Best Kids Apps


A quietly challenging puzzle app with a Zen soundtrack
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  • Age: 5+ |

  • free/free/$0.99

Quell is a peaceful puzzle game in which kids slide a droplet of water around a board to collect pearls and advance through a series of levels.

Compared to other popular puzzle apps such as Doodle Jump and Toy Balls, this one actually seems to lower blood pressure instead of raising it.

Why we like it:
Early levels are easy to solve, but then things get interesting.  Kids have to think really hard to keep advancing, and to tackle traps, hazards, and conundrums along the way.

When they get stuck — and they will — they can spend coins (which they earn by completing levels) on hints or solutions.

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We tested the Android version of Quell on the Kindle Fire.  It’s also available for the iPhone and iPad, and requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.  Developer: Fallen Tree Games.  Read our disclosure policy.

Shape-O! ABC’s

Fine motor skills and tasks for the smallest puzzlers
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  • Age: 2+ |

  • $1.99

best ipad apps for toddlers: shape-o! abc'sShape-O! ABC’s is a sweet, calming educational app that lets toddlers and preschoolers get their jigsaw puzzle fix (drag-and-drop style) with  everything from owls and mice to burgers and robots.

Also?  There are letters to be dragged and dropped too for a little sneaky reading practice.  F-O-X.

(there is also an iPhone version.)

Why we like it:

This is a very polished, visually pleasing app with intuitive navigation.  Clues are easy to come by, and kids can change the entire color scheme of a puzzle by tapping the rainbow icon.   We also like the “congratulations” graphics.  And with over a hundred puzzles, your kids can play this app all the way to Tokyo.

All in all, a perfect app for the pre-reading crowd.

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We tested version 1.02, which is compatible with the iPad (iOS 4.3 or later). Developer Bellamon.  Read our disclosure policy.

Little Things

A hidden pictures app for the smallest searchers
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  • Age: 3+ |

  • $2.99

Best iPad Apps for Kids: Little ThingsLittle Things is a hidden pictures app that strikes a perfect balance between challenge and tension for the littlest searchers.

Kids zoom in and search for a handful of hidden objects at their own pace.  There are bonuses for searching quickly, but that’s really not the emphasis.

Kids will be amazed at how easily things can hide in plain sight, and you will too!

Why we like it:

The mosaic-style graphics are awesome.  A picture of a beagle is actually made up of hundreds — if not thousands — of tiny objects.  We also like the peaceful music and low anxiety gameplay (hey, real life is stressful enough).  When kids get frustrated, they can request hints.

This is a good app for kids as young as three, but pre-readers will need an adult assistant.

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We tested version 1.2.2, which is compatible with the iPad (iOS 3.2 or later). Developer KlickTock.  Read our disclosure policy.