Just like adults, it can be easy for kiddos to get sucked into passively watching videos on iPad or TV. But what about more engaging digital experiences that encourage creative and fun learning? Follow along for a look at some of the best apps for young kids.
Balancing kids’ screen time can be challenging. As the parent of a four-year-old, I know how addicting YouTube Kids and other similar passively-watched videos can be. There’s certainly a lot of great video content like that available, but I think it’s important to make an effort to keep things balanced.
For my wife and I, finding engaging, fun apps that naturally encourage creativity and learning with game-like qualities has been super helpful.
Your milage may vary, but I think the apps below will be great for kids in the 2-10 range.
Table of contents
Best apps for young kids
LEGO Duplo World
We recently discovered this app and our four-year-old loves it! It combines so many great learning experiences into one app.
- You’ve got the creative and exploratory nature of LEGO but in digital form that can help with fine-motor skills
- Collaborative aspects
- Sorting and numbers, reasoning, and problem-solving
- Imaginary play as well as real-world skills like practicing when to cross streets, how to wash hands, and much more
- Made for 2-5 year olds (but may be fun for kids older than that)
LEGO Duplo World is a little pricier than some apps out there, but in our experience, it’s totally worth it. It’s a free download to try out and you can unlock parts or all of the app starting from $5.
LEGO Building Instructions
Speaking of LEGO, if you haven’t checked out the LEGO Building Instructions app, it’s a really neat experience.
- For many of the newer LEGO sets, the app features 3D instructions that are a lot of fun. My son has a blast doing free-play with LEGO, but the 3D instructions are also great when there’s something specific he wants to build.
- The 3D nature is really helpful for spatial reasoning skills.
- You can use the 3D instructions even if you didn’t buy a specific set and want to use with the Lego you already have (note: not all instructions are available in 3D)
LEGO Building Instruction is a free download from the App Store.
If you’re looking for a fun way to help your young child learn the alphabet/phonics, read, and write, Duolingo ABC is a phenomenal app.
- Designed by literacy and early-education experts to develop children’s skills in phonics, sight words, reading comprehension, more.
- Works offline
- Free app and ad-free!
You can get Duolingo ABC for iPhone and iPad for free on the App Store.
This has become a go-to for many parents, teachers, and libraries with a massive 10,000+ educational and interactive activities in over 850 lessons.
- Focus areas: reading, math, science, art and colors, music
- Designed for kids ages 2-8
- 4.5-star average rating on almost 500,000 reviews
- Can use the app and the web
- Free for 30 days to see if you like it
You can download ABCmouse for free from the App Store and start a 30-day trial.
If you want to introduce your kids to coding, Apple’s Swift Playgrounds is a great place to start.
- Totally free
- Designed with an “interactive puzzle” approach
- Apple mentions ages 12+ but kids younger than that may enjoy it as well
Here’s how Apple describes Swift Playgrounds:
Swift Playgrounds is a revolutionary app that makes it fun to learn and experiment with code. You solve interactive puzzles in the guided “Learn to Code” lessons to master the basics of coding, or experiment with a wide range of challenges that let you explore many unique coding experiences.
Swift Playgrounds is free download from the App Store.
This is a really fun app for curious kids. BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. feature animated short videos that do a great job explaining various concepts across science, reading, math, social studies, art and tech, and more.
- Great app to explore and find answers to questions
- Humorous and fun characters
- Includes movies, quizzes, and other educational activities
BrainPOP Jr. and BrainPOP are free downloads from the App Store with in-app purchases to unlock all the content.
If you’re ready to invest a bit more money than the apps above and think your kids would enjoy a sort of augmented reality approach, Osmo is a really neat experience.
- Variety of sets available with focuses on math, phonics/reading, drawing, creativity, communication, spacial reasoning, coding, and more
- Options for kids ages 3-10+
- Highly rated: most Osmo kits have 4.7-star average rating or higher on Amazon
Read more about Osmo in our reviews here:
- Osmo releases new Math Wizard series to assist with at-home learning on iPad
- Review: Osmo for iPad is a fun game system for kids that mixes digital apps with real world objects
- Apple @ Work Podcast: Deep learning with Osmo
Additional great apps to check out for your young kiddo include:
- PBS KIDS Games – free
- Curios World – free with in-app purchases
- Quickmath Jr. – free with in-app purchases
Best apps for young kids wrap-up
Among all of the options above ranging from totally free to Osmo, hopefully you’ve found something new to try out to encourage some intentional screen time focused on fun learning with your kid.
Do you have a favorite app for creativity and learning that we didn’t cover? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.