Best Kids Apps

Like creativity, but hate messes? We hear you

 

While screens and fingertips will never replace paint, paper, and scissors, it’s amazing how creative apps can be.

 

Drawing and coloring is only the beginning too.  Kids can bake cakes, record music, distort photos, and write books too… all without wrecking the house!



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.

Like this?  Get our App of the Week newsletter.


5 Fun Games without Winners and Losers

Between homework, piano recitals, school plays, and soccer games, most kids these days have plenty of pressure in their lives.  You know what they don’t have?  Enough mellowness.

We like tense, timed, high-scoring games as much as the next family, but sometimes you need something a little lazier.  Like playing in a mental sandbox.  Here are five apps that are fun and relaxing for kids.

_________________________________________________________________

1.  AVOKIDDO EMOTIONS
Dress, feed and play with three funny animals.
iPhone, iPad | Age: 3+ | Price: $2.99

Introduce your kids to a zany zebra, a shy sheep, and a jolly giraffe, then sit back and watch them giggle as they feed them, dress them up, and share toys with them.  This game has no rules or expectations.  Just funny, unscripted interactions.

There are some nice touches here as well.  If you put the flower lei on the zebra, the background changes to tropical.  The knit hat takes you to a snowy scene.  The sombrero takes you to a Mexican desert complete with bullfighting music.

_________________________________________________________________

2.  TOCA CARS
Drivers start your engines!
iPhone, iPad | Age: 5+ | Price: $0.99

World’s cutest car racing app!  When you race in this stylish cardboard world, there are no rules.  Want to mow down all the trees?  Go for it.  Drive through ice cream?  No problem.  Jump over a robot…while driving in reverse?  Hey, it’s your racecourse.

Kids younger than five will want to play, but may need a little help navigating.  If, like me, you knocked over all the buildings and landscaping on your first time around the track, just push the restore button!  Come to think of it, I’d like a button like that… for my house.

_________________________________________________________________

 

MY PLAYHOME STORES
Hours of imagination-driven play.
iPhone, iPad | Age: 3+ | Price: $1.99

From the creators of the wonderful, award-winning My Playhome comes this opportunity for kids to goof around in the business world! Take a walk down the street into four beautifully illustrated shops.

Kids will enjoy going to the ice cream shop, doing a little grocery shopping, and even picking out a new outfit (which is ironic of course, because seriously, what kid likes picking out a new outfit!?).   Even better, this app is fully integrated with My Playhome, so your kids can bring their purchases home.

_________________________________________________________________

4.  WEE ROCKETS
3-2-1… blastoff!
iPhone, iPad | Age: 3+ | Price: $1.99


Kids aged 2-6 will enjoy designing and building their own rockets, launching them into space, and then racing through an asteroid field to rescue all the stranded aliens.

There are 64 parts to choose from when tricking out your rocket, and 10 astronauts, so kids won’t run out of original missions any time soon.  This is a text-free and intuitive game, so it works well for readers and pre-readers alike.

_________________________________________________________________

5.  QUELL +
A peaceful puzzle game for all ages.
iPhone, iPad | Age: 6+ | Price: $1.99

Quell+ is a deceptively simple puzzle app with a Zen flavor.  Some puzzle apps lead to aggravation.  Quell just leads to feelings of peace and contentedness.  Don’t ask us why.

There is a raindrop on a game board that you must swipe vertically and horizontally in order to “collect” a series of pearls.  Unlike many games, the learning curve is smooth and gradual.  Even very young kids will be able to play a few levels before they get stumped.  Also?  Soothing spa music!

(There are in-app purchases, so make sure you turn them off in your device’s settings if that’s a concern for you.)



Fun Apps for Summer Travel

Backseat and airplane entertainment for family vacations? Check

Ah, summer.  The beach, the mountains, the lake, the… long hours in a car or airplane with impatient children.  If you’ll be flying or road tripping this summer, download a few new iPhone and iPad apps to help the miles go by a lot quicker.

1.  Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery: Episode 1
Ages: 6 and up | $0.99

Jacob Jones is off to summer camp, where everything isn’t exactly as it seems.  Along with his hairy new sidekick, he has to figure out what is going on at Camp Eaglefeather by solving a series of narrative-style puzzles that are just right for young kids.

2.  State Plate Bingo!
Ages: 4 and up | $0.99

This app really won’t keep kids occupied for hours, but it’s fun as an ongoing quest on road trips.  Can you find all 50 states in a single journey?  There’s only one way to find out.  The iPhone version works on an iPad, but isn’t optimized for it.

3.  Sago Mini Sound Box
Ages: 2 and up | free

Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers (and maybe even some older kids) will love this cute, simple music discovery app.   Kids choose an “instrument” (though it could be a puppy barking or a noisy barn).  They tap the screen to add the sounds, then grab, fling, bounce and play with them.

4.  Road Trip Bingo
Ages: 4 and up | $0.99/1.99

Got exactly two kids?  Download the only travel-themed bingo app that lets both of them compete head to head.  Your kids can scour the landscape for everything from road signs and blue cars to snow-topped mountains and dogs.

5.  StoryLines
Ages: 8 and up | free

Got three or more kids?  Check out this hilarious app that’s a lot like the telephone game we all played when we were younger!  Player one types a well known phrase, such as “The early bird gets the worm.”  Player two illustrates the phrase with a fingertip drawing.  Player three captions Player two’s drawing without seeing the original phrase.  And so on.

Don’t think it’s only for travel either.  My kids beg me to play every night.  Can’t think of a good phrase?  The developers have thought of that — just tap the suggestions button.