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Ask Slashdot: Math and Science iOS Apps For Young Kids? 165

Posted by timothy
from the mildly-annoyed-birds dept.
Oyjord writes "I have a very smart and curious 3-year-old daughter. Before anyone tries to derail my query, yes, we get a lot of play time outside with soccer and baseballs, and inside with blocks, Hot Wheels, PlayDoh, etc. However, on the rare occasion that we do sit down with my iPad, I'd like to solicit recommendations for good Math and Science apps for kids. There are hundreds of horribly gender-biased baking apps and Barbie apps for young girls, but they turn my stomach. She has a wonderfully curious mind, and really likes SkyView already, but I feel lost in a sea of pink and Hello Kitty apps."
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Ask Slashdot: Math and Science iOS Apps For Young Kids?

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  • DragonBox (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    My 3.5 year olds were doing algebra with fractions without realizing it.

  • Newtons gravity (Score:5, Informative)

    by codegen (103601) on Friday November 23, 2012 @08:05PM (#42078045) Journal
    YOu try to solve mazes by putting blocks in the righ place to let the ball roll down. My nephew has played that game since he was 3.
    • Re:Newtons gravity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285) on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:07PM (#42079155) Homepage Journal
      There are many games that, as she gets older, will make increasing sense to her and teach her basic physics concepts, mostly mechanics. Gravity is one of them, and it is very good, but I don't know if a three year old can play it.

      Games like No, Human, Tesla toy, and even angry birds, might provide the immediate feedback and simply play to encourage a three year old. Angry Birds Space is especially interesting.

      When she becomes older, Osmos and SimplePhysics is very interesting.

      • Nice suggestions. My three year old loves angry birds, and I think the realistic physics makes it more natural for him predict the consequences of his actions in the context of the game. For teaching him math, right now it's mostly just learning to count, then learning to add.
    • Skip the software (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mrops (927562) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:01AM (#42079441)

      Just something from personal experience. I got my kid bunch of nice learning software for Android. He loved them, played them, learned a lot.

      Then we had our student led parent teacher meeting/conference. Turns out, he doesn't do jack in class because he finds it all too boring. And it is, when he gets to race a car for solving the right question, sticking stuff with glue on paper is rather pale.

      Result... he knows his stuff but is "officially" a C grade student. He is in grade 1 so no worries, however I will skip the software to tame his exitment level.

      • Then we had our student led parent teacher meeting/conference. Turns out, he doesn't do jack in class because he finds it all too boring.

        You found out how to make learning interesting for your kid, and because he can't do well in what is ignorantly a boring and mediocre environment, your plan is to dumb down his learning until he can be pacified with the rest of the sheep?

        Bad plan. Home school, or find a school that can make things interesting.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yes, you definitely seem to be working the wrong way round here. Don't punish the child for being smart, punish the school for being incompetent at dealing with smart kids.

        • by tlhIngan (30335) <<slashdot> <at> <worf.net>> on Saturday November 24, 2012 @03:36AM (#42080235)

          Then we had our student led parent teacher meeting/conference. Turns out, he doesn't do jack in class because he finds it all too boring.

          You found out how to make learning interesting for your kid, and because he can't do well in what is ignorantly a boring and mediocre environment, your plan is to dumb down his learning until he can be pacified with the rest of the sheep?

          Or maybe to teach his children that in life, there WILL be boring parts, and that's perfectly OK? We've basically gotten to the point where if something's not stimulating, it's not worthwhile to do, which is not only a bad attitude, it's positively dangerous as there are many boring tasks that need doing throughout life (think mundane stuff - chores, boring paperwork and stuff at work, etc., you can get away with a lot by skipping it, but eventually you'll have to pay it back).

          Life is not always fun and interesting. And there's a potential fear of overstimulation (probably that combined with diet may make up a bunch of ADHD cases - if you don't achieve a level of stimulation, people's minds wander).

          Sure the kid's not old enough yet to have much discipline or know about stuff like that, but sometimes boredom IS a wonderful thing that can lead to enhanced creativity.

          Heck, most first time jobs will be pretty boring, repetitive and utterly dull, but it's a way to get some spending money

          • Or maybe to teach his children that in life, there WILL be boring parts,

            And in those boring parts to you make things better or only endure?

            There are enough sheep in the world. Why make another when you know better?

            Life is not always fun and interesting.

            It's at least one of those if you are doing it right.

            Heck, most first time jobs will be pretty boring, repetitive and utterly dull,

            It doesn't have to be. I know better and so should you. My first programming job was very interesting and I learned a ton fro

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Check out Dragonbox. I don't have personal experience, but it has been given good reviews. It's supposedly an innovative way to learn algebra in the form of an iOS/Android/... game.

    • Re:Dragonbox (Score:5, Informative)

      by Thwyx (137997) on Friday November 23, 2012 @08:45PM (#42078351)

      I do have personal experience with this one, and came here to recommend this. I've personally seen a 4 year old get an elementary understanding of algebra from this app. Worth every penny.

      • by zurmikopa (460568)

        I agree. My 2 year old has used this app and (with a good deal of coaching) now has a somewhat intuitive grasp of the idea of canceling things out and other basic algebra concepts. I'm pretty sure he can't explain why it works, but the intuition building has helped his problem solving.

      • Re:Dragonbox (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Pastis (145655) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @01:22AM (#42079797)
        Thanks a lot! Our goal is to teach the K-12 math curriculum in 30 hours. DragonBox is our proof of concept. Expect more goodies from us in the future!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have 3 kids (5, almost 4 and 2). All three love starfall. It's a website and not an app...and we use it on a PC instead of an iPad, but it teaches everything from ABCs and reading up to numeric comparisons and spacial reasoning in 3D. A significant amount of the website is free, but the rest is paywalled for like $35/year. We paid last year and renewed this year. Not a moment of regret.

  • While not technically a science app, I've yet to find a kid who didn't like Cut the Rope. The physics engine in it is a nice introduction to the likes of gravity, elasticity, etc.

    Another good game, albeit for when she gets older, is Fat Birds. It puts you in charge of making birds cross a bridge of your making. It's fun for the parents too. (I've an architect friend who miserably failed to 3-star the couple of levels I tossed at him.)

  • by sideslash (1865434) on Friday November 23, 2012 @08:14PM (#42078113)
    I have young daughters as well, and I have a similar reaction to Barbie dolls and their ilk, primarily because I don't want my daughters (or my son for that matter) to buy into the whole sexualization/objectification of women mindset. However, I don't reflexively avoid gender-targeted toys. Why should boys and girls have to be indistinguishable in their play preferences? What's wrong with the boys deciding that they like Cars and the girls Disney Princesses, as long as their parents are OK with it?

    Don't worry, there are plenty of gender neutral family activities, too. I teach them all to shoot firearms as soon as they're old enough. ;)
    • by jamesh (87723)

      I have young daughters as well, and I have a similar reaction to Barbie dolls and their ilk, primarily because I don't want my daughters (or my son for that matter) to buy into the whole sexualization/objectification of women mindset. However, I don't reflexively avoid gender-targeted toys. Why should boys and girls have to be indistinguishable in their play preferences? What's wrong with the boys deciding that they like Cars and the girls Disney Princesses, as long as their parents are OK with it?

      Don't worry, there are plenty of gender neutral family activities, too. I teach them all to shoot firearms as soon as they're old enough. ;)

      Yes I think going too far is just as bad. My daughters loved their barbie DVD's while my son was more into Ben 10, neither of which I really approve of, but as long as they learn to treat others with respect, and never to let their gender define what they can do[1], I think things will be okay. Boys and girls are different and those differences should be celebrated, but should not limit anything they want to do. I've never once heard them say "but you can't do that because your a girl" so hopefully we're on

      • by _Sharp'r_ (649297)

        The submitter doesn't seem to get that maybe his daughter will prefer Barbie, Hello kitty, pink stuff and baking apps. There's a reason that stuff is marketed to little girls and it's not because someone made up a magical bias. Someone's been listening a bit too much to his "studies" professor and not enough to the reality around him. Just because he's lost in the pink stuff, doesn't mean she will be. Perhaps consider presenting her with some options and asking her what she's interested in?

        One of my daughte

    • Dolls and action figures are wonderful tool for imagination and exploration of relationships, aka soft skills.

      • by dkf (304284)

        Dolls and action figures are wonderful tool for imagination and exploration of relationships, aka soft skills.

        Yes, but they don't need to be highly gender-specific. A teddy bear will work just as well for those types of skills and encourage imagination as well.

    • Too late, you're already more concerned with them than the boy. This effect will 10x stronger in the other males they meet.
    • by PiMuNu (865592)
      There is an interesting study where they gave a bunch of monkeys some dolls and diggers. The female monkeys went to play with the dolls, the male monkeys went to play with the diggers [citation needed, maybe someone into developmental psychology has it]... just one of those things...
  • Apps (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @08:15PM (#42078129)

    Amazing Alex
    Angry Birds
    Cut the Rope
    Dinopedia
    Isaac Newton's Gravity HD
    Google Earth
    Math Bingo
    Math Drills
    Multiponk
    NASA App HD
    PBS Kids
    Scrabble
    The Elements: A Visual Exploration
    Tiny Wings HD
    TinkerBox HD
    WolframAlpha
    Word Bingo

  • My kids love ABC Superstar Kids [apple.com]

    It has fun puzzles, teaches how to draw letters, and you can customize the character.
  • by digitallife (805599) on Friday November 23, 2012 @08:28PM (#42078247)

    The best I've found is MonkeyMath (for math and numbers). My daughter got it when she was 3 and still loves it, a year later.

  • Bobo Explores Light (Score:4, Informative)

    by digitallife (805599) on Friday November 23, 2012 @08:37PM (#42078299)

    Bobo Explores Light is an engaging, entertaining and extremely extensive app exploring light and its consequences. Sounds boring or technical, but they've managed to get an amazing amount of content (we forget how much light affects us and how weird it is!) into a very fun package.

  • In fact, she's not a fan of computers that have those old clunky "mice" anymore... Here's the best of the apps we've found:

    Monkey Preschool Lunchbox https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/monkey-preschool-lunchbox/id328205875?mt=8 [apple.com]

    Of course, the "Cut the Rope" and "Fruit Ninja" games are good in there "can't lose" modes.

    Starfall app (same as the website)

    PBS.org (warning - essentially streaming video - you need to moderate use of this one!)

  • A friend of mine is behind a really well reviewed iPad app called Numbers League. This covers math down to simple addition and subtraction and up to multiplication, division and simple fractions.

    Review: http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2011/07/the-numbers-league-app-improves-on-a-masterpiece/ [wired.com]

    App store link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/numbers-league/id444781544?mt=8&ls=1 [apple.com]

    The app is based on a card game with info and online store here: http://www.bentcastle.com/nl.htm [bentcastle.com]

  • Shameless plug but I wrote this game called "Cato's Hike" to teach kids programming on iOS, preferably iPad but works great on the iPhone too. Unlike other programming games for the iPad this one uses cards to teach kids how to program and goes into relatively advanced topics like loops and memory without actually appearing to teach :) they just play! I think 3 is too young but 5-6 is good to start and 10 and higher should be able to finish it :)

    http://hwahba.com/catoshike
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cat

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      Nice to see that Apple has finally stopped banning programming tutors like that.

      • by Hesh (449135)

        The new update will let you share programs too... I hope they don't block that :) fingers crossed!

      • Nice to see that Apple has finally stopped banning programming tutors like that.

        They only banned them for a period of a few months, and I think even that was dropped about two years ago. There have been other programming tools on the iPad for ages now.

        • by rally2xs (1093023)

          Just don't submit to manufacturers who sell you computers and then "ban" things like programming them. I don't buy ANYTHING that starts with "i" because of that nonsense.

  • Try Quixey app search (where I work):

    https://www.quixey.com/search?q=science+games+for+3+year+olds [quixey.com]

    Or search for sciency things you might want to do with a three-year old:

    https://www.quixey.com/search?q=identify+flowers [quixey.com]
    https://www.quixey.com/search?q=name+animals [quixey.com]

  • by ace37 (2302468) on Friday November 23, 2012 @09:41PM (#42078723) Homepage

    The iOS app Wind Tunnel is a pretty good simplified fluid dynamics solver. It has air entering one side of the screen, exiting the other, and the sides of the screen are free edges. You then draw airfoils or shapes with your fingers and see how the fluid patterns change. You can tweak quite a few parameters. For instance you can change speed, look at pressure and vorticity plots as well as velocity, and introduce particles to see where they go. He spent a lot of time on getting the visualizations to look impressive.

    It's incompressible flow and he said he was forced to sacrificed some exactness (allowing a bit of mass loss vs. the N-S equations in some circumstances) to get the computations to run efficiently on iOS hardware in realtime, so the visualizations are pretty reasonable but the numbers won't be exact. Overall it's a great app with a solid math/science/engineering foundation.

  • Pokemon Red... 'but beware of getting sucked in helping her play it', he said aloud, patiently awaiting White3.
  • I have a boy but in that same age range. I too have been frustrated with the lack of quality apps. Mermaid waters is pretty good with math and matching games, math train is also decent as is superwhy but the best app I've found is Word Wizard. It is the speak and spell you always wanted. Very high quality app. The very best app I've seen is Redshift. Beats all the other star maps hands down. It is pricey but worth every penny. And before anyone gets uptight, no I am not associated with any of the developers
  • DragonBox is a fascinatingly friendly and effective way to teach symbolic arithmetic to children

  • My four year old recommended Monster Physics , tinker box, Umi Numbers, Physics Ball. I've noticed that problem solving is becoming second nature in this young mind

  • My nephews want to play Subway Shuffle [apple.com] every time I bring my iPod Touch. It's a train shuffle game, but with the added twist that each train can only move along tracks of its own color. It's probably a bit too complex for a 3 year old, but in one or two years time your daughter would probably be able to solve the simpler levels. The higher levels are quite challenging even for adults.

  • by Roogna (9643) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:00AM (#42079435)

    Namco's "Isaac Newton's Gravity" puzzler, she worked through all 100 of the puzzles over about a one year period, with only the occasional help from me.
    Minecraft PE, which now that she's older she's getting more into the desktop version instead, but when she was younger I could set her up in creative mode, and it would act simply as an infinite lego set for her. (She also adores real legos as well)

    Neither may seem like straight up math or science, but she's picked up some surprisingly well thought out ideas about physics and architecture from both.

    The Montessorrium apps, like Intro to Math (and Intro to Letters) she got a huge amount of use from, which while just basic as the names would imply was good around that age.

    DragonBox+ is awesome and I highly recommend it, even to adults. It's basically a series of algebraic puzzles, using cards that start off not as numbers.

    When she got curious about elements, we picked up the Nova Elements app, which answered her questions at the time pretty well.

    Most of the rest of the items we've picked up for her for the iPad haven't been specifically science or math based, though a lot of book style apps. She's a big fan of Curious George, the Bartleby Buttons book/apps, and anything about DIsney's Cars. The new Reading Rainbow app has been great too, as it came out just as she was really starting to read on her own, so it's given her a lot of material to easily choose from.

  • Algebra Touch is an amazing app that demonstrates how variables work in algebraic equations, highly recommended. Maybe too high level for a 3 year old but it's about as mathy as iOS can get.
  • How about Shodor's Math Flyer [shodor.org]? Perhaps a little too advanced, but then again, maybe not.
  • Out soon is a game that looks like it might be approachable even to a three year old, and to any gender - Lemurs Chemistry [le.mu.rs].

    It should be out any day now (I didn't work on it but I know some of the people that did).

  • This is a great letter recognition, word recognition and reading app for that age group that has a great variety of mini games that handle progression, fight boredom. I wish it had math because I think the quality is great.

    Smarty Pants School

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smarty-pants-school/id403824279?mt=8

  • Imagine what would have happened if your mom decided that she has a very artistic and sensitive 3 year old boy and restricted your activities to ONLY knitting and tea sets. I think it would kind of hurt your chances of procreating. Let her be familiar with what her friends are into and what she will still appreciate, despite being smart and curious. Nobody is telling you have to stop with that of course. LunchBox is a good all around puzzle game. Think also of general apps like Garageband for learning music

    • To add to this I would find a wide variety of apps and not worry about the Pink/Barbie factor

      If you can have this convo with a boy wanting to date your daughter in like 10 years you have "won" the Raise a Girl Game

      You: Okay son we need to get a few things clear before you can date my daughter seriously these are the rules

      1 You will come to our door ON TIME for each date
      2 She will have a good time and you will be a Gentleman
      3 She will be back here before %time%
      4 if you decide to date other girls instead of h

  • Another physics game. The first levels are easy enough for a young child, and our little girl loves it. With the fans, boards, and other mechanisms its a good introduction to gravity and other forces.

  • There's a website called 10monkeys [10monkeys.com] which is aimed at exactly that age group. The website is designed to work well on an iPad as well.

  • In my opinion, the best iOS game is COGS. Its a puzzle suitable for all ages... Just play it yourself and let her play once...I am sure she will love it.
  • by sootman (158191)

    And/or Google Earth. My little guy loves both, even more now that both have 3D stuff. Entertaining and educational on many levels. At the most basic, it's just plain fun to spin and push things around.

  • I have a 4yr and 2yr old girls, so I have read other comments with interest. Will definitely be trying some of those out. I've only used Amazing Alex and agree its a great puzzle for my 4yr old.

    Here are some of my own suggestions.

    Motion Math Hungry Guppy - For very simple addition. You need to join together bubbles holding 1, 2 or 3 dots to make a new bubble matching the number stuck on the side of a cute orange fish, which then swims over and eats the matching bubble and gets bigger and bigger until end

  • My daughter worked all the way through this app on my iPhone when she was 4; If we get an iPad this Xmas, we're getting the Hello Kitty apps first.

    We also have the pencil-n-paper Umizoomi boxes and some of the Hello Kitty workbooks and flashcards; this seems to make the transition to her PK class easier.

  • If a child is smart then the child's parents are probably smart too.

    You can write your own app to teach your child and your child can help you write it. That's what I did for my son (not that I implying that I'm smart). He was happy to "help" write the app, he is fairly happy to use it, and it's been a great help for him: he's been learning math in spite of the nonsense that's being taught at school.

  • Both my 4 and 7 year olds love Monster Physics. And by the same author, Stack the States and Stack the Countries are excellent for geography.
  • Where's my water is good. Fun, problem solving type game.

  • by Niobe (941496)
    Tozzle on the apple store was a hit with my daughter at 1 and 2, possibly a lot bit basic for a 3 year old but try it out. If nothing else she will master it in a couple of weeks and move on to something else. Apart from that my almost 4 yo is onto Angry Birds!

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