Shopping for a kids apps is quite a different thing than deciding which film to add to your Netflix queue, even more so when you’re loading up the iPad before that last-minute road trip. For example, you know they’ll love Tangled and to avoid Mars Needs Moms at all costs, but do you know whether they will prefer Tap Farm to Brick Breaker, or if either is age appropriate? The great thing is, many kids’ apps are free, in which case caveat emptor isn’t relevant—you can download to your heart’s content. But for those paid apps, there is more . . . parental hesitancy. So without further ado, here are 10 recommendations for iPad apps they’ll love, put through their paces by real, living children ages 2 to 13.
Apps Just For Fun (Read…Mindless)
Plants vs. Zombies$6.99
A favorite among tweens, Plants vs. Zombies is unnervingly addictive. The objective is simple, keep the brain-munching undead at bay by putting pansies and other botanical items between them and your home. This app has gotten so much buzz, it’s now available on Nintendo DS!
We know from experience that 11-year-olds love anything with the word Ninja in it, and Fruit Ninja is no exception. Your kids will play against each other to see who can get the highest score by simply slicing fruit that is hurtled into the air in half with a samurai sword, whilst trying to avoid bombs. This silly little app is not the most addictive on our list, but from a parent’s perspective, that’s not a bad thing.
We would be remiss if we didn’t include one of the most popular Apple apps in the entertainment category on our list. It’s simple: A pack of strangely cute but seriously P.O.ed birds are out for vengeance on a group of pigs that made omelettes of their offspring. They hurtle themselves, with your help, over obstacles and at variable trajectories to break through the pigs’ fortresses and exact revenge. The latest iteration is Angry Birds RIO, which is basically the same game as Angry Birds with some new characters from the movie. Everyone in our focus group loves this title, the 2-year-old and 13-year-old alike.
Learning and Creativity
Kids as young as two and as old as six will love this interactive book, which was just released last February from Nosy Crow, its first iPad app. The company hit it out of the park, combining a familiar story with interactive features (you can tap a button to make characters talk, tilt your iPad to see hidden areas, make the pigs do somersaults, and more) and unique, witty and endearing illustrations. A must-own!
ABC Flashcards are a dime a dozen on iTunes, but Interactive Alphabet takes it a step further by making every letter an interactive toy. For example, your toddler can actually play the xlyophone shown alongside the letter ‘X’. The app’s music is fun and won’t make you want to jump off a bridge, and there is even a baby mode if your tiny tot can’t figure out how to move from letter to letter just yet.
This lauded app gets points for being attractive to both kids and adults alike. Your kids will have minutes (maybe even an hour!) of fun creating their own art using crayons, markers, paint brushes, colored pencils, and even imported photos. They’ll love the different downloadable coloring books, including Farm, Sea Life, Fairy Tale, and other themes. And once they are done, you can share their masterpieces with the grandparents instantly via Facebook or e-mail.
This top education app will certainly make your kids smarter than you when it comes to US Geography. (Admit it, you don’t know where Montpelier is!) It makes learning about the country fun, and does a very thorough job with more than 700 challenge questions, tons of videos and interactive games and even sharing results via Facebook and other sites.
This one is an oldie but a goody for all ages. Yes, even adults will find themselves obsessed with creating the most beautiful fish or stockpiling those that will make them the most money. There is strategy here to figure out what fish to buy and sell to start building your fish empire. There is the sheer joy of watching your fish mature and achieve 100-percent happiness, and there is the monotony of cleaning your tanks that is somehow soothing. Even the toddlers love this game, though you might find yourself wincing when they sell your sea turtles before they fully mature. The older kids had a blast sabotaging each other’s tanks with slow-growing and low-profit fish.
Okay, we threw this one in the mix because we adults are addicted to it, but the 10- to13-year-olds in our group love it as well, making it a fine way to stay connected with your preteens and help build their vocabulary. The game, which is the very same concept as Scrabble, can be played over the course of minutes, hours, or even days. Yes, we had to throw a few challenges to keep the young’uns confidence up, which only resulted in a slew of trash-talking texts via the WWF interface — a somewhat overused feature amongst the tweens!
My First Tangrams HD$1.99
We were positively blown away by the 2-year-olds ability, at the end of our tests, to turn on the iPad, find this app and get started playing, and even complete most of the puzzles by dragging and dropping the geometrical shapes into patterns to create cute and colorful little pictures. This is a wonderful app for toddlers who easily loose “analog” puzzle pieces!
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