Parents can get involved in what their kids do online by getting to know the sites they visit. Online game sites are popular with kids and can take huge chunks of their time. What if there was a way to throw in some learning in the mix with sites that reinforce skills while keeping most of the fun factor? Many well-maintained sites are available for free that make room for fun with a hidden learning component.
Math-oriented learning sites can be divided into a few categories. While some are designed for high levels of interactivity with lots of multimedia features, many other sites mimic real-world math drills and flashcards used in elementary school classrooms. There are also sites where you can pay someone to do my math homework, because sometimes not only children, but also parents don’t understand some mathematics tasks.
There are also sites that go beyond testing and challenging basic math skills to providing a place to practice critical thinking skills through story or word games.
Fun and Interactive Math Sites
With names such as Design a Party, Weigh the Wangdoodles and Guide the Gecko, Math Playground is a fun-packed site with well-designed games that can provide hours of fun. The games are designed for upper elementary to middle school students and focus on early algebra, geometry and logic puzzles. Most focus on fractions, percent’s and calculator skills. A unique offering at this site is math videos that use animation to teach basic math by showing how problems are done.
Another site with simple arcade style games is Cool Math-Games, featuring many types of learning games. Students can play Crazy Taxi M-12 to learn about odd and even numbers. Using the computer’s arrow keys they can swerve the taxi to avoid odd numbers. For more advanced challenge, they can try the Pool Geometry Series. This is just like the classic pool game, but with a little added dimension. When kids line up a shot, they get to see the shape of where the ball will go and the direction that the cue ball will bounce off. This is a great way to learn basic geometry! Cool Math-Games is part of the larger Coolmath network featuring other similar sub-sites such as Coolmath4Kids and Finance-Freak.
Classroom-like Math Drills and Flashcards
The educational software company Sheppard Software designs a great number of games and makes them available for free on their site. All the games cover math fundamentals such as basic and mixed operations, fractions, pre-algebra, dollars and cents, and place value. The games are simple and work like interactive flashcards. The timer component is nice for kids who like to beat the clock.
Another site not exactly tops on the fun factor, but offering some really unique features, is Thatquiz.org. The site allows students to “design” math tests with variables such as the ability to choose levels of difficulty, control over how many practice problems they want to complete or the option to use a timer for an additional challenge.
Thatquiz.org has been providing students interactive tests in various math levels, designed by software engineer Andrew Lyzak, since 2004. The tutorials range from adding and subtracting single-digit numbers to telling time on an analog or digital clock. More advanced math students can take advantage of tutorials in geometry, probability and algebra. As students take each test, the number of correct and incorrect answers are tracked.
Word and Story Problems to Solve
Hosted by Scholastic.com, Math Maven’s Mysteries is an excellent destination that encourages young minds to solve simple mysteries using a variety of math principles. Students can start with easy mysteries such as Cafeteria Caper and Golden Bat Bandit, which emphasize logical reasoning. They can then slowly graduate to more difficult mysteries such as Daryl the Dirty Dealer to practice money and decimal skills or Time for a Crime to learn time and measurement. Each game creates a scenario with enough hints to help kids solve the mystery.
Created by a teacher, Mr.Nussbaum.com offers math word problems that allow kids to mix various classroom skills in solving math problem. All the problems are organized by level for grades 1-5, and the range of problems cover everything from graphing and charts to mental math, identifying fractions and estimating angles.
How should parents approach these sites? While each builds and reinforces skills learned in the classroom, some are also a great substitute for regular math drills. The practice, repetition and critical thinking skills offered by them are irreplaceable and make math more approachable in the early years when student interest in math begins to wane. Most of the sites do feature online ads and are often part of larger portals that offer games in other elementary and middle school subjects.