No matter where you stand on the great screen time debate, you probably agree that if your kids are going to be online, it might be nice if they learned something. And if that “something” isn’t fun, they won’t engage. Most teachers will tell you that some of our kids’ best learning happens when they don’t even know they’re doing it.
So we’ve pulled together some of our favourite fun and educational apps for kids so you can feel better about handing them an iPad for the first or the tenth time this week.
Whether it’s astronomy or animals, reading or math, there’s something here for every age and almost any interest.
ABC Mouse – Features more than 7,000 fun and interactive learning activities in science, math, reading, art and more. For iOS, KindleFire and most Android phones. Free, with in-app purchases. abcmouse.com/apps
Bimi Boo Kids – Baby “flash cards”, numbers 1-20, colouring and more, all with adorable, colourful characters that make learning fun. For iOS and Android devices. Free, with in-app purchases. bimiboo.com
Endless Alphabet – Cute, colourful monsters teach kids their ABCs and build vocabulary in a fun environment where players can advance at their own pace. For iOS and Android devices. $11.99 originatorkids.com
Endless Reader – As the follow-up to Endless Alphabet (above), this app introduces sight words in a fun, educational way using lovable Endless monsters. Your little reader can watch letters come alive as “dog” becomes a barking canine. For iOS and Android devices. The app is free but a bundle of 12 word packs is $39.99 and single word packs are $8.99. originatorkids.com
Green Eggs & Ham – The classic Dr. Seuss story comes to life through a variety of learning activities that kids can read themselves or set to autoplay. Readers can tap, drag or tilt their device for surprises throughout. For iOS and Android devices. $5.49 itunes.apple.com/ca/app/green-eggs-and-ham | play.google.com
Habitat the Game – Kids can learn about the environment by adopting a virtual polar bear and completing real-world actions, like conserving energy and water, to keep him healthy. For iOS and Android devices. Free. habitatthegame.com
Sago Mini World – Winner of a Parents’ Choice Gold Award and Kidscreen Award, this popular, colourful app lets preschoolers travel through space, deep-sea dive, test their superhero skills, build a robot and much more. For iOS and Android devices. Free, with in-app purchases. sagomini.com/apps
Toca Nature – Release your little one into the wild to build virtual lakes and hills that uniquely illustrated rabbits, fish, beavers and other creatures can call home. For iOS and Android devices. $5.49 tocaboca.com/app/toca-nature
Little Kids (5-8)
GoNoodle – Get kids moving and mindful with the app that provides yoga videos, mindfulness activities and fun dance-alongs. Whether your child needs to calm down or shake out the sillies, GoNoodle can help. For iOS and Android devices. Free. gonoodle.com
DNA Play – If only this existed when Dr. Frankenstein was alive! Your little scientist can understand the concept of DNA by solving little puzzles that result in monster mutations. For iOS and Android devices. $3.99 avokiddo.com/apps/dnaplay
Plants by Tiny Bop – Kids can discover the wonders of nature including desert, forest and grassland terrains through this multi-award winning app that features dozen of species and surprises around every corner. For iOS and Android devices. $2.79 tinybop.com/apps/plants
Monkey Word School Adventure – Writing, spelling, phonics (and monkeys!) are the focus of this fun, educational app that introduces young readers to word components like consonants and irregular vowels. For iOS and Android devices. $2.79 itunes.apple.com/ca/app/monkey-word-school-adventure | play.google.com/MonkeyWord
Superhero Comic Book Maker – 55 scenes, colouring pages and stickers await your little animator in this delightful app. Not only can kids create monsters and superheroes for their very own comic book, they can also narrate their own story. For iOS and Android devices. Free. duckduckmoose.com
Toca Builders – Dropping and smashing rocks is pretty fun in real life but it’s even more fun when you can’t break your toe AND you’re with a bunch of builder friends on an island far, far away. Kids will love using blocks to create a whole new world, just like their older siblings do in Minecraft. For iOS and Android devices. $5.49. tocaboca.com/app/toca-builders
Big Kids (8-12)
Khan Academy – More than 10,000 videos and explanations in math, science, history and more are at kids’ fingertips with the Khan Academy app and at khanacademy.org. Practice questions, step-by-step hints and go at your own pace learning make this an effective and enjoyable departure from the traditional school curriculum. For iOS and Android devices Free.
Prodigy Math Game – Billed as “the world’s most engaging math game”, Prodigy Math features free access to more than 900 crucial math skills for grades 1-8. Best of all, the app is free and the only in-app purchase is an optional game upgrade. No wonder 15 million users and counting are relying on Prodigy Math to help them navigate everyone’s most hated subject. For iOS and Android devices. Free, with in-app purchases. itunes.apple.com/ca/app/prodigy-math-game | play.google.com/store/apps/prodigygame
Room 3 – If you consider learning how to escape a virtual dungeon a valuable life skill then look no further than Room 3 where hours of puzzle-solving and exploring in a creepy, dreamlike world await. For iOS and Android devices. Recommended for iPhone 5 and up or iPad 3 and up. $5.49 fireproofgames.com
Skyview – Identify stars and constellations simply by opening the app and pointing your device at the sky. Now, when your kid asks “Where’s the milky way?” you can find it together. Or, she can find it and show you. For iOS and Google Play. Free. itunes.apple.com/ca/app/skyview-explore-the-universe | play.google.com
Solar Walk 2 – Jump on a comet, look inside Saturn, or check out the gorgeous 3D representations of the Sun, the Moon and other planetary objectives. With Solar Walk 2 the possibilities are pretty much unlimited for your budding astronomer. For iOS and Android devices. $3.99 vitotechnology.com
Terraria – Build! Dig! Fight! Explore! Your little gamer will have fun building her way through different worlds, from floating sky islands to the deepest, darkest underworld. She can play by herself or using the multiplayer option (because swinging a pickaxe is always more fun with friends.) For iOS, Android and Kindle devices. $6.99 terraria.org
Kids of All Ages
Duolingo – The Wall Street Journal called Duolingo “far and away the best language-learning app” and we can’t disagree. Kids as young as four can choose from more than 30 languages and learn to speak them in a motivating, game-like environment practicing reading, writing, speaking and conversation. For iOS and Android devices. Free, with optional in-app purchases. duolingo.com
IXL – Kids from kindergarten to grade 12 can explore thousands of exciting challenges in math and English. Reports and weekly updates can help parents, teachers and tutors track student progress. For iOs and Android devices. FREE with in-app purchases. ixl.com/apps
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