Understanding Math – Addition and Subtraction by appp media

2 Apr

understandingmath+-Understanding Math – Addition and Subtraction  is the latest Mathematics app from appp media and is the second in their Understanding Math series, based on  Jerome Bruner’s  Three Modes of Representation learning theory.  This app explores the concepts of addition and subtraction using different symbolic, visual and active representations.  As well as answering set problems, the app gives children tools to help solve their own addition and subtraction problems.

Each activity has been linked to the Common Core Standards for Mathematics.


Addition – Tap with your fingers

addition tap with your fingers

Addition Tap with your Fingers

Solve the problem by touching the display.  For an equation such as 4 + 3, you would first tap 4 fingers on the screen to add four items to the screen, then with three to add three differently coloured items.  You could also tap three fingers then four to get the same correct result.  Play briefly the items, tapping them to hear sounds and trigger brief animations,  as a reward before they disappear.   More items are unlocked as the child progresses through the activities in the app.

An important tip is to turn off the Multitasking Gestures on your device before playing with this activity.  If you don’t, the slightest pinch can send you to the home screen.  To turn off Multitasking Gestures, go to Settings>General> then scroll down to Multitasking Gestures and toggle it to off.


Children drag tens and ones from two different coloured sets to solve addition problems.  29 + 19 would be solved by dragging down two green tens and nine green ones, then one pink ten and nine pink ones.  Regrouping takes place automatically, and I love that the regrouped tens are made of both colours, as it helps children to visualise the concept of regrouping.


Solve the equation by dragging down the correct amount of tens and ones.  I love how the tens will automatically split into ones as regrouping occurs, and how children can see the amount that has been taken away.  The tens and ones will automatically change to pink as they are dragged away.

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An equation appears at the top of the screen with a visual representation at the base of the screen. Solve the equation by writing the answer in the centre of the screen. This is a drill and practice activity and uses hand writing recognition.   There is a bit of give and take when it comes to accuracy, but very “wobbly” numbers will be rejected, so it does encourage children to write numerals neatly.


This is a version of the Training game where two players compete against each other.   Choose a difficulty level, tap the sun when you are ready to start, then try to solve your equation before your opponent.  The first to enter the correct answer earns a star, and the game finishes when one player has earned 5 stars. As with the Training activity, Duel children write their answers on the screen.  As in Understanding – Maths Times Tables, each player can select their own level of difficulty.  This means that you can have your 6 year old take on your 10 year old in an equal competition, and it also means that students with special needs can compete with their peers in a regular classroom on a more equal footing.


This is my favourite part of the app as it is an open-ended tool that can be used to help with homework or in class.  It is very similar to the Addition and Subtraction activities, except you get to enter your own equations to 100 and work from there.  Initially you’ll see a rather blank screen with 0 + 0 = [pencil symbol]  Tap on the pencil symbol to enter your addition or subtraciton equation.  Tap the equals symbol to solve the problem using the tens and ones, as you would in the Addition and Subtraction activities.

Supportive Features

  • There are two difficulty levels for all of the activities except for Addition Tap the Screen.  The first level allows for equations to 20, and the second level to 100.  Addition Tap the Screen only has equations to 20.
  • Separate profiles can be created for each user.
  • Results are tracked for each user
  • Progress through the app is rewarded with the unlocking of new items that will appear in the addition – tap with your fingers activity.  The elephant that lifts it trunk and trumpets is a favourite in our house.
  • Although aimed at lower primary, this app will be suitable for older children who are struggling with addition and subtraction concepts, as the images used are not “babyish” in any way.
  • There is no penalty for incorrect answers. You just move on and try again.
  • You can download a free Teacher’s Manual from the appp media website.


Understanding Maths – Addition and Subtraction is an ideal app for both home and school.  It will be particularly valuable in the lower grades of school and for those children who are moving from concrete to symbolic representations of addition and subtraction. Older children struggling with these concepts will also enjoy using this app as it has an age-appropriate interface. The activities will fit in well with the early Mathematics curriculum, and the open ended tools will allow teachers and parents to use the app in a wide range of activities.

Understanding Math - addition and subtraction - appp media
Publisher: appp media
Price:  $2.49 AUS (Reg. $5.99)
iPad and iPhone (requires iOS 4.3 or higher)

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