements like geometry, decimals and pre-algebra, as well as printables to extend your child’s learning.
Best for early learning
There are nine different categories of question for your child to tackle: sorting and matching; counting to three; lines and patterns; counting four to six; where is it? (using positional language); counting seven to 10; patterns and shapes; numbers one to 10; comparing; and adding and taking away.
The learning activities are designed to appeal to young children, with games such as matching pairs and odd one out. When your child has completed all the exercises in a category, they’re rewarded with a personalised certificate which you can print and stick on their bedroom wall.
Best for a broad curriculum
Skidos Race Cars for Kids, £6.49 per month or £4.58 per month with a 12-month subscription, Apple or AndroidIf your child is mad about racing games, they’ll love using Skidos to practise their maths skills. The app involves racing a monster truck through various different tracks and circuits, competing in single- or multiplayer mode.
For each race completed, your child is challenged to answer two maths questions to collect their prize money, which can be spent on new cars. You can select your child’s ability level and the type of questions you’d like them to answer.
Topics covered include addition and subtraction up to 1000; multiplication up to 100; adding and subtracting 10s and 100s; fractions; decimals; place value; mean and range; geometry and more.
Best for mental maths practice
Maths Dots Puzzles: Dinosaurs, £1.99, Apple
Help your child hone their mental maths skills with this clever app that will tick all the boxes with dinosaur lovers.
Your child has to choose an operation to practise (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) and a level (easy, medium or hard). They’re then challenged with a series of maths problems; each time they click a correct answer, a line on the dot-to-dot puzzle is filled in. Once the dots are all connected, the outline transforms into a dinosaur that your child can colour with their finger.
There are also Fairy Dots, Pirates and Trucks versions of the app to tap into a variety of children’s interests. Each features a total of 32 different puzzles to complete.
Best for KS1
Maths with Springbird, £2.99 for Learner pack or £3.99 for Master pack, AppleMaths with Springbird is designed for children aged four to eight, and focuses on the skills they’ll acquire in KS1 and lower KS2.
The aim of the game is for your child to help their bird climb the tree and collect worms by answering maths problems correctly. As they progress, they pick up keys to release new birds from their cages and hear them sing. The worms they collect are currency for the dress shop, where they can buy accessories for their birds.
There are two different packages available. The cheaper Learner pack includes counting by 5; counting by 10; counting back from 2, 4, 5, and 10; shape recognition; shape sequences; and number sentences. The Master pack also includes coin recognition; coin arithmetic; multiplication (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 and 10 times tables) and a bonus level mixing all question types.
Best for building basic skills
iLearn is a suite of apps that covers literacy, language, science and maths. Their maths app introduces three fundamental principles: counting, ordering and calculating.
In Count, your child has to work out how many ingredients are on the chef’s chopping board and select the right number to tip them into the pot. In Calculate, they have to drag the right number of ostriches into or out of the back of a truck to equal a given number. And in Order, they have to make their frog jump across the pond by selecting the lilypads in the right order.
Each category has three levels of difficulty to select from; for example, the easiest level of Order involves ordering single-digit numbers, while the hardest asks your child to count backwards, in twos, in 10s and so on.
You can add up to four children at a time, with a multiplayer mode in Calculate. You can also track your child’s progress in the Parent Centre.