Learning Apps for Kids to Keep Them Engaged

50 learning apps for kids to keep them engaged this year

Here we are, day 3958720458 of the pandemic and still trying to figure out a new normal for balancing life working from home and being with five kids that are five an under. It’s been tough to say the least. Some days are super and we get everything in – playing outside, reading/writing, arts & crafts, life skills.

Other days, the TV turns on at 7am and kids “eat” on the couch. You know, those tough days, where everyone wakes up cranky and you’ve missed your first meeting of the day. And you’ve got 66 new emails since 11pm last night when you logged off of work. Ya, those days kind of go like this:

Watch TV
Play outside/fight/tattle tale (let’s be real)
Watch TV
Quiet time with iPad
Watch TV
Oh look, more iPad

That’s the reality of two parents working with five kids that are five and under at home. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Having an amazing and organized day takes a lot of planning and some days, but some days, there is just not enough time to organize and plan.

apps for learning

It’s basically why I did some research and spent a lot of time looking for apps on the iPad and tablet that the kids could play independently while we’re on calls and LEARN. I needed apps that were engaging, educational, but not too challenging. You know, so I can feel not so bad about how much screen time they get, ha!

 

A list of favorite learning apps for kids on the iPad 

Keep in mind that some of them are paid apps (one time or monthly). I have looked each app up and have tried many many of them, but I always recommend that an adult monitor internet usage of all kids. Anyway, I tried to group them by subject and included the age group and price for each so it’s a little easier to sort through.

reading apps Reading/Writing/Phonics

Khan Academy Kids
Children can learn reading, languages, writing, math, social skills, and more. They have it available in iOs and Android. You can have multiple users on one account and adjust the age for each child so it’s convenient to monitor.
Cost: Free Age: 2+

Epic Reading
This is a complete digital library that gives kids immediate access to topics they would be interested in. They have about 40,000 books, including audiobooks that can help children learn to read. There are also quizzes for comprehension.
Cost:  Free but has In-App purchase Age:4-12

PBS Kids Games
There are over 100 games in this one app alone! There are games for puzzles, coloring, matching, etc. I love this app because it’s probably one of the few “safe spaces” on the internet for kids. And there are no ads!
Cost:  Free  Age:4+

Johnny Grammar Word Challenge
There are three levels of difficulty (easy, medium, hard) and three categories (words, grammar, and spelling). It’s a great app that helps children explore hobbies, including everything from restaurants to idioms.
Cost:  Free  Age:4+

Letter School – Learn to Write
This goes over letters, shapes, and numbers. What’s great about this is that there are over 10 (12 to be exact) languages to toggle between. There are no ads and no social media connections here so it’s pretty safe for kids.
Cost:  Free but has in-app purchases  Age:4+

Reading IQ
Okay so what I love about this app the most is that there are Lexile levels included. Lexile levels tell you the grade and reading level of the book. They have over 7,000 books to chose from, including titles from ABC Mouse.
Cost:  Free for the first month, then $7.99 a month or $49.99 a year Age:4+

Kids Academy
This app is awesome because its COPPA and FERPA compliant. There are parental controls and no ads. There are over 5000 games, videos, and quizzes. The best thing about this app is that there are printables! YES, printables!
Cost:  Free but has in-app purchases and monthly, quarterly, or yearly subscription plans  Age:4+

Starfall Learn to Read
This used to be a paid app but it’s now free and I’m super excited about it! This goes over short vowels, long vowels, and phonics/chunking (basically, blends).
Cost:  Free but has in-app purchases  Age:4+

Skybrary
There are hundreds of books and educational videos. There are lots of engaging animations that take the student or child on a field trip and an adventure! long vowels, and phonics/chunking (basically, blends). This app is designed to increase reading comprehension and fluency.
Cost:  Free but has subscription options  Age:4+

language appsForeign Language

Duolingo – Language Lessons
There are over 30 different languages to learn on this one app alone! This is a very popular app and for good reason. You can actually listen to the correct pronunciation and even take mini quizzes!
Cost:  Free but has subscription options  Age:4+

Learn Spanish by Mindsacks
This app uses puzzles and games to teach about grammar, spelling, and pronunciation in Spanish. What’s great is that it’s a good app for kids and adults alike.
Cost:  Free but has in app purchases  Age: 4+

Endless Spanish
Okay so this app belongs to a whole family of apps including Endless Reading and Math, but I don’t like the Endless Reading app so I didn’t put it on this list. The Endless Spanish app, however, is bomb. What I like most is that there are two modes: Spanish Immersion and Spanish to English Translation.
Cost:  Free but has subscription options  Age: 4+

Learn Languages with Amy
There are several appealing themes to kids and only 5 languages they are currently teaching so it’s not overwhelming to kids. This app is great because it not only teaches pronunciation, but it also teaches spelling!
Cost:  Free but has subscription options  Age: 2-7

Little Chatterbox for Kids
This app is designed to teach kids 300 key day-to-day words in other languages, including Mandarin and Hebrew! There are 4 games that use repetition to teach!
Cost:  Free but has in-app purchases  Age: 4+

 

math game appsMath

Todo Math
This goes through the basics of recognizing and counting numbers all the way to multiplication. This is a truly immersive app that has over 2000 math activities!
Cost:  Free but has subscription options  Age: 4+

Dragon Box
This app is part of a family of apps that includes Big Numbers and even Algebra! There’s the “Sandbox”, “Puzzle”, “Ladder”, and “Run” options.  It says that it’s for 4+ but there is a lot of conceptual math that requires intuitive thinkers. I would use this for 6+.
Cost:  $7.99  Age: 4+

Quick Math
What I love about this app is that it’s timed and you can track your progress! If you need a quick activity but you don’t want your kids watching unwrapping of toys on Youtube, then definitely use this game instead!
Cost:  Free but has in-app purchases  Age: 4+

Time Money and Fractions on Track
There are lots of math apps out there that help solve math equations, but there aren’t that many that work on telling time, counting money, and teaching fractions. This app is KEY; you absolutely need it.
Cost:  $4.99  Age: 4+

SplashLearn Math & Reading
This spans from PreK all the way to 5th grade! It has over 400 curriculum-aligned math skillset in game form! What kid wouldn’t love that?!
Cost:  Free but has in-app purchases  Age: 4+

Operation Math
This app is like a combination of James Bond and Carmen San Diego. It uses math drills to go on an adventure around the world. This app reviews and teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
Cost:  $2.99  Age: 4+

drawing appsColoring and Drawing

Happy Color – ColorbyNumber
This app is fun, even for adults! They have pictures beyond just fruit and shapes; there are pictures of super heroes, art, and even a color by number option!
Cost:  Free but has in-app purchases  Age: 4+

Doodoo
This app is great for the blooming artist. There are over 14 different brushes for them to experience and practice! It’s actually even fun to play tic-tac-toe on this app!

apps for adhdSensory/ADHD

Dexteria
The link above is for just one app, but the whole family of Dexteria apps (Dexteria Fine Motor Skills, Dexteria Visual-Motor Integration Skills, Dexteria Dots, and Dexteria Dots 2) is AMAZING for our sensory kids and kids on the spectrum. It says for 4+ but we have been using this with Sean (who has ASD) since he was 2 and his pincer grasp is amazing. This is a great set of apps that teach things like motor skills and math, all the while making it fun for our special kids!
Cost:  $3.99  Age: 4+

Bugs and Buttons
Our boys LOVE playing this game. They love bugs in general so it’s fun for them to try to zap them, pinch them, and trap them. There is critical thinking practice, sorting, memory, and of course hand-eye coordination. This is not just for our special kids, but for any kids that love bugs and want to learn through games.
Cost:  $2.99  Age: 3-5 or those with special needs

Priority Matrix
This is the ultimate task manager organizing tool for those that want help to focus on the important things. It’s geared to help my fellow ADHD, ASD, and Anxious folks stay focused and know what comes next. It uses the 4 quadrant method. Definitely look into it if you need help focusing and staying organized.
Cost:  Free with in-app purchases  Age: 4+

Brain Works
The Brain Works app helps your sensory kids take those necessary sensory and brain breaks. There’s activity lists, timers, and lists that you can customize to help your child. This app does require an adult to set things up. It says that its for preteens, but I honestly think it’s okay for younger kids to use with parent supervision so they can teach themselves.
Cost:  $12.99  Age: 12+

Otsimo Speech Therapy SLP
The Otsimo app is great for those kids that experience some type of speech challenges, including but not limited to Speech delay, Apraxia, Aphasia, Stuttering, Articulation Issues, Non Verbal ASD. The technology in the app is so great that it shows whether or not articulation and pronunciation has improved. And stickers – y’all can connect stickers! Now if that isn’t a reason to download an app, IDK what is!
Cost:  Free with subscription options  Age: 4+

Calm Down

Go Noodle
This app is great for music and getting the kids moving. There are lots of music videos and safe-for-kids rap songs. We love the one that counts to 100! This one is not exactly calm down but it does help kids get the wiggles out so that’s why it’s in this category.
Cost:  Free  Age:4+

Relax Meditation
I’ve had this app for ages now. It’s perfect to create that background white noise for babies, adults, and everyone in between. There are so many different sound options and noises that you can combine to see what is most calming for you.
Cost:  Free but has options for subscription plans  Age:4+

Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame
What better way to calm down that with Sesame Street friends?!
Cost:  Free  Age:4+

Headspace
This app helps you focus on meditating and getting in the right “headspace” so that you can reduce anxiety, learn to cope with emotions, and improve sleep. This is perfect for the preteens and even adults.
Cost:  Free but has options for subscription plans  Age:4+

Antistress ASMR Relaxing
This is perfect for the preteens and even adults because the “games” here are super calming. There this neat fluid effect that you can really just get lost in. Love it.
Cost:  Free but has options for subscription plans  Age:4+

Social Studies/Science

Jellies
It’s a great app that curates videos that allow children to go along adventures. There’s videos on cooking, outer space, gymnastics, and so much more!
Cost:  Free  Age:4+

Stack the States
Yo, I am not good at geography; heck, I’m still using Google Maps when I drive around my neighborhood, but this app is key because not only do I learn things, but the kids 100% are learning, too! The app is a super fun game that help elementary aged kids learn about the 50 states!
Cost:  $2.99  Age: 4+

Kids World Atlas
This is an easy-to-use app that helps you play, learn, and discover the world around you. Best thing is that even as parents, you can track the progress.
Cost:  Free with in-app purchases  Age: 4+

News-O-Matic
Think of this like a CNN for little kids except none of that negative stuff. You can select your reading level and read lots of different, interesting articles.
Cost:  Free with in-app purchases  Age: 6+

Skyview
All you have to do is point this app to the sky and let it do its magic! It helps identify galaxies, stars, constellations, planets, and satellites. There is night mode, there is augmented reality, and there is time travel. It says it’s good for kids aged 4+ but the boys love seeing it as well and they’re not 4 years old yet. Adults can totally use this, too!
Cost:  $1.99  Age: 4+

Play and Learn Science
This completely bilingual app is a great tool for you to introduce and practice STEM activities with your preschool aged kids. This asks essential questions that help kids think critically. Can’t beat that it’s free.
Cost:  Free  Age: 4+

Marco Polo Ocean
I love the entire family of Marco Polo apps available. They have one for the Ocean, Weather, Arctic, World School, and Recall. They go over vocabulary and help kids match big words about the ocean to images or what it’s like. This app is like having a personal aquarium at your finger tips. Better than having a real fish to keep alive, haha!
Cost:  Free  Age: 4+

Solar Walk
This learning app is like having a 3-d view of the solar system in your pocket. The details are so .. detailed, lol! You meet planets, comets, asteroids, satellites, etc. My kids are on a solar system kick (hello, Miles from Tomorrowland!) so this app is one for the books. I will say that it sucks to use on the phone, tbh. I’m old and I need big images.
Cost:  Free  Age: 4+

Star Walk Kids
This is a super fun game for kids that really want to learn about the stars and solar system in a fun way. You can visit planets and watch fun videos. You can even get quizzed to see how much you learn!
Cost:  Free with in-app purchases Age: 4+

Nasa
This app isn’t a game, but it basically could be. It’s such a fun experience to look at REAL pictures from space straight from NASA.
Cost:  Free  Age: 4+

DNA Play
There are no time limits for this app and thank goodness because it’s so much fun! You can do all the puzzles and make your own monster! There are over 200 BILLION possible creations!
Cost:  $2.99  Age: 4-9

Earth Viewer
Ever wondered what the Earth looked like 250 million years ago? Want to know what the climate was like in the past? This app allows you to manipulate the globe and zoom into any location. There is an extensive reference list in the app. It says that it’s for 4+ aged kids, but I will tell you right now that Serena had a lot of difficulty understanding what was going on in the app. I’d recommend this for age 10+
Cost:  Free  Age: 4+

Frog Dissection
This is really a great app for those that get really queasy with the real stuff. I mean, it’s as 3D as you can get to dissecting a real frog without really doing it.
Cost:  Free  Age: 4+

Puzzles

Tozzle
So this is great for preK students. It’s recommended for kids that are 4 years old and older, but both boys who are 3 can play this game and enjoy it. There are over 40 puzzles for them to play with, which is nice because we can do a new puzzle each time; however, it’s a limited number so you can zip through them fairly quickly.
Cost:  $3.99  Age: 4+

Edukitty
The whole lot of Edukitty apps are awesome. It supports 12 languages and has a really annoying tune that says “Cubic Frog” when it turns on but the kids love it. Great app to use for preschool age kids to do matching and learn about shapes, colors, letters, numbers, etc.
Cost:  Free but in-app purchases  Age: 4+

Winky Think Logic Puzzles
This is a great app for all age groups, including adults. They learn to reason, think critically, and improve their spatial cognition. Serena was able to play this but she did find it frustration but I do think that it would be great for kids 7+
Cost:  $2.99  Age: 4+

Crazy Gears
This is a super captivating app that teaches them different mechanisms and how to construct a machine. STEM puzzle apps for the win!
Cost:  $2.99  Age: 4+

Think Rolls
Logic, problem-solving, cause & effect, memory — all great things you learn and hone through this app. There are over 200 fun puzzles to play! There is also an easy mode for kids age 3-5.
Cost:  $3.99  Age: 3+

Highlights Hidden Picture
Think of this like the Hidden Pictures game in the Highlights magazine but now on your phone cause that is exactly what it is.
Cost:  Free with in-app purchases  Age: 3+

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox
This app is perfect for your preK kids that don’t have that long of an attention span to play a full game for 5 minutes. The games are all about 10-30 seconds each and help the kids sort through shapes, colors, sizes, letters, etc. The boys love it but the monkey makes this annoying monkey sound after every single game. It’s cringe-worthy. The things we do for our kids.
Cost:  $1.99  Age: 2-5

Word Cookies
Did you ever play that game called Anagrams when you were little? That’s basically what this is. This game is like a precursor for Scrabble. It says for ages 4+ but I’d probably start around 5 yrs old since it will help them read a little better as they sound out the words and have a basic understanding of letter recognition and letter sounds.
Cost:  Free with in-app purchases  Age: 4+

Honestly, at the end of the day, our kids are growing up in world very different from ours. Personally, I needed to accept the fact that technology is really intertwined from the moment they are here (for us, literally since my husband had to FT in the delivery). The way kids learn is changing and it’s changing fast. Knowing that and accepting that allows you to make better decisions about your child’s access and exposure to technology.

What apps do your kids like to play with and learn from?

Comments

  1. Rachel

    Love this thank you, was looking for something just like this!!! Love love love!

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