Drive About: Number Neighborhood

Age Scale: 2-6
Device: iPhone, iPod, and iPad
Quick Line: Cruise into Early Math
What Educators Need to Know:
Gentlemen, start your engines… Drive About: Number Neighborhood is finally here and ready for exploration!

Give your little learner the green light with this new app from Artgig! As we’ve come to expect from this innovative company, Drive About: Number Neighborhood is a delightful adventure for the toddler/preschool set, introducing them to concepts such as counting, ordering, matching, number identification, and number writing.


Toot Toot! Start your tour by visiting the slippery Sea Pickles. Whack those with the target number as they pop up from their holes. Next, it is Whale Feeding time! Slingshot cabbages into your adorable buddy’s mouth Angry-Birds-style. Skyrocket into Cloud Writing and trace numbers from one to ten. Drive on and use your Construction Blocks to stack numbers to 20 correctly. Strive to balance your See-Saw sums with either individual numbers or combinations of a few. March on to clean up the ‘hood by counting and using a Space Vacuum. Don’t forget to visit the Bakery where you will decorate your cut-out cookies with matching toppings. Catch the snowboarding yak on your way downhill, and help him touch the flags in order. Tired yet? Relax by expressing your artistic ability, or lack thereof, and Paint by Numbers.

Whew! Sounds like a lot of practice doesn’t it? Well, you are correct, but it is FUN! My three-year-old has been visiting this Number Neighborhood frequently.  And even though he pretends not to, my six-year-old hits the town often as well. The graphics are endearing and the sound effects are a hoot! Best of all, the games are designed to provide your students and children with a foundation to mathematical thinking. Numbers, reasoning, critical thinking, and problem solving are all represented with this one app. In all honesty, I can’t see how little ones wouldn’t learn from this app!

Price: $2.99 and worth every penny


123 Kids Fun Numbers

123 kids fun numbers
Age Scale: 2 and up
Device: iPhone, iPod, and iPad
Quick Line: Numbers are Fun, For Sure!
What Educators Need to Know:
123 Kids Fun Numbers is part of a series of apps by Ros Media. It was the first however, that I had the opportunity to try, and it does not disappoint. It is designed so that learners will be able to say the numbers 1-10, represent the numbers on fingers, and eventually write the numbers. I found that it lead my little D to meet these objectives, although he has a ways to go before he can actually write the numbers on paper.

As a parent or teacher, you can approach the app from one of two ways: by number or by activity. I would suggest completing the simple activities that accompany each number first, and boy, are they fun! D loves putting the robot together (1), quieting the crying babies (4), spreading jam on the sandwiches (7), and washing the 10 cars. (My sons are currently obsessed with the car wash near my parents’ house.) The other activities get more and more challenging and require the child to identify the numbers at random. You can feed the hippo, make fruit juice, whack a meerkat, race cars, put the meerkat on airplanes, and complete puzzles. All encourage counting and number matching skills, and children are rewarded with items to place in an aquarium.

The most challenging activity for my young one is the tracing game. At age two, he struggles, and that is OK. I can help him! But that’s something I want to stress here: yes, many children can perform the activities with this app without assistance. However, it is important that you interact with them as they complete them. D loves when he can hand off the device to me to trace the numbers that are difficult. I thought he would learn to avoid those that are difficult, but with my guidance, he seems to gravitate to them instead! You cannot discount the importance of parental involvement.

Price: $1.99

Annie’s Picking Apples 2

annies picking app

Age Scale: 2-6

Device: iPad

Quick Line:  Perfect Preschool Pick

What Educators Need to Know:

Traveling for the holiday?  Looking to maintain skills over a break?  Annie’s Picking Apples 2 will help you with this.  And the best part?  It will PROVE that your child is learning!

annies picking mapWorking with Annie will help your child develop number awareness and counting skills to 20.  There are 27 “worlds” or activities in this educational game.  There are four primary categories:  counting games (blue icons), making pies (yellow icons), puzzles (puzzle piece icons), and trophies (trophy icons).  The content is heaviest in the blue areas.  Children will encounter five games including classifying, sorting, memory, catching, and throwing.  Making apple pie seems to be designed to provide fun as children will slice butter, pour milk, crack and egg, etc. to make a pie.  Although there are few pieces, the puzzles can be a challenge as children must drag and turn pieces to complete.  Trophies are awarded for the completion of each category.  Not every icon will be focused on math, but I believe the design will eliminate burnout for younger learners.

All of this might seem ordinary, but what sets this app apart are its performance trackers.  Entering the parent area via a double-digit math problem will provide a series of five choices.  The first is a parent report.   As you know, my classroom instruction is data-driven, and I can do the same at home with this app.  I can see my child’s performance on each of the five games in the following areas:  number awareness, visual pairing, and concentration.  Not sure what all this means?  Click info, and a description is provided.  I can also see when my child has played each activity in the activity log.  If you are a preschool or kindergarten teacher, this would be a great alternative to black and white assessments!

annies picking reportAnother fabulous feature are its controls.  The parent portal provides recommendations on how to change the iPad’s configurations to meet the needs of individual children.  You can increase time limits, stop puzzle pieces from locking, set a time control for multiple users, and set time limits for overall app use.  You can also clear reports when transitioning from one child to another.  All of these options will provide safe and healthy usage for younger students and students with special needs.

On the whole, Annie’s Picking Apples is really terrific.  Kids will be pleased with the games.  Parents will be pleased with the controls.  And teachers will be pleased with the reports.  I would highly recommend this app for preschool, kindergarten, and special needs children.

Price:  $2.99




Mystery Math Town

Age scale: 6-10

Device: iPad only

Quick Line: No Smoke and Mirrors Here!

What Educators Need to Know:

Navigating the Education category in the App Store is sometimes like visiting a haunted house. You rely on your senses to move you in the right direction, only to frequently encounter a dead end. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, I have given you a flashlight. I’m hoping to upgrade to a flood light with this one: Mystery Math Town.

Picture this: you arrive at a spooky old town in the middle of the night. You enter the first house, looking for inhabitants, only to encounter leftover furniture, talking portraits, and a jar for collecting fireflies. Fireflies make you feel less afraid, so you explore the home, solving equations as you go, looking for lightning bugs to soothe you. The portraits make you giggle, and you become even less afraid. If only you had that last numeral to solve a problem with a sum of 10… Better keep looking!

And so your hunt continues. Collecting fireflies leads you to collect gold coins. These are even more valuable as they will earn you the right to keep the talking portraits in your gallery. Besides their entertainment value, these pieces of history will give you clues to the mystery of Math Town, and they will only tell you their stories when safe in your gallery. You are hooked. Better keep looking!

My first grade neighbor and son delighted in the above experience as we first explored this app. Not knowing my neighbor’s ability level, I selected a simplistic skill set including addition and subtraction to 10. Had they been a bit older, I would have upped the ante and set the skill level to adding and subtracting to 20. In a few years, I can challenge them again by selecting multiplication. And just when they think they’ve mastered it, I’ll throw them a curve and add tally marks and dice to replace the numbers. That ought to keep them humble!

Did I mention that they each played their own game on this iPad? You didn’t think little E was going to SHARE did you? Mystery Math Town accommodates multiple users, so you can customize the game for each child. This is reminiscent of just about every other app by Artgig Studios. Tom Cruise had Renee Zellwiger at, “hello.” Artgig has me at, “customizable.” 

In case I was not clear, make a right at the coffin. Ignore the zombies. Turn left at the caldron. And head straight to the App Store and grab Mystery Math Town!

Price: $2.99 (and worth every penny)




Age Scale: 9-adult

Device: iPad

Quick Line: Imagination and Estimation Combined?!

What Educators Need to Know:

Math Teachers, rejoice! Motion Math has developed another great app aimed at internalizing mathematics concepts. Traditional estimating lessons can be so BORING. And often times, they are not practical. But estimation is a lifelong skill – one that adults use on a daily basis. Why not add a little fun to your estimating practice!

Play is simple but effective. Users select a quest they’d like to explore. By combining phrases, an estimation question is developed. For example, How many giraffes…would be as tall as…the Statue of Liberty? Once you’ve made your estimate, you will see your answer and either an explanation of the math used to find the answer or a link to support the correct answer. [Note: I could not, would not, believe that at a yoga mat was only 5.7 feet long. Clicking on “Really?!” sent me to the GAIAM website. I was indeed, wrong.] If your answer is within a predetermined set of target rings, you get points. Points unlock treasures and power-ups. If your answer is outside of the rings, you lose a life. Can you complete your Quest before you lose three lives?

There are three modes: Solo, Pass and Play, and Game Center. I think the Pass and Play mode is terrific. Pair your students and allow them to compete against each other. It requires fewer devices and may allow some cooperative learning to occur! Who doesn’t like a little friendly competition?

Currently, there are four Quests available: Intro, Need for Speed, Amazing Animals, and History of Awesome. The Intro Quest is free; the rest require coin purchases. 100 coins costs $1.99 which is enough to unlock Amazing Animals and Need for Speed. History of Awesome requires 70 coins. The developer suggests that additional content will be added.

Please do not shy away from the potential cost of this app. Check it out for yourself with the FREE Intro Quest. You and your kiddos will love it!

Price: FREE (for Intro Quest; additional Quests require purchase)

Questimate! - Motion Math

Motion Math Zoom

Age Scale: 4 and up

Device:  iPhone, iPod, and iPad

Quick Line:  Making Sense of Number Sense

What Educators Need to Know:

Earlier, I reviewed an app called Motion Math and found it to be an excellent resource in the quest to make fractions autonomous.  See my review here.  Motion Math Zoom is in the same realm, only this time, number line mastery is the key.  The first six levels are free, and 18 more are available as an in-app purchase.  Zoom and stretch the number line while popping bubbles to place them in the correct order.  Start slow and place positive numbers to 1000 in order.  Work your way up to negative numbers and decimals.  Yes, fellow teachers, I said decimals!  Motion Math isn’t flashy, but rest assured that the app is research-based and skill- building.  Again, if you are looking to move away from worksheets and integrate technology easily, this is a great tool.

Price: Free for starter levels


Motion Math Zoom - Motion Math