Best Kids Apps

Lists of Bests

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!


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



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



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

Best Halloween Apps of 2012

Plenty of treats here and not a trick in the bunch

Halloween apps don’t have to be all blood and guts. They can be educational, cute, creative—and yes—even lead you to crafty non-digital fun, too. Here are our picks for the year’s best Halloweeny, pre-trick-or-treating fun. We’ve got playful, non-frightening apps for babies and toddlers, puzzle apps for preschoolers, totally silly monster apps the whole family can play, and the digital age’s take on an all-time Halloween classic. Download and have fun!

Like Pinterest but only the yummy craft projects.

iPhone | Age: Parents | Price: Free

Feast your eyes on endless DIY crafts. Sorted by latest entries, most popular in the last week, month or of all time. Register and login for free to make a list of your own faves.

If you search “Halloween” you’ll find endless pages of crafts for kids of all ages like fuzzy monster bracelets, friendly jar lanterns  for decorating your sidewalk and porch, costumes and Halloween face paints, plus dozens of crafts kids can do themselves. Don’t wait until Halloween, get started on the fun today.

 An easy Halloween app for babies and toddlers

iPadiPhone | Age: 0-2 | Price: $1.99 

Touch the moving doors to find out which Halloween themed animal or character is inside. A word pops up to correspond with the image and a friendly child’s voice speaks the word aloud.

Small children can do word association with fun Halloween themes as they open the door to various characters including a friendly ghost, pirate, robot, gorilla, pirate, Frankenstein monster (not scary), witch and more. When you get to the end all the characters turn up and dance around. If your child already enjoys Peekaboo Barn, they’ll like this app too.


A Halloween-themed puzzle app for fun that’s good for you.

Android |  Age: 1-5 | Price: $1.99

A Halloween app that also helps children build their cognitive and fine motor skills. Kids drag multicolored shapes to the pattern board. Once all the shapes are completed, a Halloween-themed image appears. There are more than 30 friendly images including pumpkins, ghosts, witches and more.

A fun photo book for parents to set up and play with their babies and toddlers.

iPadiPhone | Age: 0-4 | Price: $0.99 

Take new photos with your device’s camera or select photos from your camera roll and watch as the Halloween story book unfolds with your kids as the main characters in the story.

A female voice reads the story of costumed kiddos trick or treating in different Halloween costumes from puppies and pudgy pumpkins to mice and scarecrows. Note: Some preschoolers might have fun taking or loading the pics themselves but m0st of the costumes that the faces fill are baby or toddler sized outfits.

The timeless Halloween classic makes it to the digital screen.

iPadiPhone, Android| Age: 2+ | Price: $4.99 

Moms and Dads grew up watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” on TV, and now they can keep the story as a family tradition via their iPad. The app reads like a book or can be read to you narrated by the original voice of Charlie Brown.

The app is filled with interactions both within the story, as well as added activities (hence the hefty sticker price). Kids can create their own Peanuts-themed avatars, carve a pumpkin, learn to play the piano with Schroeder and more. There are also activities peppered throughout the story and when they are completed your child has a chance to win a prize…


Simon Says meets the Addams family.

iPadiPhone | Age: 5-8 | Price: FREE 

And you thought your kids had outgrown annoying sound machine games. Nope. This Halloween house is filled with a noisy Witch, Frankenstein, Dracula and Werewolf.

They will sing a pattern of ghoulish laughs and howls – it’s your job to repeat the sound patten. Fun for the whole family to play together or if your lone child gets addicted you might want to send them to a remote part of the house to play. Or get ear plugs.


Lego pieces form to create Halloween characters, costumes and more

iPad, iPhone | Age: 5-8 | Price: FREE

Lego lovers unite! This fun and addictiveLego game is hard to put down. The clock is ticking as a Halloween-themed Lego creature , costumes, place or thing is built quickly before your very eyes.

The sooner you can guess what it is – the more points you score. Roll the dice after each play to see which category you’ll get next. We just wish there was a two, three or four player setting. If it’s there, I couldn’t find it.


Remember the game Operation? This is way better.

iPad | Age: 6+ | Price: $2.99

Quick! You’ve got less than 20 seconds to place 10 falling body parts to the skeleton. There are five different games. You’ll be shocked at how your kids can put together a brain, the digestive system, and more. Go on, help Dr. Frankenstein create the perfect monster.

Note: All of the apps above were either released in 2012, or in cases where they were launched in 2011, have been recently updated in 2012. If you’d like more great Halloween apps, don’t miss our list from last year, Best Halloween IPad Apps of 2011.

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