With thousands of apps available, the iPhone can keep your kids entertained for hours on end. Some of the best kids apps have an educational component that can help them learn the alphabet or count to 10, so they'll get something out of it as well. These apps are designed for kids in preschool or kindergarten, and most are perfect for entertaining bored children in a waiting room or airport.
Jacob's Shapes (US$1.99) is a cute kids app that helps children learn shapes and objects. The well-designed interface is easy to use, even for young kids, and there is plenty of variety in the 20+ puzzles. Kids are prompted to slide each item into the appropriate cut-out shape on the puzzle; once correctly placed, the app speaks the shape's name.
Mixamajig ($0.99) doesn't have an educational component, but it is an excellent app for entertaining kids -- not to mention adults -- while in the car or doctor's waiting room. The goal of the app is to create characters, named Kooks, using over 200 different body parts. The app includes everything from aliens, robots, cowboys, and more. Kids will also get a kick out of uploading their own picture and creating a Kook with their face. We evaluate Mixamajig in more depth in our full app review.
Wheels on the Bus ($0.99) is one of the most popular iPhone apps for kids. Designed for younger children in preschool or kindergarten, Wheels on the Bus is an interactive book set to the classic children's song. Children can read along with the lyrics or listen to the song in several different languages, including German, French, or Spanish. To keep things entertaining, kids can tap the screen to open the doors, make the wheels move, or even record their own singing.
There's no real educational component to the Cookie Doodle app ($0.99), but it will keep your young kids entertained for hours. The aim of the app is just like it sounds -- to create your own cookies. Choose from 21 different types of dough (including gingerbread, oatmeal, or red velvet) and then have fun rolling out your dough and cutting it into one of 137 designs. There's also 25 frostings to choose from, as well as other fun stuff like sprinkles, candy hearts, and jelly beans. With so many combinations, the Cookie Doodle app provides hours of enjoyment for young kids (it's also kind of addicting for adults too).
There's no better kids' app for learning the names of animals or the sounds they make than Peekaboo Barn ($1.99). The graphics are super cute, and the app includes written and verbal cues in both English and Spanish. Kids can tap on the screen to view a new animal, or guess the name of the animal just by hearing the sound it makes. New animals are added occasionally, and the latest update includes a mouse, chicken, and rabbit.
6. Park Math
Park Math ($1.99) is a new kids app from the developers of Wheels on the Bus, reviewed above. It introduces preschool math concepts, including basic addition and subtraction, for kids ages 1 through 6. Kids can also learn how to count to 20 (or up to 50 in level 2). The graphics and music are great -- the Park Math app includes popular nursery rhymes like "This Old Man" and "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush."
Kids Song Machine ($1.99) is a good iPhone app for entertaining your preschool-aged kids in waiting rooms or airports. Like many kids apps, Song Machine includes a number of nursery rhymes such as "Old McDonald", "I'm a Little Tea Pot", and "Row Your Boat". As the songs play, kids can follow along by tapping the screen to unveil the interactive animations displayed as submarines or hot air balloons. The animations don't really correspond to the lyrics of the nursery rhymes, but I doubt your kids will mind.
Although it's best for young kids, Preschool Adventure ($0.99) has a number of basic interactive and educational games. Kids can learn to match colors, count to 10, or learn basic shapes. There's also matching games and a game to learn about animal sounds and noises. Like most kids apps, Preschool Adventure nails it on the cuteness factor, with lots of bright, cleverly drawn characters.
Redfish 4 Kids ($9.99) is another great app for kids that features an educational component. It's pricey, however, and only available for the iPad, but the Redfish app includes more than 50 exercises that cover everything from basic counting to colors and shapes. Jigsaw puzzles are also included, in addition to an on-screen piano and other fun games. The app is designed for kids ages 2 to 7 (iPad only).
There are few ways to learn the ABCs that are as cute as Letter Writer Oceans ($0.99). This aquatic-themed app includes exercises and matching words for all letters of the alphabet. Kids can follow along with a guided animation, which they can trace to learn how to draw each letter. They can even earn rewards when they complete each letter, which helps them unlock poems and stories.