Keep your babies, toddlers and older kids entertained with the best educational apps and games for iPhone and iPad, or your Android phone or tablet.
Best apps for kids aged 1-4
Got a toddler and need to keep them entertained on long journeys? No problem. Here’s our pick of the best apps and games for younger children aged 1-4.
Best apps for kids: CBeebies Playtime Island (Free)
This wonderfully colourful app will act as a hub for all of the Beeb’s future CBeebies releases, but even at launch you can interact with four of the most popular CBeebies shows. Get hopping with Peter Rabbit in a fun endless runner, help sort out kitchen messes at the Furchester Hotel, have a great old time down at the farm with Topsy and Tim, or help raise an extinct beastie at Andy’s Prehistoric Park.
Check out our full CBeebies Playtime Island review.
Best apps for kids: Noddy Toyland Detective
Fans of the bell-hatted boy will love Noddy Toyland Detective, a simple but well-presented game for kids. Just guide Noddy’s car around Toy Town, picking up clues to solve your current case which is then presented in story form. You can also collect stickers and spray paint cans, for decorating your car.
All over town you’ll find characters from the show, including Deltoid, Fuse and of course the pirates. Tapping on these often begins fun little mini games which are perfectly suited to toddlers and young kids. For example, the pirates play a jolly version of the Noddy theme tune, which can be manipulated with simple taps.
The colourful graphics, basic gameplay and original voice talent make this a worthy spin-off of the Toyland Detective show and a solid choice to keep toddlers entertained.
Best apps for kids: CBeebies Storytime (Free)
The BBC’s second app for kids is an interactive storybook featuring six of the CBeebies roster: Old Jack’s Boat, Show Me Show Me, Something Special, Grandpa in my Pocket, Octonauts and Charlie and Lola. Children can either read through each tale themselves or with the help of a narrator, and it’s the interactive elements that really bring the stories to life.
As well as helping young ‘uns to follow the words, and encouraging them to prod and swipe the screen to further each story, the CBeebies Storytime app also tests them at the end to see what they took in. This simple multiple-choice quiz is a great incentive to pay close attention, and re-read to get a perfect score.
As you’d expect from the Beeb, the Storytime app is beautifully presented, with virtual pages to turn and bright, colourful graphics. The app is suitable for a range of ages and even special needs children are catered for, with the Something Special section.
Don’t forget to check out the CBeebies Playtime app too, which serves up a series of simple mini-games to keep younger users hooked.
Best apps for kids: Storytime Sounds (Free)
Reading your tots a bedtime story just got a lot more noisy with Notonthehighstreet’s Storytime Sounds app. You can bring tales to life with this entertaining sound board, which gives you five categories of sound effects – everything from piratey goodness to monster noises, all of it quite cute. We can see kids having a ball (and driving grandma spare) just mashing the buttons.
The Storytime Sounds app is a little limited right now, but there’s plenty of potential to expand, and it’s free. So stop complaining.
Best apps for kids: In the Night Garden (£1.99)
All aboard the Ninky Nonk!
We have no idea what that actually means, but parents of young kids who enjoy the CBeebies show, In the Night Garden, might have a clue. The In the Night Garden app (also available for Android) allows kids to interact with characters such as Igglepiggle and Makka Pakka in five simple games. And as you’d expect from the Beeb, it’s gorgeously presented with plenty of music for the young ‘uns to enjoy.
Best apps for kids: Green Eggs and Ham – Dr Seuss (£2.49, sample available for free)
It might be as old as many parents out there, but the Dr Seuss books are still classics. You can enjoy them all over again with your own kids, in digital format, thanks to the Green Eggs and Ham app for iPhone and iPad.
The app is basically an interactive book, where your kids can read along with help from the narrator. If you fancy, you can even record yourself doing the narration instead. It’s a colourful and fun way to enjoy a piece of literary history.
Best apps for kids: My Very Hungry Caterpillar (£2.99)
Based on the Hungry Caterpillar book, this colourful app allows young kids to interact with the titular character as he grows and morphs into a butterfly. There’s plenty of food to eat, toys to play with and surprises to find. A real treat for little ones.
Best apps for kids aged 5-8
If your precious bundle of joy is a bit older and already at school, there are plenty of great educational apps that you can download for them. And lots of fun games that are age appropriate, too. These are our favourite apps and games for kids aged 5-8, for iOS and Android devices.
Best apps for kids: DisneyLife (Free, £9.99 a month subscription)
The DisneyLife app is essential for any kids who adore Disney. For a small monthly fee (£9.99 at the time of writing), you can stream Disney movies as much as you like, from classics like Snow White up to the most recent CGI blockbusters.
But that’s not all! DisneyLife also offers up Disney TV shows, music, virtual books and more. You can set up six profiles on a single account and use the app on up to ten different devices, making it ideal even for big families.
Best apps for kids: Disney Animated (£5.99)
We’re not afraid to admit, even at the age of 30+, that we still love Disney here at Recombu Towers. The Disney Animated app is a brilliant companion to the Disney films, with tons of content to explore. Every major Disney motion picture is given its own page, complete with interactive hotspots – trailers, animations and so on – but it’s the behind-the-scenes extras that really make the app worthwhile. Awesome stuff.
Best apps for kids: CBBC App (Free)
Packed with video clips, full shows and even a few games, the new CBBC app is bound to keep TV tots quiet over the festive period. The live tile interface will stimulate even the most jaded of young tablet toters and there’s content from shows like The Dumping Ground, Wolfblood and Horrible Histories to browse as much as they like.
Best of all, the CBBC App is available on iOS, Android and Kindle Fire, so a huge range of devices are supported.
Best apps for kids: Marble Math Junior (£1.99)
If you want to get your kids learning on their summer break, try out this addictive maths-based game (that’s right, Americans, this should be called Marble Maths, with an S, dammit!).
Your kiddiewinks have to solve a variety of maths problems by rolling or flicking marbles about their iPhone/iPad’s screen. The marble control might seem gimmicky at first, but it adds a whole new layer of challenge and helps to keep kids interested – they won’t even realise they’ve been conned into basically doing extra homework.
Best apps for kids: Toontastic Jr – Pirates Puppet Theatre/Shrek/Kung Fu Panda (Free trial, then £1.99 to unlock each app)
If you reckon your kid could be the next John Lasseter or (God forbid) Michael Bay (just think of all that awesome cash you can sponge off them in your old age), then download these apps right now.
Toontastic Jr basically allows kids to create their own cartoons, featuring pirates, Shrek, or everyone’s favourite panda who knows kung fu, Kung Fu Panda. They can move the characters about the screen and record a voice over, then share the results with the world. Great stuff for getting creative.
Got your own recommendations for kiddie apps? Let us know in the comments below.