Mobile Fun for Kids
Google's Play Store features a well-stocked Family section loaded with kid-friendly games, apps and educational tools that parents and children can enjoy together. With that in mind, we've taken a look at of some of the best Android apps for kids, featuring everything from parental controls to interactive storybooks and electronic playsets that you and your children can enjoy worry-free. (Image Credit: Subbotina Anna/Shutterstock)
Amazon FreeTime ($2.99 per month for Prime members; Ages: 3 and older)
Amazon FreeTime Unlimited provides a fun-filled child-friendly space filled with books, movies, TV shows and videos from a variety of kid friendly and educational brands, such as Disney, PBS, and Nickelodeon. A parental controls system makes it easy to set limits, configure educational goals (and choose appropriate media), restrict categories, and find conversation starters and discussion questions to help connect with what your kids are watching and reading. The app also includes a safe web browsing mode that lets kids access a carefully curated collection of sites and videos. Users can try out the service for free for a month, and subscriptions cost $2.99 per month for Prime members, and $4.99 per month for everyone else.
Epic ($7.99/month; Ages 6 to 12)
With access to more than 35,000 children’s books, audiobooks, educational videos and quizzes, think of Epic as a sort of Neflix of education subscription services. Epic allows kids to explore a vast library of child-safe content, with material designed for kindergarten up to 7th grade reading levels. Personalized reading recommendations help your kids find new material to devour. An Epic for Educators version aimed at librarians and educators is available for free.
PBS Kids Video (Free; Ages: 8 and under)
With the PBS Kids Video app, your kids can catch their favorite PBS Kids characters and shows on your mobile devices, or streamed to the big screen with a Chromecast. Kids can catch Thomas & Friends, watch the Muppets of Sesame Street, the Odd Squad, Curious George and other beloved characters. Kids and parents can stream full episodes, as well as check out the schedule of their local PBS station schedule. Parental resources include guides for intended age for videos, learning goals for each video, and links to other PBS Kids apps and educational games.
BrainPop (Free; Ages: 9 to 12)
BrainPop offers up fun and educational videos, with a rotating set of Featured Movies related to various educational subjects ranging from science and math to art, history, and social studies. The free app comes with a daily featured movie (including closed captions) and a related quiz, allowing curious kids to learn something new every day. BrainPop subscriptions (check if your school has one!) provide even more movies and quizzes daily.
Khan Academy Kids (Free; Ages 5 and under)
The non-profit educational site Khan Academy provides a wealth of free educational videos and online lessons, and its Khan Academy Kids app continues in that same vein. Kid-oriented videos and courses help your student work on language skills, math, logic, and emotional development, and it’s all presented in a child-safe environment and format.
Endless Alphabet (Free; Ages: 8 and under)
Endless Alphabet is part of Originator Inc's "Endless" line of edutainment apps, and it introduces kids to letters and words, presenting toddlers and children with a series of minigames. Children put words back together in easy and engaging spelling puzzles featuring talking words, and afterward, they're rewarded with short animations that explain each word's meaning. The free version lets you try the app out with seven free words and animations, and an in-app purchase unlocks the full game with more than 100 word puzzles and animations. Originator's Endless line has since expanded to include Endless Numbers, Endless Wordplay, and a Spanish language app.
Moose Math (Free; Ages: 8 and under)
Your child can learn to count — and even get a rudimentary introduction to addition — with the colorful Moose Math app, which stars a moose that runs a juice bar. Your kid can play around with a variety of mini-games that sport a mathematical bent, such as Moose Juice, which has them following numerical recipes for smoothies. (Add a specified number of each piece of fruit to a blender to complete the task at hand.) App maker Duck Duck Moose produces a number of interactive apps aimed at the preschool-to-elementary crowd, and this counting app can really help your preschoolers and kindergartners get comfortable with numbers and following instructions.
Artie's World (Free; Ages: 3 and up)
Minilab returns with a delightful sequel to Artie's Magic Pencil with Artie's World, an educational drawing game aimed at kids ages 3 to 6. Join Artie and his magical pencil as he explores the world, bringing ideas to life, sharing toys and gifts in simple learn-to-draw style exercises. Kids will learn to draw with simple shapes guided by dots, with each object and animal named with friendly voice-overs. The app lets you and your kid explore Artie's village and eight free toys and gifts, with more unlocked through in-app purchases. The app features seasonal updates, as well as no third-party advertising or social media links to keep the experience safe and self-contained.
Dr. Seuss Collection ($14.99; Ages: 2 to 6)
The works of Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, are classics of children's literature, featuring fantastical illustrations of imaginative characters and easy-to-follow language. The Dr. Seuss Book Collection #1 app brings together five of Oceanhouse Media's digital adaptations of Dr. Seuss's most beloved works, such as The Cat in The Hat, The FOOT Book and Fox in Socks, into one convenient app. In addition to the original text and illustrations, the app features digital extras, such as the ability to record your own voice narration and vocabulary learning tools.
Dragonbox Algebra ($4.99; Ages: 5 and up)
DragonBox Algebra 5+ is a genuinely clever educational math game that skillfully hides the fact that it's teaching your kids algebra. Targeted at kids ages 5 and up, DragonBox Algebra starts out with simple logic puzzles that have kids matching symbols together in order to clear one side of the screen. Each new puzzle adds new quirks and game rules that cleverly mirror the basic rules of elementary algebra, until in no time at all, your kids are unknowingly balancing the sides of an algebraic equation to isolate a treasure box symbol, gradually replaced with 'X'. The game features 10 chapters with 200 puzzles in total, and covers addition, division and multiplication.
Prodigy (Free; Ages 6 to 12)
Another app that gamifies math, Prodigy uses an MMORPG-like framework, presenting you with challenges that require you to flex your math skills. Even better, the game will customize its selection of challenges based on a player’s strengths and weaknesses. Prodigy’s math questions are aligned with state level and common core curricula, and while its core features are free, a premium subscription tier allows for faster level-ups and access to members-only areas of the app.
Lego City (Free; Ages 6 to 12)
Lego's building blocks have been some of the favorite toys of kids and parents for decades, and Lego continues the tradition of family-friendly fun with its mobile apps, which are designed to be free-to-play without any in-app purchases at all. Lego City has kids building up the city and assembling Lego vehicles like helicopters and firetrucks that they can then use to put out fires, rescue citizens, and capture criminals. As you progress through the game, you can unlock alternate vehicle parts that you can use to modify vehicles or craft a new one of your own creation. The latest upgrade adds an arctic environment for kids to explore, as well as new vehicles and kits to play with.
Lego Life (Free; Ages 8 to 12)
Lego Life aims to be a companion app to the Lego experience, providing a safe social media environment for kids and parents to explore the world of Lego, with mini movies and webisodes from Lego series, as well as videos and photos of a variety of Lego creations. Kids can scan QR codes from the instruction manuals of their kits to get digital versions of the instructions that they can rotate and zoom for a better view. With a Lego account, you can also share your creations, comment on other people's posts, create a customized avatar, and join groups. To keep things child-friendly, all comments are moderated, direct chatting is not allowed, and photos with personally identifiable information are automatically rejected.
Lego Nexo Knights Merlock 2.0 (Free; Ages 5 to 11)
For something a bit more action-packed, there's Lego Nexo Knights, a tie-in with Lego's line of science-fantasy playsets. Join the wizard Merlok and the Nexo Knights as they band together against the evil Monstrox and his army of stone monsters. Kids can control the different Nexo Knights, unlocking new weapons and armor and scanning unique Nexo Powers from the toy kits for use to defend Knighton against its attackers. The latest version of the game introduces more battle modes and Combo Powers that you get by combining scanned Nexo Powers from the various Lego kits. The app is free to play, without any in-app purchases.
Roblox (Free; Ages 7 and up)
For a more digital take on the building blocks experience, check out Roblox, which provides users with a rich selection of user-generated worlds and games to play in and experience. Kids can customize their avatars, race cars against each other, take on bad guys as costumed superheroes, or just chill out with friends in virtual theme parks or dream mansions. Chat filters and other social tools aim to make things kid-friendly, though do note that the app has the option for in-app purchases (for Robux premium currency, which is used to buy in-game accessories and upgrades) and a subscription mode for extra Robux.
Toca Life: World (Free; Ages 6 to 8)
Developer Toca Boca made a name for itself with imaginative, child-friendly apps that explore your kids' sense of free play and creativity. Toca Life: World is the latest in the Toca Life series of freeform animated playset-style apps, allowing kids and parents to explore numerous environments filled with a variety of interactive characters, objects and creatures. As with many Toca apps, the idea is to encourage free play, as you look for things to interact with. Toca Life: World allows you to bring in characters, creatures, and elements from the Toca Life series into a single app and scene, allowing for a wild array of combinations of playscenes and characters. The app provides a number of characters and locations for free, with more available as in-app purchases.
Toca Hair Salon 3 ($3.99; Ages 6 to 8)
Another popular pick is Toca Hair Salon 3, a virtual playset that lets you playfully style and customize the hairstyles of your hair salon's customers. Kids can play around with all sorts of hair types and styles, with realistic virtual hair that moves like the real thing, which you can cut, color and curl with a variety of styling tools and combs. Not content with braids and beards? You can also experiment and dress up each character with a variety of clothes and accessories. It's a no-stress free play activity that's all about style and not about high scores.
Toca Nature ($0.49; Ages, 3+)
Toca Nature is also part of Toca Boca's free-play apps for kids, allowing little ones to shape and interact with a virtual world. From a bird's-eye view, kids can plant trees and forests, raise mountains and create pools and rivers. Then kids can explore the virtual worlds they've created while making sure that the animals don't go hungry. As with Toca Boca's other apps for kids, there are no high scores and no in-app purchases.
Hoopa City 2 ($3.99; Ages: 6+)
Dr. Panda's Hoopa City 2 app has players teaming up with Hoopa the Hippo to build their own urban playground. Kids can combine a variety of elements to build houses, roads, train tracks, museums, shops, and more, and a helpful combination guide recalls the building recipes you've already unlocked. As your town grows, more cuddly animal people move in, and you can zoom in and play with them, placing them inside buildings so that they can study in school, eat in restaurants, or play in your parks and plazas. Hoopa City is all about free play, with no score boards or points, just an open world for kids to build the city of their dreams.
Minecraft ($6.99; Ages: 10+)
Minecraft, in many ways, plays like the 21st century's equivalent to children's building toys, which is why it makes such a great game for older children with a creative streak. Minecraft's "Creative" mode ditches the game's survival mechanics such as food and wandering monsters, and instead allows kids to wander around and shape the world as much as they want, laying down bricks, building structures, houses and exploring a miniature sandbox world. Parents can even join in for a bit of guided play with local Wi-Fi multiplayer, for some neat collaborative building.
I like the list of the apps you suggested for kids.Reply
Thank you! My kid enjoys all the Lego Apps.. I'm always looking for new Apps though, can you please suggest me more?Reply
I agree with you and i also like the apps you mentioned.Reply
Thanks for this! I am a beginner level software engineer with an 8 month old son, so this is great research material for me! I hope you all check out my first game. It's called Ani Whack, and is free on Google Play Store.Reply
Have a great one!