20 Apps Your Kids Will Love (and you will appreciate)

I’ve done this a hundred times – gone on to the App Store, get so confused with the overwhelming selection of apps for kids, get frustrated and walk away with NOTHING; to the dismay of my eagerly awaiting kids.

By Damelza Harris-Olsen with Common Sense Media

Which ones are rubbish? Which ones are both entertaining AND educational? Decisions, decisions. Here are 20 apps for children between the ages of two to five years old.

 

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Busy Shapes App Poster Image
Busy Shapes
Busy Shapes mimics a real-world environment but also gives kids a safe, appropriately stimulating way to explore this digital world. A refreshing and smart use of technology, supported by research. age 2+

 

My Very Hungry Caterpillar App Poster Image
My Very Hungry Caterpillar
Kids tap an egg until it hatches into a caterpillar. Each day they feed it, play with it, and make sure it gets plenty of rest until it becomes a butterfly. Has feel-good written all over it, from the tinkling musical notes to the bright colors. age 2+

 

Peek-a-Zoo by Duck Duck Moose App Poster Image
Peek-a-Zoo by Duck Duck Moose
Peek-a-Zoo is a great first app for toddlers and preschoolers. Its cute, colourful animal characters are appealing, and its controls are easy to master. Better yet, it can help very young kids identify emotions by studying the animals’ facial expressions. age 2+

 

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Sago Mini Babies App Poster Image
Sago Mini Babies
Goes back in time to when the virtual animals in the Sago Mini clan were super cute, highly responsive babies. Kids care for them by feeding them, entertaining them, playing with them, and so on. Graphics simplistic but appealing; play easy and open-ended. age 2+

 

Avokiddo ABC Ride App Poster Image
Avokiddo ABC Ride
Beck and Bo ride a bike along a path and explore each scene, following alliterative instructions to reveal the hidden letter. The gentle voice narration gives lots of encouragement, and the graphics are impressive — everything seems to be made from cardboard. age 3+

 

Care for Our World App Poster Image
Care for Our World
In addition to a wonderful story about protecting the environment, this ebook app lets kids create habitats and populate them. There’s also an animal encyclopedia, so kids can learn more if they wish. age 3+

 

The Cat in the Hat - Read & Learn - Dr. Seuss App Poster Image
The Cat in the Hat – Read & Learn – Dr. Seuss
With a good range of learning activities and lots of ways to explore, this version of the book is a stellar way to bring it to life. Through several interactive options, kids encounter the story in a way that encourages reading. age 3+

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel App Poster Image
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a fun starting point for teaching kids about common topics like bedtime and bathroom routines and going to the doctor. It’s best as a shared experience, so you can help your kids relate the activities to everyday life. age 3+

 

Lazoo Art Box App Poster Image
Lazoo Art Box
Kids use chalk, a marker, a paintbrush, a rolling stamp, and stickers to draw and create. Then they press play and watch their drawings come to life in short animations. An eraser would be nice, but kids will love the simplicity, variety, and colour. age 3+

 

LumiKids Park by Lumosity, Early Learning Play for Kids App Poster Image
LumiKids Park by Lumosity, Early Learning Play for Kids
Kids explore LumiPark, where they can tap on anything to watch something fun happen (make a girl swing, watch a dog do a trick). Three mini-games focus on three cognitive skills. The graphics and premise are fun and super inviting for little kids. age 3+

 

LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary App Poster Image
LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary
Kids can learn about the joys of reading in an encouraging and nurturing environment. The app offers a wide selection of books (you’ll need a subscription) as well as videos that will appeal to a wide audience. age 4+

 

Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen App Poster Image
Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen
With or without the Tiggly toys, this app lets kids build words and explore phonics. As kids play, the level of difficulty ramps up, which gives the app a longer shelf life. age 4+

 

Settle Your Glitter App Poster Image
Settle Your Glitter
An animated orb of glitter moves around a virtual snow globe as kids name their feelings, determine how strong those feelings are, and focus on their breathing in this simple yet beautiful emotional-regulation tool. age 4+

 

Tales Untold App Poster Image
Tales Untold
Instead of handing over a device on a long car trip, you can subscribe to these cute audio stories and listen as a family. Similar to podcasts for adults, these stories come in episodes so you can binge-listen or savour – together. age 4+

Toca Nature App Poster Image
Toca Nature
In this totally open-ended environment, kids build trees, lakes, and mountains and observe what happens as animals move in and food sources abound. Interaction is slow and calm, and the graphics and spellbinding music are compelling, even hypnotic. age 4+

 

Bugs and Buttons 2 App Poster Image
Bugs and Buttons 2
Nearly any of the Bugs and Buttons 2 mini-games could stand alone as an independent activity, but in this app, you get 18 fun and educational games that are well worth the price. It’s an engaging and well-rounded preschool-age learning tool. age 5+

 

Crazy Gears App Poster Image
Crazy Gears
A problem-solving game with no instructions that get kids thinking critically, problem-solving, and exploring physics and other STEM topics. Kids will be hooked by 61 levels and get a good sense of what gears, weights, pulleys, and other simple machines do. age 5+

 

DragonBox Algebra 5+ App Poster Image
DragonBox Algebra 5+
As far as kids are concerned, DragonBox is just a new type of puzzle game. But as the game progresses, kids actually learn to solve simple algebraic equations. It’s so easy even kids as young as 5 can learn algebra basics in a matter of hours. age 5+

 

The Foos: Code for an Hour FREE girls and boys educational app App Poster Image
The Foos: Code for an Hour FREE girls and boys educational app
Fun little monsters encounter police officers, construction sites, and obstacles such as boxes and tires. Kids drag and drop commands or visual blocks of code to guide him to his destination. A fun way to expose kids to the logic of programming. age 5+

 

Gro Garden App Poster Image
Gro Garden
A great, easy way to get kids excited about and engaged in gardening and sustainable living. They visit the garden plot, the house, and the compost bin and plant seeds, shine the sun’s rays, and drag rain clouds around to nurture crop growth. age 5+

 


Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organisation dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology.

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