Best Kids Apps

Best Kids Apps of 2011

10 of the year's best iPad, iPhone and Android apps for kids
Jamie Pearson. and work as an Freelance writer, a mother of two, and the publisher of two popular-ish websites: Best Kids Apps and Travel Savvy Mom. at BestKidsApps.

It’s that time of year when we look back at the hundreds of apps that have come across our screens and pick ten favorites.   It’s not just iPad and iPhone apps either — some of the best games are available on Android now too.

Don’t agree with our picks?  Don’t despair.  We’re introducing the Best Kids Apps Readers’ Choice Awards this year –  you’ll get your chance soon.

1.  WORLD OF GOO
Help the curious goo balls explore the beautiful and bizarre world of goo.

iPad, iPhone |  Age rating: 4+ | Price: $4.99/2.99

Best Kids Apps of 2011An quirky and inventive physics game with haunting music and lots of challenges.

A group of adorable goo balls must work together to climb, stretch, and conquer the laws of gravity while exploring their strangely beautiful, dystopian world.

2.  PLAYTIME THEATER
An amazing portable puppet show theater for the iPad.

iPad |  Age rating: 5+ | Price: $2.99

Best Kids Apps of 2011Acustomizable, interactive castle play set that gives kids characters, props, and sound effects and invites them to create and record short shows.

This truly innovative app delivers what so many others promise (but don’t quite deliver): free play.

In a crowded field, this app stands out as one of the best uses of touch-screen technology that we’ve ever seen for kids.

3.  SLICE IT!
A fun puzzle game that will give brains of all ages a work out.

iPad, iPhone, Android |  Age rating: 4+ | Price: $0.99/.99/free

Best Kids Apps of 2011Divide various shapes into equal sized pieces.  Dividing a square in half?  Easy peasy.  Dividing a star into three pieces?  Therein lies the challenge for brains and fingers young and old.   This is not an app for the easily frustrated!

The crumpled graph paper graphics are gorgeous, the music is upbeat, and the navigation is seamless.  Also, you accrue hint points as you go…and guess what?  You’re going to need them.
Best Kids Apps of 2011

4.  BUMPY ROAD
Guide a pair of Sunday drivers on an old-fashioned road trip.

iPad, iPhone |  Age rating: 3+ | Price: $2.99

Best Kids Apps of 2011A sweet, old-fashioned couple decides to take a Sunday drive — at least until they run out of gas or drive into a lake.  It’s your job (or your kid’s job) to keep them going by making the road literally rise up to meet them.

Hop up to platforms, avoid holes and water hazards as you toodle along Memory Lane…just like on a real road trip.  This is less a game than a fully-featured interactive work of art.

5.  ELMO LOVES ABCs FOR IPAD
A beloved classic character breaks down the alphabet for kids.

iPad |  Age rating: 1+ | Price: $4.99

Best Kids Apps of 2011Elmo Loves ABCs is a fun and interactive way for your child to learn the alphabet. Trace upper case and lower case letters to unlock 80 Sesame Street video clips. Touch the star and Elmo guides your child to touch letters and find visual word associations.

My two and half year old returns to this app over and over again. The number of different letter and puzzle/video scenarios keep her engaged for much longer than most apps. I call that good value. Keep unlocking videos to discover other Sesames Street characters—Elmo takes the lead, but Bert, Ernie and others from the gang are in there too.

6.  DOODLECAST FOR KIDS
Finger sketch, narrate, and then animate your drawings.

iPad, iPhone |  Age rating: 2+ | Price: $ 1.99

Best Kids Apps of 2011Starting with a series of 20 drawing prompts, which include themes (fast, yucky, messy, hairy, loud, and so on) and elements (water, park, mouth, eyes,  and a plate for food, among others), kids draw a picture with their fingers with an intuitive palette of colors.

This is where things get interesting: as your child is drawing, she can narrate.  Like this: “The big…  hungry… dinosaur… in the flower hat…ATE MY DAD!”  The app records both the drawing sequence and the child’s voice, and the video playbacks (which can be exported) are priceless.

7.  TINY WINGS
Help a baby bird learn to fly before night falls and he dozes off.

iPad, iPhone, Android |  Age rating: 4+ | Price: $0.99

Best Kids Apps of 2011A sweet app in which you teach a baby bird to fly by helping him run down the hills to get enough momentum to soar, collecting coins along the way.

Touch the screen to “tuck” the baby birds’ wings in.  This helps him go faster downhill and gain momentum.  Don’t tuck on the uphill stretches though, or he won’t make it to the end of the level before nightfall. Speaking of nightfall, it’s no big deal.  The bird falls asleep.  No death or drama that will upset sensitive kids.

8.  MUSICAL ME
Learn about music, notes, and rhythm on your iPad.

iPad, iPhone |  Age rating: 2+ | Price: $1.99

Kids fly around with a little mouse called Mozzarella doing things like copying note patterns (by tapping singing planets), making animals dance to the beat,  moving notes up and down a staff to make their own music (under the sea, of course!), and picking an instrument to play along with a song.

For the activities with accompanying songs, kids can choose among a handful of the classics.  The graphics are perfect and everything is intuitive, replayable, and very fun.

9.  MY PLAYHOME
An amazingly interactive dollhouse for the iPad generation.

iPad, iPhone |  Age rating: 1+ | Price: $2.99/1.99

Best Kids Apps of 2011Kids as young as two (and as old as ten) will enjoy discovering the many interactive features built in to this seeming simple but multi-layered dollhouse app.  There are no scores, deadlines, power ups, or lives to lose.  Just four fun-filled rooms to explore in a sweet and simple house.

There are so many fun surprises in every room!  Put in a new CD.  Take a bite out of an apple.  Fry an egg.  Brush your teeth.  Pet the cat.  Get some cold pizza out of the fridge.  Your kids won’t get bored any time soon.

10.  MEMORY TRAIN
A sweet memory game that rewards focus and concentration.

iPad, iPhone |  Age rating: 2+ | Price: $0.99

Best Kids Apps of 2011Spacey the elephant is on a train on his way to the circus.  Out of his window, he sees objects on the passing landscape.  Kids help him remember characteristics of what he saw to earn stars, badges, and (of course!) peanuts.

What color was the object?  What was the number?  What three things just passed by?  No reading required and no voice over (everything is communicated with pictorial thought bubbles) mean that very young children can play in places where they need to be quiet.

6 thoughts on “Best Kids Apps of 2011

  1. Gernot says:

    Don’t forget “Dr. Shiver” – an operation style boardgame reamke.

  2. david says:

    Math Training for Kids

    Math Training for Kids is a fun way for your kids to practice their basic arithmetic. Choose from three difficulty levels, and the four signs of math: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The player gets five lives and a limited amount of time to answer each math question. With each correct answer, a sunflower comes to life. When you finish a level, you’re rewarded with a fun splash screen.

    iPhone/iPad: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/math-training-for-kids-lite/id471308444?mt=8

    Android: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.divmob.eastermath.game.GameActivity

  3. Charlotte says:

    I think also that the World of Goo app is one of my favorites.

  4. Andrey says:

    Please note that WORLD OF GOO is available for Android as well. https://market.android.com/details?id=com.twodboy.worldofgoofull

  5. PaulHMA says:

    My Playhome is my kids favorite app. It’s the only kids app I have actually paid for.

  6. Sandra34 says:

    Little Miss Muffet HD is my daughter’s favourite. It is one of the most interactive apps I’ve seen. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/little-miss-muffet-hd/id465113307?mt=8

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