Best Kids Apps

In a hurry? Try our lists of bests

 

Sometimes you just don’t have time to shop for apps — we totally get that.

 

If you’re running out the door to a vacation, family dinner, or doctor’s appointment and you only have five minutes to find some good apps, start here.



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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10 Kids Apps to Download Now

Three wonderful starter sets of apps for kids of all ages

At the end of a year spent playing and reviewing hundreds of apps, it’s fun to look back and call out a few favorites.

We haven’t listed prices because frankly, they change a lot, especially this time of year.  Click through to the App Store for more information if any of these catch your eye!

10 GREAT APPS FOR KIDS AGED 0-4

1.  Little Fox Music Box 

2.  Letter School 

3.  ABC Zooborns 

4.  Princess Fairy Tale Maker 

5.  Peekaboo Barn

6.  Interactive Alphabet

7.  The Going to Bed Book

8.  Elmo Loves ABCs for iPad

9.  Fish School HD

10.  Memory Train

 

10 GREAT APPS FOR KIDS AGED 5-8

1.  Scribblenauts remix

2.  Toca Tailor

3.  Sprinkle Junior

4.  Word Wizard

5.  The Singing Alphabet

6.  Math Bingo

7.  Toca Hair Salon 2

8.  Barefoot World Atlas

9.  Doodle Fit

10.  My First Classical Music App

 

10 GREAT APPS FOR KIDS AGED 9-12

1.  Stack the States

2.  Khan Academy

3.  Granny Smith

4.  Hidden Object Crosswords HD

5.  Math Doodles

6.  Beat Sneak Bandit

7.  Temple Run

8.  Clueless Crossword Party

9.  Jumbline 2

10.  Doodlecast for Kids



6 Best Kids’ Christmas Apps of 2012

Great apps to put some cheer in your kids' holiday

This year brings a new crop of fun Christmas apps, including an updated Dr. Seuss classic and an addictively fun game based on the new DreamWorks movie the Rise of the Guardians. Holiday traditions like advent calendars and the Elf on the Shelf make for great apps that will keep your kids occupied while you’re whittling down your to-do list. Here’s a few of our favorite new Christmas apps for 2012.

1.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Dr. Seuss $4.99, Ages 3-6

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss is one of the classics that I might just love more than my kids. This interactive book lets kids choose to read the story themselves, have it read by a narrator, or autoplay, which reads the story and turns the pages. You can also record yourself reading the story and share it with others.

The interactive features are somewhat limited – kids can touch pictures to see the words like “tree” or “snow” pop up, which my youngest thought was great fun. My five-year-old could care less about the reading aspect – she liked the autoplay version best because it was like the movie.

If your kids like this one, they’ll enjoy Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, also from Oceanhouse Media, which has all the same features.

2.  A Snowman Maker
$0.99, Ages 5-8

This app lets you create and accessorize your own snowman with lots of different options for decorations. You can choose your own background, décor (like presents and reindeer), the color of your snowman (yellow, anyone?), and all kinds of fun bling.

Kids may want to drag and drop the different accessories on their snowman at first, but once they figure out they need to touch the icons and then touch them on the screen where they want them placed, they’ll be zipping right along. You can save and share your snowman once the kids are done, and then hit the “avalanche” button to clear the screen and start again from scratch.

3.  Christmas Fun – All in One Holiday Spirit HD
$2.99, Ages 0-4

If you’re looking for just one Christmas app, this one will give you the best value. It has 13 different games and activities to keep kids with even the shortest attention spans busy for a while. Many of the games like the puzzles, gingerbread peek-a-boo, and matching games are great for younger kids.

Older kids will have fun with the dress-up, coloring and puzzle games. Other activities include stories, songs, and interactive toy train that teaches spelling.

4.  Holiday Advent Calendar 2012
$0.99, Ages 0+

Count down to Christmas with this advent calendar. You can choose to open one present each day to decorate the Christmas tree (and see other fun surprises) or open all the presents at once if your kids just can’t wait.

You can drag down the sun to turn the scene to night, see the landscape get covered in snow, touch the snowflakes to make them disappear, and change the music on the radio. One of the great things about this app is it’s simplicity, making it intuitive enough for even the youngest kids.

5.  DreamWorks Dash n Drop
$0.99, Ages 5-8

This game features the characters from the new DreamWorks movie the Rise of the Guardians on a mission to collect and deliver presents, while avoiding the Nightmare creatures who will steal the gifts. As kids collect presents, coins and elves, they advance to new cities.

The mechanics of the game are basic – you touch the screen to make the sleigh dive and release to let it climb, but it’s surprisingly addictive. Even if your kids haven’t seen the movie, they’ll have fun with this app.

6.  Snowball Fight – Elf on the Shelf – Christmas Game
FREE, Ages 2-4

The elves take a break from reporting to Santa who’s been naughty or nice and have a snowball fight in this game, an official Elf on the Shelf app. Your elf gets points for hitting other elves with snowballs, but be sure not to hit Santa! As you advance to higher levels, the snowballs come faster and faster.

It would be more fun if you could move your elf to different parts of the screen, but you’re only able to tap the screen where you want to throw the snowballs. This would be a fun companion game for a family that has the Elf on the Shelf, but it also stands on its own.

Want more? Check out our favorite Christmas apps from 2011.

–Jennifer Colvin