I’ve created a chore chart for my children, Daniel and Annabel, and they love to see their daily stars accumulate so they can earn a reward. We give them a quarter if they fill their chart by the end of the week and, over the past few months, they have been saving their quarters to buy new apps for their iPads. My husband and I monitor their choices and we’ve both discovered that the “world of kids apps” can be pretty overwhelming. There are so many apps out there! Most of the time we try our best to help them decide and it’s often “hit” or “miss.”
Annabel will start to play with a new app and then we both realize it’s a bit out of her age range. Daniel will start a new game and, five minutes later, he’ll declare that his new choice is just “too BORING.” After lots of trial and error, my two little testers have created a list of their favorite apps. Their choices are both fun and educational and many are FREE!
App Tester Annabel is 5-years-old and loves music, art, and dance. Her favorite thing to do is take videos with my iPhone and draw pictures of her beloved stuffed dog, Pinky. She is an amateur singer/songwriter and a master hugger.
These are her favorite apps:
Lazoo Magic Stickers! by PlayDate Digital
I LOVE all the Lazoo apps. They are smart with a magical feel. Annabel adores stickers and this app lets her add colorful stickers to eight different scenes and then watch them come alive. It’s a fun way for kids to express their creativity. They can even draw and design their own stickers, Annabel’s favorite part! $1.99 (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad)
ColorBand by Ting-Wei Liu
ColorBand is a new app that allows kids to play sounds on their iPads by “strumming” in the air or directly on the screen. There are 80 different interactive colors that correspond with a unique sound or instrument. After they finish a drawing, your kids can play their music. Annabel loves the rainbow colors and the mascot bunny, Lalabee, who dances along to her song. This one is a great introduction to music and art. Free (iPad only)
Reading Raven HD by Early Ascent
I love when I can find an awesome educational app that is also really enjoyable for Annabel. This is it. It’s a little pricier, but well worth it. This learn-to-read app provides fun lessons at a nice pace. There are different games and activities for each reading level and kids get to interact with butterflies, acrobats, sea creatures, robots, rockets, and more. They receive cute sticker rewards and they can pause and save their progress at any time. $3.99 (iPad only)
Alien Assignment by Fred Rogers Center
This app is so cool that it’s hard to get my iPhone back after Annabel presses “Start.” It’s a scavenger hunt game so be sure you’re at home, a friend’s house, or some place where your little one can run around and have their own adventure. A parent has to review their work at the end, so it’s great family bonding. This app was created by the Fred Rogers Center and a Kindergarten teacher. It will teach your little one problem solving skills as they learn to follow directions and snap photos. Free (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad *with camera)
Petting Zoo by Christoph Niemann
This charming app is an interactive picture book that allows kids to tap 21 different animals to see how they react. The animations are amazing and the musical touches are adorable. Parents will get addicted too. Annabel’s favorite is the giraffe and his silly, long tongue. $1.99 (iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad)
Pizza Factory for Kids by Alexandre Minard
I can almost smell the pepperoni and cheese when I watch Annabel create her very own pizza with this cool restaurant app. Your kids will make their own pizza dough, put on toppings, bake it, and eat it – all in a fun game format. Annabel loves to chop the veggies. Your kids can also prepare special custom orders for cute animals, robots, and monsters. There are two modes: A do-your-own-thing “free” mode and a “mission” mode for your more competitive little ones. $1.99 (iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad)
Cookie Doodle by Shoe the Goose
This is a great way for your kids to make cookies without the mess or clean-up! They will roll out dough, grab a cookie cutter, bake, and then add frosting, sprinkles, or candies. The new updated version includes more creative baking choices and kids learn sequencing, reading, and fine motor skills. Your kids can also turn their personal photos into cookie art! Annabel loves to make holiday cookies with LOTS of sprinkles.
$0.99 (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad)
Toca Hair Salon by Toca Boca AB
I always hear Annabel giggle when she changes her client’s hair color to pink or adds a beard or sparkly accessory. With this app, your kids can cut, color, comb, and blow-dry hair on six different characters including a dog and a lion. The fun part is when the characters make silly faces and sounds as they are being styled. $2.99 (iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad)
Bubble Guppies: Animal School Day HD by Nickelodeon
I downloaded this app for Annabel so long ago and she still plays it all the time. It features all the characters from the popular Nick Jr. television series. The Bubble Guppies teach kids all about different animals including the food they eat, where they live, and what they have in common. Kids must complete an “Animal School Day” to earn stickers and toys to decorate Bubble Puppy’s Doghouse. $4.99 (iPad only)
App Tester Daniel is 7-years-old and loves maps and anything with wheels. He loves to draw cities and roads and is already designing his future beach house. You will often find him swimming, building with his LEGOs, and playing chess with Daddy.
These are his favorite apps:
Megapolis by Social Quantum
This is my son’s obsession. He loves cities and tall buildings, so he is right at home with this #1 “citybuilder” game app. Your kids create and design their very own city using all types of buildings and construction materials. They can also add airports, railways stations, seaports, and more. There are really awesome 3D graphics which Daniel loves. Note: It has a social networking application which allows players to visit each other’s cities, so be sure to monitor this one. Free (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad)
Cargo-Bot by Two Lives Left
This one is great for your future “coder.” Your kids must move crates with a robot by using basic computer programming skills. They use critical thinking to not only figure out the solution, but the best, and shortest, solution. Daniel has a hard time putting this one down. Free (iPad only)
Marble Math by Artgig Studio
This app allows kids to solve a variety of math problems as they move their marble through a series of challenging mazes. This one is best for older elementary students or little math whizzes (like my son.) It’s a great way for kids to mentally solve problems while playing a fun game. I feel like I have a math tutor on my iPhone. There are many options to customize the math problems just for your child’s skill level. $2.99 (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad)
Sushi Monster by Scholastic
This is another challenging math game by Scholastic where kids practice and reinforce their math skills by playing with some cute monsters and plates of yummy sushi. It strengthens your child’s addition skills and then moves on to multiplication. Kids earn points, stars, and trophies to unlock new levels. Free (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad)
Stack the States by Dan Russell-Pinson
This is Daniel’s new favorite. He loves maps and this is a fun and interactive app about all 50 states. The states have little eyeballs and they come to life in five different colorful and entertaining games. The best part is your kids will be learning all about state capitals, state shapes, geographic locations, flags, abbreviations, and more. They also earn a state after completing each level. You’ll find yourself playing this one, too. $0.99 (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad)
Learn the States with Flat Stanley HD by Flatter World, Inc.
Daniel just couldn’t pick one geography game, so I’ve also included this one featuring the iconic Flat Stanley. It’s another neat way to learn about geography as your kids “slingshot” Stanley to the correct state. They’ll play games to learn the correct state spellings and discover our nation’s landmarks. It really encourages kids to explore and travel. $0.99 (iPad only)
Flow Free: Bridges by Big Duck Games LLC
In this addictive app, your kids have to connect matching pipe colors to create a “flow.” They have to pair all the colors to cover the entire board and, with this version, they can use bridges to solve each puzzle. Daniel says it’s an advanced version of “Connect the Dots.” There are tons of levels and lots of cool sounds and graphics. I can’t believe how fast Daniel solves some of the beginner levels. $0.99 (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad)
Block Path by Tehnio
Daniel loves problem solving puzzles and I’m always searching for recommended free ones. This one starts with a blue square and then kids have to draw a continuous loop that covers the entire grid. Watch out for the orange square obstacles! It’s definitely challenging and there are 35 free levels so this one will last you awhile. Free (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad)
If you are constantly searching for fun and educational apps, be sure to sign up for my weekly informational newsletter for parents called Pop Kids Report. The free newsletter features new movie, DVD, and music releases, Disney and Nickelodeon TV premieres, special events, and my popular “Cool App of the Week.” Sign up now by clicking here and I’ll keep you informed of all the new apps for kids!