According to a Statista report, games were by far the most popular category of apps at the Apple App Store (March 2016). It had a download share of a shade under 23% (more than double of the share of business apps (10.3%) – the second-most popular category). At the Google Play Store too, games and apps for kids are hugely in demand. With education technology advancing at a rapid clip and learning processes becoming more sophisticated than ever before, parents and teachers generally recommend the use of mobile educational apps/games for children – of which there are many on both the iOS and Android platforms. Here are some of the best of such apps:
- Disney Story Central – Developing a healthy reading habit is a great thing for kids, and what better to capture the attention of the little ones than the cute, timeless Disney characters? This innovatively created iPhone/iPad storytelling app for kids offers a large stack of ebooks, with several of the most popular Disney characters. A bit of gaming fun is also blended in, with the reader’s bookworm gaining trophies and rewards over time. The voice narration feature is excellent too, and the app also gives custom book recommendations.
- DragonBox Algebra 5+ – The name says it all. Available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, DragonBox Algebra is the perfect mobile learning app for kids who are terrified of mathematical equations (and there’s plenty of them!). To progress, the young learners have to balance algebraic equations – which, obviously, become more and more challenging. The best thing about this maths app is that, it helps in bolstering the critical thinking capacity of kids, apart from improving their problem-solving skills. The smooth in-app navigation further heightens the app’s attractions.
- Zoo Alphabet – How about getting your child acquainted with all the animals seen in zoos, in a fun and interactive way? This colorful picture app for kids allows you to do just that! There are a host of lovely illustrations, accompanied with fairly realistic animal sounds and nice background music. The lively animations, in particular, deserve a special mention – and there are puzzles too, which kids can solve. Zoo Alphabet helps the little ones to correctly spell the names of different animals as well.
- Fish School HD – Probably the most innovative iPad educational app for kids on this list. In the application, children can view many brightly coloured fish, all combining to teach shapes and colours and letters and even numbers to the young ones. The controls are simple and kid-friendly, and although it is a paid app ($1.99) – it is more than worth its price as a handly mobile learning tool for preschoolers.
- Story Time For Kids – Multiple prestigious app awards (Adobe Design Award, GMASA 2015, etc.) bear testimony to the sheer brilliance of this engaging mobile storytelling app for kids (available on iOS and Android). Many classic fairytales as well as original short stories are available for free in the app, while additional books can be downloaded via in-app purchase. The parental control feature ensures that there are no accidental downloads. Right from the top-notch illustrations, audio narrations and text-highlighting, to the host of games, puzzles and other activities – this mobile app has what it takes, to keep kids happily reading along!
- Kids ABC Letters – Another alphabet-learning app for children, that makes recognizing the English letters a whole lot of fun. The actual learning process takes place in two alternative ways – kids can either see and learn alphabets from their usage in words, or join puzzle pieces to trace out the shape of the letters. The ‘lite’ version of Kids ABC letters allow children to learn up to the letter ‘H’. For gaining full access to all the letters, parents have to get the complete version of the app, at $3.99.
- Habitat The Game – Instead of conventional learning, this iPhone/Android game for kids focuses more on the basic, essential life skills. An absolutely adorable polar bear has to be adopted by children using this app, and apparently tricky tasks have to be performed. The aim of the mobile app developers behind Habitat is to help kids realize the importance of things like saving water, conserving electricity, and keeping the overall environment clean. Now, parents can imbibe healthy habits in their little ones without being preachy!
- Handwriting Without Tears – A spinoff of the hugely popular handwriting game of the same name, Handwriting Without Tears allows kids learn how to write English alphabets in the easiest possible manner. The makers of this wonderful app have included a virtual board on the app, on which learners can write the letters with their virtual chalks. Every letter has to be traced thrice – and there are detailed visual and voice instructions to guide the kids along (the support decreases as kids start to make less errors while writing). Successfully completing a letter three times generates a cool letter card as reward. The built-in progress bar also allows parents to keep a tab on how much their children have learnt and whether they are facing problems with any particular letter(s).
- Dexteria Dots 2 – At first glance, this might seem like just another dots game for kids – but a closer inspection would reveal its considerable educational benefits. In this iOS app for children, every dot is a number, and kids have to work with these dots to solve questions. The animations are simplistic, and the use of vibrant colours in the app works in its favour as well. A cool app to start learning numbers!
- What’s The Sound/My First Sounds – These two apps are equally good in familiarizing young ones with everyday sounds of the world (although My First Sounds has a larger database of sounds than What’s The Sound). Different high-quality sounds of animals, transports, musical instruments, nursery rhymes, and a whole lot more are neatly categorized in these apps. Every sound is associated with the picture of the thing that generates it – helping kids relate the sounds with their sources.
- Alien Assignment – Great reviews and high user-ratings – this unique mobile problem-solving app for kids has it all, and deservedly so. The app flows in the form of a story, where children have to join up with a cute alien family and solve a series of challenging problems and adventures. The reward for this? A return to their home planet!
- Plants by Tinybop – Knowing about the wildlife and the variety of flora & fauna therein becomes easier and more fun than ever before with this beautifully designed kids’ mobile application. The app serves as an interactive game, where children can do stuff like quicken up the passage of time – and see the effect of the different seasons on the plants. The cloud shapes can be brought together to generate amazing lightning effects too. Plants by TinyBop offers extensive learning resources and great adventure fun – all rolled into one!
- Kids Tiles – Another engrossing mobile application that helps children get familiar with the shapes and pictures of a whole lot of things – right from gadgets and animals, to transports, colours and even parts of the human body. The gameplay involves the child reading the instructions on the device screen (say, ‘herbivores’ under ‘Animals’) and tapping on the correct pictures. There are three different gameplays (‘Rise’, ‘Sink’, ‘Play & Rise’), and the objective of the game is to tap correctly and prevent the pictures from reaching the other end of the screen. Learning while playing – that’s what Kids Tiles is all about.
- Thinkrolls 2 – Think that toddlers cannot understand the basics of physics? If yes, chances are that you have not yet tried the Thinkrolls 2 mobile app. The mobile app development team behind this app has made it available for both Android and iOS (along with Kindle Fire). As many as 6 separate accounts can be set up in the app, and kids can take their pick between the ‘easy’ and the ‘hard’ game settings. Simple physics-related problems are presented in the app (with delightfully designed characters), which will get the young ones thinking. Successfully solving a problem unlocks new ball characters.
- Read Me Stories – Yet another extremely user-friendly and well-stacked mobile storytelling application for kids. Just like the Story Time For Kids app (listed above), Read Me Stories also comes with useful text-highlighting and voice-narration options. Adding to the charms of this Android/iPhone reading app is the fact that one new book is added every day to it. Even if your child is not a big fan of reading, Read Me Stories will transform him/her into one.
- Balloony Word – This has to be one of the funniest and most engaging spelling and word-making mobile game going around (a smart spin-off from Hangman?). A lovely little gorilla, holding a few colourful letter balloons in hand, is seen floating on the app screen, and kids have to solve spelling challenges to prevent it from falling. The cool illustrations and sheer simplicity of the app add brownie points to it. Balloony Word is indeed a great vocabulary-enhancer for preschoolers.
‘Marble Math Junior’ and ‘Math On The Farm’ are two other well-reviewed number-learning apps for kids available in stores. If your son/daughter has a creative bent of mind, (s)he would like apps like ‘Pixie’ and ‘Colouring Pages For Kids’. Mobile educational apps are not, and nor are they supposed to be, substitutes of classroom teaching. However, apps like these can certainly give toddlers a headstart in their learning endeavours!
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