In the Apple world, many developers offer apps for free, then make money with ads or in-app purchases. For Android, it’s different. We don’t list them all, but you’ll have a lot more free apps to choose from.
For both platforms, there’s really no right answer. Some parents prefer to avoid free apps. Some don’t mind a little marketing. Do what works for you.
There are two good reasons for treating your kids to some Valentine’s Day apps: 1) You’d want to give them a non-candy treat to show them you care. Or quite possibly a more realistic reason—2) Your kids are in the throes of a Valentine’s Day sugar rush and you need to bribe them into calming down.
Download these cute apps and storybooks and try out the magic words, “I bought a new app for you!” It works for me every time.
1. COOPER’S BIG BEAR HUG
A sweet teddy bear finds a way to tell his mom he loves her
Did you know that Hallmark had a line of interactive storybooks? They do! This is the latest edition to their line of stuffed animals + apps. The app is totally free but the stuffed teddy bear that reacts to your voice and the story is sold for $29.95 in stores. We enjoyed the app without the bear. You can read or have the storybook read to you, then play games like Cooper-themed jigsaw puzzles. The puzzle pieces don’t lock into place as nicely as the ones you might’ve seen on apps like Miss Spider’s Tea Party, but there are lots of puzzles to choose from.
2. BISCUIT’S VALENTINE’S DAY
Deliver valentines and play games with Biscuit the cute puppy
Leave it to Biscuit to celebrate another holiday with a storybook. Follow Biscuit and the girl as they deliver the Valentine’s (but make sure to find the hidden bone for Biscuit on each page!) Much more than just a book—you can read the story or have it read to you. There are also memory games, a coloring book, sticker activities and more.
Touch your screen and watch dazzling hearts dance across the sky. Drag your finger in swirls and the hearts appear and follow your path on the iPhone or iPad’s screen. Make shapes and letters with the hearts too. Good for the littlest of app users who are happy with colors and music, or for kids who like to let their imaginations run wild. If your child likes Smule Magic Piano HD, they’ll probably want to play with this hearty app for Valentine’s Day too. Bonus: If you like your child’s creation, you can share their work via email, Twitter and Facebook.
Everyone loves cake pops! Well these virtual treats are just as fun as eating the real one. The app is free to start, but then you can add on decorations and the “Valentine’s Day Kit”. It lets you play with a few free features, but it’d be nicer to have an app where you only have to pay once – but if you love Cake Pops, you’re sure to have fun decorating these stick desserts.
iPhone | Age: 4+ | Price: free – $0.99
Create your own Valentine e-cards by combining baby animal characters (kitty, puppy, sheep, unicorn, chicks, lions, rainbows and more), kid-safe love messages (in the free version, full version untested), and little cheery animal sounds. There are a variety of backgrounds including three heart types for Valentine’s Day or create backgrounds from your photo album. You can send your card creations via SMS, email, Twitter, and Facebook when you’re done. School aged kids will love them.
NOTE: As always – read the iTunes descriptions and age restrictions for each app before you buy. On the left sidebar of the app description you’ll find details as to whether or not the app contains mature/suggestive themes; alcohol,tobacco,drug use references; frequent/intense profanity, crude humor. Several of the apps found in a “Valentine’s Day” search contain material you’d only want your older children to see.
Tiny Tower is a cute, relaxing simulation game that lets kids build, own, and manage a skyscraper and all the apartments and businesses in it.
Want to build a new floor? You’ll have to successfully attract customers and sell them goods and services first.
Why we like it:
The idea of running a business is a total novelty to most kids. My 9-year-old son loves restocking his shoe store, collecting money at his laundromat, and dishing out dinner to his sushi-scarfing patrons.
You and I would call this “work”. Kids? Not so much.
He can also dress his residents in costumes, give them jobs, paint their apartments, or evict them. He’s a good landlord, though.
Although this free game offers in-app purchases to speed up progress, he’s never bought a thing. Not in this game anyway. We have a rule about that now.
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We tested version 1.5.1, which is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and Android. Developer: Nimblebit LLC. Read our disclosure policy.