There are plenty of benefits of using educational apps designed for kids — they can let kids access expert tips and tools, one-on-one teaching opportunities and more. Because love it or hate it, technology is everywhere. And for parents, of course, this can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, today’s kids have access to more information and learning tools than ever before. On the other, it’s becoming more challenging to keep children (and many adults) away from their devices.
But let’s be honest: Educational benefits aside, kid-plus-app time also provides parents with a much-needed breather at the end of a long day or some (productive!) quiet time while traveling. But with thousands of apps geared toward kids on the market, it can be hard to determine which ones strike that perfect balance between entertaining and educational.
We’ve sorted through tons of kid-friendly apps and found 10 of the best. While not all of them were new in 2018, these apps have consistently ranked high with parents and Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making technology safer and more approachable for kids. Read on for our picks below.
Toca Kitchen 2
Finally, there’s a way for kids to experiment with food without messing up your entire kitchen. With Toca Kitchen 2, kids are encouraged to play with their (virtual) food and test out new and exciting recipes. Plus, the app inspires little chefs to get in touch with their wackier, more creative sides to create wild dishes for a panel of hungry taste testers. Ever wonder what it’d be like to make a juiced potato milkshake? How about a boiled salad with a hot dog dressing? The world is your kitchen!
Toca Kitchen 2, $3.99 at iTunes
Learning is always more fun when cute animals are involved, and Peek-a-Zoo from Duck Duck Moose has plenty of them. This app, designed for ages 2 to 5, teaches kids the basics of the animal kingdom (distinguishing among different species and sounds) through fun games and adorable graphics.
Peek-a-Zoo, free at iTunes
Teach Your Monster to Read
There’s nothing scary about reading — not even these book-hungry monsters! Teach Your Monster to Read is an innovative app geared toward beginning readers that teaches kids the basics, including how to match letters to sounds and new vocabulary words. With the help of fun games and activities, kids will begin to piece together sentences until they can comfortably read short books.
Teach Your Monster to Read, $4.99 at iTunes
Loopimal is a new app from Yatatoy that teaches kids about the wonders of music-making. With the help of some ridiculously charming animal friends (yetis, bears and sloths — oh, my!), kids can explore different sounds and string together fun musical compositions. The best part — aside from the dancing animals — is that users can create without consequences. There is no right or wrong way to play. Just arrange the music-making tiles under the animals and get to groovin’.
Loopimal, $3.99 at iTunes
Wonster Words Learning
Learning letters, sounds and spelling has never been cuter than with Wonster Words Learning. Kids will explore a silly monster world as they learn the meaning and spelling of new words through puzzles, animated stories, a free vocabulary word of the day and other mini-games. The app is free for a seven-day trial period and then the price jumps to $7.99 per month. Or if you love the progress your little monster makes, you can pay a flat fee of $54.99 for lifetime access.
Wonster Words Learning, free to try at iTunes
You can never have too many reading apps — Endless Alphabet is proof! This delightful app is geared toward children 4 and older who are eager to learn everything from their ABC’s to the definitions of new words, like “gargantuan” and “invisible.” Don’t worry; there are no boring ruled-paper worksheets to be found in this app. Kids will learn by playing interactive puzzle games and through quick animated clips.
Endless Alphabet, $8.99 at iTunes
Seedling Comic Studio
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… your superkid! Seedling Comic Studio is an app that transforms everyday life into an action-packed adventure. Users can insert themselves into colorful comic strips and craft their own superhero stories using fun backgrounds, text panels, captions, costumes, prop stickers and more. Saving the day has never been so fun (or easy)!
Though the app is free, users can make $0.99 in-app purchases to change themes.
Seedling Comic Studio, free at iTunes
Numbers are fun with Todo Math, an app designed for kids ages 3 to 8. Kids of all levels will sharpen their math skills as they learn counting, equations, patterns, time, money and more through engaging interactive games. Once they get the hang of a new concept, users can take quizzes that help gauge and track their progress. What are you waiting for? Let’s get counting!
Though free, Todo Math offers one- and two-year subscription plans to keep the math party going.
Todo Math, free at iTunes
Teach your meteorologist-in-training about nine major weather types (from sunny skies to hurricanes) with the help of this easy-to-use interactive weather app. Users can experiment with the weather by putting together their own climate combinations, playing mini-games (snowball fight, anyone?) and hearing a kid-friendly explanation of atmospheric changes. Before you know it, your child will be just as savvy as the weatherman (green screen, unfortunately, not included).
MarcoPolo Weather, free at iTunes