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5 ideas for teaching numbers 1 – 10 using apps and mobile devices


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Here are five ideas for teaching numbers 1-10 using apps and mobile devices. The ideas are aimed at the efl/esl young learner classroom – in this case mostly the very young learner classroom – but the ideas could be adapted for other contexts.

1. Number flashcards
Flashcards can be a useful way to teach numbers, and some apps let you – or your learners – make your own. An example of this is Kids Learning – My First Numbers Counting Game. The free app (and free of adverts too) has simple flashcards of apples, balls, bears, fingers and numbers, which you can customise (font size, colour, capitalisation). The best thing about the app is that children (or teachers) can make their own flashcards using photos and their own voice recordings – it would be great to get young learners to make their own set of number flashcards. These personalised cards could then be used for different activities, with or without audio or text. You choose!

App: Kids Learning – My First Numbers Counting Game
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free

2. Learn to count from 1 – 10
As well as flashcards, there are several game-based apps that can help young children learn the numbers 1-10 in English. Here are three examples, all paid-for and aimed at pre-schoolers. They could work well with slightly older children who are learning numbers as a foreign or additional language. All of these apps could be used with an IWB and the whole class – the teacher getting the children to shout out the numbers in English as they play the games.

App: 1 – 10 Balloons
Platform: iOS (iPad only)
Cost: £0.69/$0.99

In this simple game learners pop the balloons in order from one to ten. It helps children order numbers, and as each balloon is a different colour, it could be used to practise colours too (“What balloon shall I pop next? What colour is it?”)

App: Number Snap! /Kids Number Snap
Platform: iOS /Android
Cost: £0.69/$0.99/£0.72

This is another simple app based on the game ‘Snap’. In this game, children have to decide if the two cards they see match – for example, the number 4 and four butterflies. If they do, they hit the ‘Snap’ button. There is also a scoring functionality which some children will find motivating.

App: Learn to count with Wombi
Platform: iOS /Android
Cost: £1.99/$2.99/£1.39

This app is based around a colourful underwater scene – children say how many fish they can see in the sea, and can add or remove fish to the scene, a neat introduction to simple addition and subtraction. What’s more, children can practise numbers 1- 10 in the following languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Portuguese and Italian.

3. Number songs
There are many children’s songs and rhymes that help children learn to count, and there are some available on apps that would be suitable for very young learners. The animation helps children to understand the context of the song (even if they don’t understand every word), and children can learn the song, to sing at any time. Five Little Speckled Frogshas extra features which make it particularly useful in the young learner classroom: the bugmaker, and a recording facility so that your own voice can be added to the song. Use the bugmaker with the whole class – get them to suggest objects, colours and body parts using as much English as they can. Note that this is not the most intuitive app to use so it would be a good idea to practise yourself first.

App: Five Little Speckled Frogs
Platform: iOS
Cost: £0.69/$0.99

Other songs

App: Five Little Monkeys
Platform: iOS/Android
Cost: £0.69/$0.99/£0.62

App: Five Sharks Swimming
Platform: iOS
Cost: £1.99

4. Learn to spell numbers 1-10
App: Word Carrot
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free

Word Carrot helps young learners of any age practise the numbers 1-10, in particular how to spell them. Learners see the number, hear the word, and then touch the right letters to spell it. Basic words are free, and there is no advertising. Teachers could use the app with an ipad connected to an IWB, or recommend it to parents for outside-school practice. Here is a worksheet that you can download to use in or outside the classroom to practise numbers.
Numbers 1-10 Worksheet

5. Simple maths apps
Another way to practise numbers is through maths. There are many maths apps on the market, most of them using higher numbers than 1 to 10. Here are two which feature lower numbers, and introduce learners to basic maths and number concepts.

App: Park Math
Platform: iOS
Cost: £1.49/$1.99

Children join animals in the park and can try seven activities to practise counting and also concepts such as addition, subtraction, patterns and so on.

App: Love to Count by Pirate Trio
Platform: iOS
Cost: £2.49/$3.99

This app is a little more expensive but has a lot of activities, and introduces concepts such as the relationship between numbers and ordinals, and simple fractions. There are lots of different activities – all within the context of the pirate ship – and children are rewarded as they complete activities.

Kim Ashmore, Director & Co-Founder, LearnAhead Ltd

That’s five ideas. Share any others that you have here. We’d love to hear about them.

1 Comment

  1. Since posting this, I have downloaded a fun free app (for iOS only) called Pearl Diver. In this app you have to dive to the bottom of the sea to collect pearls – avoiding electric eels. The clever trick is you have to dive at the exact spot along a number line – and this gets progressively harder to include fractions and so forth. It is free – no ads – and well worth it.

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