Best Kids Apps

These are the golden years — enjoy them!

 

Once kids can read, the world is their oyster!  Kindergarten to 4th grade is the sweet spot for educational apps, and we’ll help you find some winners.

 

The best part?  Kids will be dabbling in reading, geography, science, and math without even knowing it.   Enjoy this — it doesn’t last.



Best Travel Apps for Your Summer Road Trip

Apps and travel go together like summer and pool time. There are so many app choices out there with very different uses when it comes to travel. I’m going to skip the travel booking apps and get straight to the apps that you’ll use while you’re actually in the car. From driving directions and dog-friendly restaurants to last minute hotels and crazy road side attractions your kids will love—pack these handy road trip apps to keep the drive smooth, steady and fun.

Best Travel Apps For Parents

Waze | Free | iOS, Android, Windows

This is the superhero of navigation apps. Not only does it tell you how long it will take to get to your destination, and offer alternate routes if you don’t like the main one, but the info is derived from other drivers. Get warnings of upcoming police and hazards on the road. Older kids might have fun adding updates themselves. Just watch out, it’s a battery suck. Have it plugged in to battery juice from your car if you’re going to use it for any length of time.

Roadtrippers | Free | iOS, Android

Your road trip is way cooler than you think it is. Use this app to plan your route and your pitstops. From suggestions for Diners, Drive-ins and Dives to Route 66 Attractions and Offbeat hotels – this is a one stop shop road trip app whether you’re using it ahead of time or on the road. Check out the website before you download for lots of inspiration. I’ve used it to find great kid-friendly restaurants and parks.

Road Ninja | Free | iOS, Android



This app helps you find out what kind of services are coming up at future exits. Need a McDonald’s break? How about some cheap gas? I recommend setting this app up in advance of your trip so you can control the amount and type of options you want to see in your app for upcoming exits and budget travelers can even scroll through promotions for  nearby deals.

Hotel Tonight | Free | iOS, Android, Windows

OK, I said I was going to stay away from travel booking apps, but I used this app on a road trip last year and I find it incredibly handy.  Hotel Tonight helps you find a last minute hotel room at a discounted price. Handy, right?! I particularly love that they classify the hotels by easy to distinguish categories like Solid, Hip, Luxe. Check out all the different destinations they cover across the U.S. and worldwide. https://www.hoteltonight.com/

Bring Fido | Free | iOS

If you’re bringing your dog(s) on your next epic American road trip, you’ll want to find pet friendly hotels, parks, and dog friendly restaurants. This app has you covered. Find photos and user ratings of the hotels, too. Go ahead, make your life easier.

Best Travel Apps For Kids

Tales 2 Go | Free trial (subscription $99.99/year) | iOS 

What? Your kids get car sick looking at books and apps in the car? No sweat. Tales2Go is here to help. It’s the Netflix of audio books. Follow your favorite book characters, listen in Spanish, choose books by celebrity narrator or by grade level. It really brings the whole family together not to mention makes your road trip more educational. Win win. There is a subscription fee but they also give you a free 30-day trial.

Mad Libs | Free, $1.99 for 21 pack story additions | iOS

Bridge the gap between the old school road trip fun you used to have when you were a kid and the digital age version for your own children. Type in nouns, take pictures or use photos from your smartphone or iPad’s photo gallery, and watch the comedy ensue. It even saves your story as a photo for recalling the fun after the trip has ended.

Roadside America | $2.99 + $1.99 for certain sections or $5.99 all access | iOs


Ever wanted to take your picture next to a crazy large object on the side of the road? This is your app. Introduce your kids to the weird and wonderful across our United States of America. Editors review their favorites and you can check off which ones you’ve already visited. And there’s even a sunset alarm so you get the heads up for your last photo opportunities. They also make it easy to share your discoveries through Facebook and Twitter.

Visited States | $.99 | iOS

It’s OK if Dad said  you couldn’t plaster a magnetic States map across your car. This app lets you mark off which states you’ve already been to. It’s a simple app but does the trick. And you can brag to your friends about where you’ve been by sending them images of your map.

Happy and safe travels!

 



Best Apps for Kids Home from School Sick

When it comes to staying home from school sick, my kids are absolute maestros.  They know instinctively which symptoms can’t be empirically authenticated and which days are least convenient for me.  Looking for the best apps for kids on a sick day?  Here are a few they can mess around with while coughing on the couch.

 

Best Apps for Kids1.  Best kids app to teach anatomy:
THE HUMAN BODY

An animated working model of home sweet home.
iPhone, iPad | Age: 4+ | Price: $2.99

The Human Body takes a very fun and basic look at the working parts of the human body.  It’s a colorful, interesting, and fun introduction to physiology.  Kids can send food through the digestive system, tickle the human with a feather to see the nervous system in action, and browse through a brain.

It’s animated, so don’t worry about graphic photos — there aren’t any.  Also, the urogenital system is available as an in-app purchase (which you can obviously skip if you’d rather not have your children poring over that particular bit of the body).

 

Best Apps for Kids who are afraid of the doctor2. Best kids app for playing doctor:
DOC MCSTUFFINS: TIME FOR YOUR CHECK UP!

Cure toys of funny, made-up maladies.
iPhone, iPad | Age: 3+ | Price: $3.99

Going to the doctor can be scary for little people.  Yes, it’s fun to have your reflexes tested with a rubber hammer, but there’s always the threat of a shot.  Kids can role play doctor visits with this sweet app.  Dolls and toys come down with such maladies as “mixupitis” and “driedout-a-tosis” and it’s up to your kids to cure them.

 

Best Apps for Kids to learn about nutrition3.  Best kids app to teach nutrition:
SMASH YOUR FOOD HD

Smash burgers, sodas, and pizza and find what kind of nutrition lurks inside.
iPad | Age: 3+ | Price: $1.99

Ah, the lifelong challenge of teaching kids to make better food choices (especially when parents aren’t always taking their own advice).  Still, good nutrition is foundational to good health, so we have to keep trying.

This fun app has kids set up a profile based on gender, age, and activity level.  Then they analyze foods (using nutrition labels) and smash them in a crazy machine to see if the amount of sugar, salt, and oil is more or less than what they should be getting.  A perfect mix of health, math, and fun!

 

Best Apps for kids to learn about germs4.  Best kids app to teach hygiene:
THE BERENSTAIN BEARS COME CLEAN FOR SCHOOL

Ah…ah…ah…CHOO!
iPhone, iPad | Age: 3+ | Price: $2.99

Avoiding germs to stay healthy is one of those things that’s easier said than done — especially for children who play together all day.  This interactive story book reinforces the message while gently moving kids forward in early literacy.  Will the little bears apply what they learn and avoid getting sick at school?  I won’t ruin the ending for you.

Did we miss any best apps for kids that teach about health, nutrition, germs, and hygiene?  Tell us about your favorites in the comments below.



Best Halloween Apps of 2013 for iPhone, iPad and Android

If you love celebrating the holidays with new apps like we do, these fun Halloween apps for your iPhone, iPad and Android are big hits. Some of them are good for your kids to play on their own, and others are fun for the whole family to read or play together.

1. Haunted House – 3D Pop Up Activity Book
3D Halloween fun with lots of games and activities.
iPhone, iPad, iPod| Age: 5+ | Price: $1.99

The 3D is terrific in this book and I was surprised at how much there was to do. Search a Haunted House for hidden pumpkins and let friendly Halloween monsters cheer you on. Help a witch make a magic potion with creepy ingredients from bugs and garlic to burps and monster feet. Tickle Frankenstein and watch his parts fall off, then put him back together again. That’s just a few of the many games and puzzles in this well-crafted book of Halloween fun.

 

2. Hello Kitty Edition. Halloween Dress Up
A sweet dress up app for Hello Kitty fans.
iPhone, iPad, Android| Age: 4+ | Price: Free



Whether your child is a long time Hello Kitty fan, or brand new to the classic icon, this is a fun costume app to play with. Help Hello Kitty get dressed up for Halloween. You can give her a pre-made bee, bunny, and skeleton costume or pick and choose your own outfit for her from an assortment of Halloween themed dresses and accessories. And of course she needs a pet.  Give her a kitten or teddy bear. When you’re done, click on the camera to send your Hello Kitty as a postcard to a friend via email, Twitter or Facebook.

3. The Little Witch at School
A cute Halloween story with educational activities
iPhone, iPad, Android| Age: 4-10 | Price: $3.49 (Android) -$3.99

A delightful animated storybook where a little witch and her friend take their first witch and wizardry examination. Help the witch find letters to form magic words, fill in a coloring canvas by doing math (easy, medium and hard levels) and even play with a magic crystal ball. The book runs 25 pages deep and can either be read to you or allow you to read by yourself. The illustrations are top notch and charming. Read this one to your younger kids or let older ones play by themselves. There is also a “Lite” version if you want to test the first six pages. 

 

4. Make a Zombie
Wicked fun for older kids.
iPhone, iPad, Android| Age: 7+| Price: Free

If your kids love talking about the zombie apocalypse, here’s a less “real” app to let them turn cartoon creeps into the messiest of zombies. Simple ghoulish fun that will have them laughing for hours. This app actually came out last year, but since it missed our list we wanted to make sure we had a fun app for the older kids on this year’s list. Watch out for in-app purchases though.  You can even print out your zombie and order clothes with your custom zombie design too.

 

5. Mr. Shingu’s Paper Halloween
A creative digital art project that turns into a game too!
iPhone, iPad, Android| Age: 5+| Price: Free

Watch out moms, you might be fighting your kids to play with this app. Mr. Shingu teaches you how to fold six origami Halloween characters with simple folds. After you make your Jack-o-lantern, Dracula, Frankenstein, Ghost, Skull or Witch— color it the way you want it before it turns into a game where the child collects candy before the monster gets them. Fun!

 6. Room on the Broom Games
A creative digital art project that turns into a game too!
iPhone, iPad, Android| Age: 3-7| Price: $4.99 (Android)

We couldn’t resist this app because we adore the Halloween book with the same name. It’s great to see the characters from the book animated on the digital screen but some of the games took a little figuring out for my iPad savvy Pre-K daughter. If you are giving to younger kids, play it first or with them. Hopefully they’ll add a some tutorials for a future release, but in the meantime have fun creating star maps for the witch to ride or help the frog, bird and dog find hidden objects the witch has dropped.

7. Spider Way
An addicting spider game that makes you think on your feet!
iPhone, iPad, Android| Age: 4+| Price: Free (Android)

Lead red, blue and yellow spiders to their homes. Draw web bridges to help them find their way and tap them to make them crawl faster. It starts off easy enough for preschoolers to play…and slowly progresses to harder levels. The app is free but if I like an app, like this one, I pay to remove the ads ($0.99). Especially if I intend to let kids play the app on their own. This is a fun and addicting game that makes you think.

 

8. Stella and Sam Halloween Band
>A sweet musical app for little kids.
iPhone, iPad| Age: Toddlers+| Price: $1.99 

If your little ones love touching, poking and clicking on dots, circles and xylophones to make musical sounds—this app will be a treat. If you’re familiar with the terrific story and activity book app Stella and Sam, you’ll recognize the characters dressed up in their Halloween costumes and playing music for you. Enjoy some easy, simple fun for little kids.

 

If you’d like more great Halloween apps (especially for younger app users), don’t miss our list from the last two years, Best Halloween Apps of 2012 and  Best Halloween IPad Apps of 2011.

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