Fun Apps to Entertain (and Educate) Your Child

by on December 17, 2012 · 34 comments

Apps and kids go together like peanut butter and jelly. If your kids are going to be spending their time playing with apps, they may as well be learning as they play. So long as they’re having fun, they probably won’t even realize that they’re learning, no matter how smart they become!

These games are all high-quality apps, free of advertisements, and cover subjects including writing, math, geography, colors and social skills. Whether you’re looking for apps to keep your kids occupied when they travel or want to supplement subjects from school, these apps are bound to keep your child entertained while blissfully ignorant that they’re learning while they play.

MATH

Splash Math

Splash Math is a series of apps designed to teach math skills using engaging games. Splash Math apps range in levels from 1st through 5th grades so you can get the app specifically tailored for your child’s math level.

Each app is free and has in-app purchases available for different skill sets. Each app comes with a free chapter and you can buy more chapters individually for specific math skills. For example, 3rd grade Splash Math offers chapters on bar graphs and probability, while 5th grade offers chapters that cover algebra and geometry.

The apps are simple and intuitive to use, yet are sophisticated in that they learn your child’s abilities and adjust the difficulty of the problems according to correct and incorrect answers. The app also offers a scratch pad so your child can perform more complex calculations.

Here’s a video showing a Splash Math app in action:

You can receive emails from the app to see how your child is progressing and what skill areas need attention.

The apps are fun, with themes and the ability to choose an avatar. There are so many different levels, skills, problems and topics that your children can be engaged for hours while improving their math abilities.

Splash Math apps are available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch with HD apps available for iPad. See all of the Splash Math apps at the Splash Math website.

Marble Math and Marble Math Junior

If your child enjoys maze games, then check out Marble Math and Marble Math Junior, where children solve math problems by rolling a marble through a maze. Children can either roll the marble or move it with their finger to answer the math problems.

Here’s a video showing Marble Math:

Marble Math is designed for children ages 9 and older, Marble Math Junior is for children ages 5-8, with audio prompts for beginning readers. They can learn multiplication tables, counting money (USD, GBP, EUR, CAD and AUD), Roman numerals, fractions and other math concepts while completing the maze.

Marble Math and Marble Math Junior are available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch for $1.99 each in the iTunes App Store

Alien Buddies

Alien Buddies is an app designed for pre-school students, ages 3-7. This app is filled with engaging and educational activities to teach your child early learning fundamentals. The app includes puzzles, matching games, dot-to-dot activities and stickers, each with different difficulty levels to make sure the fun doesn’t stop as the learning continues. The app uses auditory and visual cues to develop a child’s processing skills with a variety of senses.

The app helps with a child’s skills in math, color, shape, number and object recognition, fine motor skill development, and reading. Auditory prompts are available for pre-readers and stickers are given as rewards.

Here’s how Alien Buddies teaches as kids play:

In addition to the plentiful education benefits, this app is just plain fun. The animation, stickers, games and puzzles mean that your kids will enjoy this game for a long trip and may arrive smarter than when they left.

Alien Buddies is available for $1.99 in the iTunes App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Little Digits

If your little one is learning basic math skills, the Little Digits app will turn that chore into play. Little Digits is an iPad app that teaches counting, addition and subtraction using a game. Using sight, sound and touch, the child can learn math concepts in a fun way. The app detects how many fingers are touching the iPad screen and interacts with the child by asking questions which the child answers by touching the screen with the correct number of fingers.

Here’s a video showing how the Little Digits app works:

The app helps children develop fine motor skills while learning math skills. The app is in English, but allows you to add a recording of your voice if you want to teach your child numbers in another language.

Little Digits is for children ages 3-7 and is available for $1.99 for the iPad at the iTunes App Store.

WRITING

Shake-A-Phrase

Shake a Phrase is an app designed to teach writing and English skills. The app is really three apps in one, with three different games teaching three different skills.

The first game, Shake It, combines words to form silly sentences. Like a slot machine for words, your kids will hit the jackpot as they giggle as the words come together.

Story Starter teaches creative writing. When you shake your device, the app suggests writing prompts as the beginning of a story.  Your child’s imagination may be sparked by the fun opening sentences of a tale. If you have more than one child you could have each write a story based on a prompt or you could have each child write a chapter for a collaborative effort. You can save favorites in case you want to revisit a prompt at a later time.

Quiz Me tests your child’s knowledge of parts of a sentence. Your child is asked to tap the nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions and conjunctions in a sentence. New levels are unlocked as your child progresses through the game.

You can choose from different themes, including sports, monsters, fairy tales, animals and starter. Tapping an unfamiliar word reveals the definition so this app can increase your children’s vocabulary as well as their writing skills.

Here’s how it works:

Shake-A-Phrase is designed for children ages 8+ and is available for $1.99 for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch in the iTunes App Store.

=> To Discover Geography, Color, and Social Skills Apps, Continue to Page 2

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Harleena Singh
Twitter:
December 17, 2012 at 8:45 am

Awesome indeed Carolyn!

I just love the way you compile such apps and tech stuff for all of us, which makes it so much easier for everyone and saves us the time to look around online for them. :-)

I’ve never used any of these when my kids were young, and even now when they are in their teens I need to monitor the amount of cell phone usage so that they concentrate more on their studies instead. However, I wish these were around when they were younger because such apps make learning much easier for younger kids – especially the Maths part of it! :-)

Thanks so much for sharing these with all of us – I would certainly be sharing this with my friends because many of them have young kid’s and would love to use these apps. :-)
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 17, 2012 at 11:09 am

Hi Harleena, Yes, I wish they had these apps available when I was a kid! But at least they have them now so that this generation of children can learn while they play. Kids are drawn to apps so they may as well be using educational apps!
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Sapna December 17, 2012 at 8:51 am

Hi Carolyn

Marble maths and shake a phrase appears to be great apps, not used those yet. But surely will try once I have the tab.

Thanks
Sapna

Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

Hi Sapna, Yes, those are great apps, each teaches a different skill in a fun way! I hope you enjoy the apps, Sapna.
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Mayura
Twitter:
December 17, 2012 at 10:38 am

Hi Carolyn,

Nice list of applications and can be really helpful for kiddies :-) I have few cousins in my mind where I can send this one.

Oops… Some still not landed on Android, no? :-) You remember I’ve told some friends switching to Android, they might need these. I just did a quick search for Splash Math. But couldn’t find. I’ll go again :-)

I like “Are You My Friend?” app and “Real Friends vs the Other Kind”. Geography one too, but I need one beyond US ;-) That must be very fun and addictive. Let me know if you have one suites to me (I’m under 8 ;)) . And I’ll do search too…

Ah… I need to tell you that Flight Update app was found helpful by 2 friends :-) I’ve sent your link rightaway. Thanks for great info. See, we can help each other ;-)

Cheers…
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 17, 2012 at 11:14 am

Hi Mayura, I’m so glad your friends were helped by Flight Update. It’s a very useful app for travelers and I’m sure they appreciated you sharing that information with them, as I appreciate you sharing as well, Mayura! (*)

Yes, most of these apps are iOS only, but if the app developers know there is interest for these apps coming to Android, they may accommodate your wishes!

So far, Geography Drive is USA only, but I could see possibilities for future apps all over the world! Thanks for suggesting that, Mayura. :-)
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JONG December 18, 2012 at 2:31 am

As a parent to be (soon), I am utmost worried about what type of contents on the digital media should my children be using in the future and I am so happy that Apple products especially the iOS apps have something for every level of consumer.

These are great list Carolyn!

Currently we use iPad to play children music to our 7 month baby. :-)

Cheers

Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 18, 2012 at 8:38 am

Hi Jong, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! Congratulations on your pending arrival! You’re right, it’s difficult to know what apps are suitable for children, but I think the best apps for kids are the ones that teach while they entertain. I like to cover educational apps for kids here because those are the apps that kids will benefit from the most.
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Jeo December 18, 2012 at 5:37 am

The apps described in this article are quite helpful to kids and they can help to sharpen the analytical ability of kids.The maths puzzle apps are really interesting and they can produce a sense of interest in kids towards mathematics subject.I think that most of the kids find boring because they are not guided properly.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 18, 2012 at 8:41 am

Hi Joe, I’m so glad you like these apps. You’re right, kids who didn’t like math before may become engaged in the subject due to these apps. That would be very useful for a child not only in learning but in having an attitude adjustment about math!
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Missy December 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I am amazed at how my nephew and niece who are 5 and 4 respectively are so adept with tech, such as the iPhone and iPad. The nephew loves to play games on it, and even video. But am sure on the iPad, instructional games or apps as you mention above are also fun for them.

Thanks for sharing the smart (and fun) apps above.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 18, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Hi Missy, You’re right, the iPhone and iPad are very intuitive to use so kids have no trouble figuring out how these devices work. I’m sure your niece and nephew enjoy their games and videos and I bet they would enjoy these apps too!
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Missy December 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm

The nephew especially loves his iPad, although at 5 I think he’s just a tad too young to have one. Lol.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm

You’re right, Missy. Perhaps an iPad Mini would be more appropriate? ;-)
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Bill Dorman
Twitter:
December 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm

What if I want to be entertained; can I play too?
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 18, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Good news, Bill! You can play too. I confess to spending more time than I really needed to in testing Blendamaze. ;-)
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Brian D. Meeks December 19, 2012 at 12:50 am

I don’t have kids, but I whole heartily approve of any apps that teach math. Math is our friend. :-)
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Hi Brian, Yes, that’s my brother’s motto: Math is our friend. My motto is “tech is your friend,” though often tech certainly seems to act like an enemy.
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Geoff Talbot December 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm

These Apps are great Carolyn,

It would be interesting to know a little about the research around “how much time” on these apps is healthy and unhealthy AND when can children start playing with mobile devices and computers etc.

I know my one year old son is absolutely addicted to my phone… (Is this healthy for his development) and unfortunately he also loves dropping things onto our hardwood floor.

Suggestions or advice people?

Geoff
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Hi Geoff, Well, the first thing I would advise you is to get a sturdy case for your phone. Your son won’t enjoy it so much if the screen is shattered. Check out Otterbox cases for a sturdy shell.

You may want to take a look at this Mashable article about this very topic. http://mashable.com/2012/07/14/too-much-screen-time/ No matter what limits you put on your children, their time is probably better spent with apps that educate rather than any other apps.
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Geoff Talbot December 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Unfortunately it is too late for my phone… :-) And to be fair it was not my son who broke it, it was the wall that ran into it.

Definitely, will check out that article, I think it is all about balance and also remembering the great outdoors as well as the virtual world.

You Rock

Geoff
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

That’s definitely a problem with your wall then, Geoff. We see it all the time, though mostly with floors attacking phones rather than walls attacking them. ;-)

Thank you for your kind words!
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Mariya December 24, 2012 at 1:00 am

Hey Carolyn, nice apps! My kid is not so good in math which bothers me a lot. He is in 2nd grade and I really want him to score well because I believe this is the most interesting and scoring subject. He is always busy with games in his iPhone. I think I should rather install this app and engage him doing math practice. Thanks for sharing this post. You really sorted out my problem. Please suggest some more math app if possible. Thanks!

Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Hi Marlya, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I think these apps will really help your son enjoy math more. If he’s playing on your iPhone anyway, he might not even realize that he’s learning. Thanks for letting me know this was helpful. I enjoy writing about quality apps for kids as these apps can really help instill a love of learning in kids.

I will definitely be covering more math apps in the future. In the meantime, please check out these Wonder of Tech articles you may find helpful:

Four Apps that Help Kids Love to Learn!

Visual Math: Making Math Fun!

Math Flash Cards + App = Fun!

Happy holidays, Marlya!
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Jens P. Berget
Twitter:
December 25, 2012 at 8:56 am

I’m going to download the math apps for my daughter. She is 9 and got an iPad for Christmas :-)
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 25, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Hi Jens, That’s wonderful! I’m sure your daughter will love her math apps and her iPad. Merry Christmas to you and your family. :-)
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Leena Dasot December 25, 2012 at 10:09 am

Hi, I am a mother and I think its really best for kids. All you put in this article is good. Thanks for shearing.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 25, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Hi Leena, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I’m a mom too so I want to share tech that is helpful to kids. These apps help kids learn while having fun so they will love to learn. I hope your children enjoy these apps!
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lokesh December 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Carolyn, Kids at home always like to play inbuilt games which is only for fun & no learning. When i think of downloading apps always worried of unwanted advertisements, virus & not finding good apps for learning.
You had listed very good learning apps which definitely would like to try & and divert them to have fun & gain knowledge by Learning.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 25, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Hi Lokesh, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! Yes, kids’ apps that have ads or in-app purchases can be frustrating for parents. I disclose this information in my reviews so parents can make their own choices.
Sometimes in-app purchases can be very useful. For example, Splash Math is free, with in-app purchases available for different skills. You may save money on this over an app that contains all the skills buy has a higher purchase price.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Lokesh!
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Thomas December 26, 2012 at 5:40 am

Nowadays learning while you play seems like a new motto for the children. It is true though that it can be the best way to educate your child especially when he or she is moody and do not enjoy studying. These apps can surely turn learning into an interesting technique to enlighten the children.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Hi Thomas, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! You’re right, kids are learning through play a lot these days because they are so much more engaged that way. I wish we had these apps when we were kids!
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Amit December 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm

These games are really entertaining and knowledgeable. You can add Word Drop+ and Pocket Geometry in you list. Thanks for thinking out of the box.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr December 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Hi Amit, Thanks for letting us know abut Word Drop+ and Pocket Geometry, both free Android apps. I love word puzzle games so I am looking forward to trying Word Drop+!
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