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Buyer's Guide:    Best Math Computer Games for Kids 

 


Our Buyer's Guides help make buying choices easy for consumers. We test hundreds of children's products and strive to keep up to date on the latest releases. Of course, every family is unique. We can't please everyone. However, we are able to select some special titles that are at the top of our "edutainment" list--those that have that extra edge in the categories of design, entertainment, education, and play value. 

Besides the letter grades we give most products, reviews on this site often come with a rating bar chart--a visual breakdown of how the product rates in a number of categories. If you'd like to know more about how software products are rated, click here.

As we test new software and products, we will update these buyer's guides to reflect current availability and up-to-date recommendations. These guides are intended to help parents make sense of the overwhelming choices available to them.

Best Computer Games for Learning and Practicing Math 

The software games we recommend here stand out as educationally valuable and engaging.  

 

 

Ages 3-6

 

coverTransition Math K-1 merges fun and learning through a series of workbook-style exercises on the computer, as well as a printed companion workbook included in the package. 

What does it do? The program includes virtual workbook pages featuring such math fundamentals as counting, shapes, and telling time, that help children make the "transition" from basic preschool math concepts to school math. Here kids will develop skills in sequencing, patterning, counting, relating numbers to number words, grouping items into sets, and telling time. 

Why do we recommend this title? Bright graphics draw children into a game filled with solid drills and exercises. Children are expected to correct their mistakes, providing them with an introduction to school expectations. 

Who is it for? Children making the transition from preschool and Kindergarten math curriculum to first grade.

Our Rating: A

For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Transition Math Grades K-1

 

 

 

Math Missions Grades K-2: The Race to Spectacle City Arcade is a fantastic program from Scholastic that strikes an extraordinary balance between play and learning. This game cleverly involves children in practicing real-world math skills at three difficulty levels appropriate for late Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade--all in one package. 

What does it do? Children attempt to rebuild a city using their math skills. The city is fun, but the store clerks are not very good in math. Kids earn money for the city by playing a variety of fun activities. Children measure, weigh, count money, explore quantities, work with place value, and more, in the fun cartoon setting of Spectacle City.

Why do we recommend this title? The program provides plenty of practice with math skills that children need. The program is fun, encouraging, and creates a wonderfully positive environment for learning.

Who is it for? The range in difficulty levels makes this game excellent for accommodating the often large variance in children's skill levels in early elementary. Late Kindergarteners to second graders.

Our Rating: A+

See our full review of this excellent software here, and our screenshot gallery of the game here.

For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Math Mission K-2 With Bonus Card Game (Kindergarten - 2nd Grade) (DVD Box)

 

 

 

coverStuart Little Learning Adventures doesn't follow the Stuart Little movie's story line at all, but it does "star" the lovable mouse. Truly packed with educational activities, this program contains 2 CD-ROMs, each featuring activities based on language arts, visual arts, and math curriculum for early elementary-age children. 

What does it do? The program is not particularly fast-paced, and it doesn't tie in with the movie's story, but it is very creative and clever in its presentation of educational concepts. More activities than you count are featured in this set that takes children through number recognition to counting to addition and subtraction and more.

Why do we recommend this title? This is one of those rare programs that can last for a very long time, and the time invested into it will be very well spent. It is especially original for its introduction of visual arts concepts and early math skills.

Who is it for? Large range in difficulty levels makes the game appropriate for children as young as 4 and as old as 7 or 8.

For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Stuart Little Learning Adventures

 

 

Ages 6-9

 

coverAchieve! Math & Science Grades 1-3 bundles a number of titles together to create one very educational package for children on the younger end of the suggested age group.

What does it do? Two of the four titles in the package are math titles: Mighty Math Carnival Countdown and Mighty Math Zoo Zillions offer a range of unique activities that exercise children's early math skills. Children learn money math, 3D geometry, addition, subtraction, place value, and more with these titles. Sammy's Science House offers a nice exploration of early science concepts like weather, animals, and seasons. The fourth title, Thinkin' Things Fripple Town is a wonderful exercise in both art and logic. 

Why do we recommend this title? Children explore math and science concepts in ways that stretch their thinking and offer them a chance to truly understand the concepts, rather than basic rote learning.  

Who is it for? Best for first and second graders who prefer open-ended games to fast-paced arcade or adventure programs.

For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Achieve! Math & Science Grades 1-3

 

 

 

Time, Money & Fractions: Grades 1-2 includes a CD-ROM featuring "electronic workbook" pages, as well as a printed School Zone workbook. Three important math subjects are the focus of this very useful set. The format is wonderful: children work through workbook-style pages on-screen, step by step. Each page is graded as soon as it is completed, so that kids get immediate feedback. Children are encouraged throughout the program, but the title virtually insists that kids go back to the pages with errors so that they can correct them! This format mirrors the type of learning that is encountered in school. 

What does it do? Kids learn to tell time, count coins, and work with fractions through the CD-ROM's 30 workbook pages. Kids are rewarded with arcade-style games. Three different experimental activities allow children to work with each featured math subject. For example, kids can change the numerator and denominator of a fraction and see what kind of effect the change has on an object. Children correct the pages containing errors before they can earn a certificate.

Why do we recommend this title? This program has just enough bells and whistles to make workbook-style math activities fun. Children can experiment with the three featured math concepts, making this program more than just a math drill.

Who is it for? The program is designed around first and second grade curriculum. Appropriate for children ages 6-7 or 8.

Our Rating: A

See our full review of this excellent software here.

For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Time, Money, & Fractions Grades 1-2

 

 

coverMath 1 is an electronic workbook CD-ROM with high replay value. It is amazing how easy it is to get kids to practice math facts with these colorful and fun programs! Each is packaged with a SchoolZone workbook for off-computer use. 

What does it do? Children progress through 30 virtual worksheets and are rewarded with arcade-style games. Addition, subtraction, and even story problems are featured. Children correct the pages containing errors before they can earn a certificate.

Why do we recommend this title? This program has just enough bells and whistles to make workbook-style math activities fun.

Who is it for? Right on target for first graders, although beginning first-graders might find it slightly difficult. It is also appropriate as a review of math skills learned in grade one.

For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Math 1

 

 

 

coverMath 2 is an electronic workbook CD-ROM with high replay value. It is amazing how easy it is to get kids to practice math facts with these colorful and fun programs! Each is packaged with a SchoolZone workbook for off-computer use. 

What does it do? Comprised of 30 virtual workbook pages, as well as arcade-style games and animated rewards, this title will please parents looking for an engaging method to help drive home second grade math facts. Entirely age-appropriate drills are featured, and kids will work with math "fact families", number lines, place value, and addition and subtraction with regrouping. Children practice skip counting with a connect the dots activity, reorganize numbers (up to 100) in numerical order, explore fact families, practice addition and subtraction with regrouping (using an onscreen notepad), create number sentences, and more. In between these serious skill-building exercises, they play arcade-style games like guiding a kangaroo in a race that requires precise timing of jumps over objects in the way. A companion printed workbook is included in the package.

Why do we recommend this title? Straightforward, bright presentation captures and holds children's attention. Children enjoy the game, while parents appreciate the game's clear educational agenda.

Who is it for? Right on target for second graders.

Our Rating: A-

See our full review of this excellent software here.

For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Math 2

 

 

 

coverMia's Math Adventure: Just in Time offers a fun, though sometimes slow-moving, adventure in which children direct Mia the Mouse on a mission to travel back in time and put a stop to a nasty fire in her grandma's house. The math activities she encounters along the way are multi-level and of high quality, and problem-solving skills are needed. 

What does it do? Kids solve multiple small problems as they progress through a scavenger hunt-style adventure. They encounter math activities along the way. Four different levels of difficulty are featured for the activities only (not the adventure itself): one for each grade from first to fourth grade. Depending on the level selected, kids do addition, subtraction, multiplication, time-telling, geometry, and other such exercises.

Why do we recommend this title? A variety of educational skills are addressed in this engaging, graphic-rich adventure. While the program doesn't teach math explicitly, it does offer plenty of opportunities for kids to practice it.

Who is it for? Although the activities are multi-level (covering grades one through four) and can be played independently of the adventure, the adventure itself demands some patience and follow-through, making it most suitable for children ages 8-9 who enjoy a challenge.

Our Rating: A

For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Mia's Math Adventure: Just In Time!

 

 

Ages 9-up

 

Math Missions Grades 3-5: The Amazing Arcade Adventure

This is an excellent program for a variety of math exercises within the context of an adventure.

What does it do? Children attempt to rebuild a city by helping out store clerks who are not very adept at math. Kids earn money by playing a variety of activities found in the city. Kids do real-world math problems in graphing, fractions, rounding off, percentages, and more--and they work towards owning and managing an arcade.

Why do we recommend this title? This CD-ROM strikes an excellent balance between fun and learning. 

Who is it for? Three difficulty levels are intended to cover third to fifth grade math. The program is likely to be too challenging for children just entering third grade, and is therefore best for children working at a 4th-5th grade level.

See our full review of this excellent software here, and our screenshot gallery of the game here.

Our Rating: A+

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Math Mission 3-5 With Bonus Card Game (3rd - 5th Grade) (DVD Box) at Amazon.com]

 

 

CyberChase Carnival Chaos

coverDeductive thinking skills and mathematical concepts are exercised as kids play this CD-ROM based on the award-winning PBS television show.  

What does it do? Kids recover a Mega-bolt from the scoundrel Hacker along with the Cyber Squad. Kids play logical thinking activities that have them making estimations, predictions, plans, and deductions--higher-order skills necessary for success in math.

Why do we recommend this title? Strong educational content is delivered subtly through brain-teasing games. Although challenging at times, the game is manageable and engaging.

Who is it for? Best for children ages 8-11.

See our full review of this excellent software here.

Our Rating: A

For more information, user reviews, or to buyCyberchase Carnival Chaos

 

 

coverMath & Science Excelerator Grades 3-6 bundles 4 excellent software programs: two Geosafari CD-ROMs focusing on math, and two Mango Plumo titles that teach science. Lots of skills practice and concepts to learn.

What does it do? The two math titles are based on the Geosafari Knowledge Pad electronic toy. These programs offer math quizzes that feature bright graphics and a scoring format. Decimals, percentages, number lines, fractions, multiplication, and division are the games' focus. The Mango Plumo titles star a perky little bird and feature adventure formats with creative and unique science lessons about weather and space. This package is now bundled with the excellent, kid-friendly World Book encyclopedia, making the package an excellent deal.

Why do we recommend this title? Lots of learning and variety is packed into this bundle. The math quizzes are actually quite fun to complete and feature lots of variety. 

Who is it for? Best for children at a third to fifth grade level.

For more information, user reviews, or to buyEducator's Choice Math & Science Excelerator Grades 3-6 plus bonus World Book Encyclopedia CD

 

 

 

Zoombinis Logical Journey is a software classic starring unusual and endearing little blue creatures called Zoombinis. Logical thinking skills are exercised as children play a challenging and addictive game.

What does it do? Players need to lead bands of Zoombinis to freedom. Along the perilous path, challenges in the form of logic puzzles must be overcome. All center around the Zoombinis' four features--hair, eyes, "feet", and noses--which vary from Zoombini to Zoombini. The puzzles are exciting and exercise kids' logic and mathematical thinking without dealing with numbers.

Why do we recommend this title? The beauty of this title is its equal balance of education and entertainment, with both factors sky-high in value. The puzzles are enormously addictive, and the range in difficulty makes the title appealing to children as young as 7 and as old as 77. This title is a must-have software program. 

Who is it for? Although the target audience is 9 and up, this program is appealing to logical children as young as 7. The game advances in challenge as children succeed.

See our review of this excellent software here.

For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Zoombinis Logical Journey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

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December 2003/Latest update: November 2004
 

 

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