With summer almost over, it’s time to fire up your kids’ brain cells. One way to ease them into the rigors of school is to introduce some fun math apps. These three apps score high on kid-appeal while also imparting solid math training.
Bossa Studios Ltd, best for ages 8-14, $3.99, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Rating: 4 stars (out of 4)
Kids embark on an “add-venture” with Twelve, an adorable character whose face is a TV screen showing the number 12. Twelve’s village of Dozenopolis has suffered an attack, and she is on a mission to find and rescue her family. Joining her is a decimal point named Dot and other numbers she meets along her way.
In this platform puzzler, kids help Twelve to navigate dangerous terrain by controlling where she runs, when she jumps and how she uses math to eliminate the many obstacles in her way. Some obstacles can be eradicated by changing Twelve’s face value. She does this by entering special machines (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) that allow her to combine with other numbers she has found along the way. Other obstacles can be overcome by Twelve’s changing her face value into a special number such as five, which allows her to swim.
The Kid-Appeal: With lots of falling debris and a color palate that is predominately black, kids feel as if they are navigating a dangerous world. Couple this suspenseful environment with an interesting story, filled with droll humor delivered by comedian Lucy Montgomery, and the result is a game with a quirky vibe, similar to that of award-winning World of Goo HD. Even better is the way that doing math isn’t an “add-on,” rather it is the core of the gameplay. Kids solve order-of-operations puzzles to succeed.
The Counting Kingdom
Rating: 3.5 stars
Monsters are invading your kingdom! Luckily, each cute monster can be banished by doing a magic spell that incorporates its number into an equation. The monsters appear on a grid in front of your castle. By adding together the monsters’ numbers, that are contiguous, players can select from three possible spells (sums) to exile the troublesome attackers. With 30 levels presented in five unique locations, kids will do a lot of adding as they wield magic throughout this kingdom.
The Kid-Appeal: This game is a tower defense strategy game, similar in format to the wildly popular Plants vs. Zombies game. But instead of defeating attacking zombies with weapon-wielding plants, in The Counting Kingdom, kids defeat attacking monsters with math equations. Between the fast-paced monster attacks and the constantly evolving new potions and power-ups to use, this game makes doing math fun.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Hundreds of little blue creatures called Zoombinis need your child’s help to escape the cruel, invasive rule of the evil Bloats. Players repeatedly lead teams of 16 Zoombinis over rugged terrain filled with 12 obstacles. Each obstacle represents a unique logic puzzle to solve. In some, players will need to sort their band of Zoombinis by their attributes of eyes, noses, hair, and feet. For example, in an Indiana-Jones-style cavern, kids need to place the Zoombinis in order by nose color before the giant golden lion statute will lift its paw to let them pass. Likewise, to get a ferryman to row your group across a river, players need to arrange the Zoombinis in a seating order so that each neighbor shares at least one attribute. The puzzles come in four levels of difficulty.
The Kid-Appeal: Kids can’t resist the little oval Zoombinis, each with a unique look and charming personality. Some of their features are intriguing, such as the ones with propellers or roller skates for feet. When kids pick up a Zoombini by touching it, it will twitter and squirm. Also fun are the creatures that are part of the logic puzzles. The two faces carved into the rock at Allergic Cliffs sneeze the Zoombinis off their rope bridge if they don’t like their attributes. And the pizza trolls perform hilarious antics as kids offer them different pizzas in the process of deducing their preferences. Kids think of this game as an adventure to rescue hundreds of cute creatures, whereas parents and teachers see it as a carefully constructed way to teach logical reasoning and data testing.
Zoombinis is based on the widely-popular 1990s edutainment software title called “Logical Journey of the Zoombinis.” In their desire to stay true to the original game, the developers slightly hobbled this new version with some graphics that are too small or dark for a tablet’s screen. Nonetheless, this is a special math game your kids will enjoy.
Bonus Tip: For other great logic games for kids, including ones for younger players, check out the rec list: Apps to Promote Logical Thinking.
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