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Best subtraction apps for kids

Best subtraction apps for kids
Help your child build their confidence, speed and accuracy with subtraction with these games-based maths apps that'll make learning fun.

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.

Best for KS1

Subtraction with Ibbleobble, 99p, Apple

Subtraction with Ibbleobble is ideal for KS1 children. They choose which animal ‘friend’ to play with from a selection of seven, with each character representing a different difficulty level. They can then select which degree of difficulty they’d like within that bracket: easy, medium and hard.

Your child is presented with a sequence of subtraction questions, with three possible answers to select from. Each correct answer is rewarded by a positive affirmation, such as ‘I like it!’ or ‘Amazing!’ plus a reward for their character (for example, cheeses for Mr Mousey).

The lower levels feature simple single-digit subtractions, and your child has unlimited chances to answer. In the higher levels, problems are more complicated and they play against the clock, helping them build speed and fluency in their mental subtraction skills. Their top scores are recorded so they can try to better their previous results over time.

Best for making learning fun

Eggy Subtract to 20, £1.99, Apple

Renowned reading programme Reading Eggs has branched out into maths apps, and hit the nail on the head with Eggy Subtract to 20. It’s designed to help children become secure in all their subtraction number facts to 20: the basic calculations that they should all be able to solve instantly.

The app features six mini games, each challenging your child’s subtraction skills in a slightly different way. Snowboarder, for example, is a downhill racing game where they have to collect flags bearing subtraction problems that match the number at the top of the screen, while Monsters involves dragging the cake with the correct answer onto a monster’s plate for them to gobble up. Each game has several different levels, and your child can collect cute critters called Mashies as a reward.

The real appeal of this app is its generous helping of humour. Pie-throwing grannies, monsters with revolting table manners and a robot who pinches the mad scientist’s bottom will get your child giggling, and they’ll hardly notice they’re practising their subtraction skills.

Best for incentives

Squeebles Add & Subtract, £2.99, Apple and Android

The Squeebles are a friendly bunch of monsters, and the stars of a suite of maths apps. Squeebles Add & Subtract lets your child focus on one operation at a time, or challenge themselves with a mixture of addition and subtraction questions.

In Subtract mode, your child can choose from four levels of difficulty, from single-digit problems to tricky questions involving tens and hundreds. They’re also pitted against the clock as a challenge of their mental maths skills.

Each round of questions gives your child 10 calculations to tackle. As an incentive, they earn a turn on the racing game Squeeble-Cart for every correct answer. They also have the chance to unlock new Squeebles to race their cart, and earn stars that they can cash in for faster, flashier carts.

The app automatically adds questions that your child gets wrong to the ‘Tricky Questions’ area, which gives them extra practice in the problems they struggle with.

Best for understanding number lines

Number Line Galaxy

Number Line Galaxy, £2.99, Apple

Number lines are an important learning tool in KS1, enabling children to get to grips with addition and subtraction by counting on and counting back. Number Line Galaxy will help your child become familiar with using them, with an appealing space theme. You can choose to focus on subtraction (or addition, number bonds or times tables), or challenge your child with a mix of problems.

There are two types of question to help your child practise subtraction. One involves them moving their robot along the number line to solve the question shown on screen; the other involves them dragging the correctly numbered battery pack to their robot to enable them to move along the number line and collect aliens.

Questions are grouped into subtraction 1-5, subtraction 1-10, and subtraction 1-20 categories, with each group being unlocked when your child completes the preceding levels. They’re rewarded for their efforts by collecting new body parts to customise their robot, and new aliens to party in their space station.

Best for mental maths

Wipeout Wall (+ & -), 99p, Apple

Wipeout Wall is designed to help children improve their subtraction skills in line with the National Curriculum. Your child has to break down a wall as quickly as possible by tapping the brick that displays the correct answer to each question.

There are four different types of wall of increasing difficulty, which correspond to subtraction using units only; tens and units; and hundreds, tens and units. The app records your child’s best time, with time penalties for wrong answers, so they can see how they’re improving.

Wipeout Wall also has an addition section, where your child can practise adding numbers from 0 all the way up to 1000.

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