About a year ago, an iPad entered my home and changed my life. Want to learn to play chess? Play against an expert on the chess app. Want to watch a movie? No problem-check out the Netflix or PBS Kids app. Want to fly to Africa? Just check out Google Earth.
But sorting through the 140,000 apps can be overwhelming for a parent. Obviously we haven’t tested every kids app but there are around 90 currently on our iPad. My six-year-old twins and I have been extensively testing apps for almost a year now and have found these to be our favorites by far (Find my first review about Ipad apps .)
I have picked the best apps in terms of ability to hold interest, ease of use for kids ages 4-7, colorful graphics, great music and and value for the money. I also considered educational value but I didn’t emphasize it because sometimes you just need to have a little fun or even a reward for good behavior.
Here’s the top 10 rigourously kid-tested (and parent approved) apps:
Read Me Stories- After watching my son and daughter consistently pick this app to find a new talking story of the day for almost a year, this is still a favorite app of ours. The stories are short and easy for them to read along and the graphics are great. We can’t get enough of these books!
Math Girl Number Garden- When it comes to teaching math, if I can think of a way that doesn’t let kids know that they are learning, this app would be it. This app really hits the nail on the head with learning and it rewards you with different items in a garden as you progress. My daughter and son have both played this game for hours.
Pictureka- By far, our favorite family game! The music is great and it takes several sets of eyes to find all the pictures to get you to the next level. The timer drives you crazy and the music gets faster before it goes off. Lots of fun!
Stack the Countries- Lots of learning to be had here for kids and adults (unless you are a Geography expert!). I recommend playing this game with your kids. Geography facts will stump you and it is fun way to remember that the world is so much bigger than we think!
Roxie’s Doors- This app is actually a book but you would not realize it. It is like the popular “ I Spy” series but this book is actually magical.The pictures alone are amazing. My kids love opening all the doors and finding all the details in each room. The sound effects that go along are perfect.
Teach Me Kindergarten (also comes in Sight Words and First Grade)- There are four different levels mixed in to teach kids Dolch sight words, math, spelling and subtraction. They are rewarded with coins that can be used to purchase items in the “store”. We have played lots of educational apps but this one really has the right balance of learning and fun. My kids have played this for hours trying to earning more coins and didn’t even realize all the levels they progressed!
United States Puzzle Map-This is one your kids will play for fun and not realize that they are learning along the way. The music is catchy and you can play in several different languages. I catch my son playing this a lot and I have even been “caught” playing!
Moody Monster- If your kids love creating and designing, they will love this app. You can design your own monster and play several monster games. They also introduce lots of different feelings for each of the monsters. And you can’t beat the price-free!
Angry Birds Seasons- OK, how could I not mention Angry Birds. I know it is not educational but it is so fun. And you can’t resist the sounds the birds make. My son actually bought this app with his own money (after trying the free version) and we use it as a reward. Once he discovered the Mighty Eagle that can get you out of a tough level, he has really enjoyed it.
PBS Kids- This is another free app that has 1000’s of short clips from PBS kids full length shows. The list of shows are on the right making it really easy for even young kids to find their favorite. Overall just fun, educational shows that are the perfect length for a child's short attention span.
One other way to find great kids apps is on momswithapps.com. (They even have a free app in the app store) I have found many of our favorite apps this way and my kids love Free App Friday! They email a list of 4-7 apps that are either discounted or free for just that day so you have to be quick. All have been tested and are great for kids. The list is updated daily and takes all the guesswork out of app shopping! They also have a list of top 5 ways to decode an Itunes app listing that you have to check out.