Trusting a toddler with your tablet or phone can be a risky business – we’ve seen several screens smashed by over-excited infants – but it's worth letting them play with it anyway, because Android can make an excellent tutor, entertainer and even an occasional babysitter. Just invest in a good case first. Here are some of our favorite Android apps for kids.
Jump to app:
- ABC Spelling
- Peppa Pig’s apps
- Drawing Pad
- Baby TV Mobile
- All the Toca Boca apps
- Minecraft: Pocket Edition
- Dr Seuss’s books
ABC Spelling is a fun app that can help children to learn to spell. It is structured in a way that starts out very easy, so it is good for young learners but scales well. Pictures are on hand to help children and the interaction with the app is fun thanks to fill-in-the-blank-style mechanics. There are also sounds packed in to help children learn phonetics for letters to improve speaking accuracy and fluency as well. The best thing, though, is that ABC Spelling - Spell & Phonics is completely free and features no ads whatsoever.
Peppa Pig, the pre-school porcine phenomenon, is perfectly suited to mobile devices: the simple artwork and cheerful soundtracks work brilliantly as apps. There’s Peppa Pig’s Golden Boots for feeding ducks and, er, visiting the moon; interactive storybooks such as The Great Egg Hunt; stargazing with Peppa Pig Stars; and drawing with Peppa’s Paintbox. I’ve just introduced my second toddler to the joys of Peppa apps, and it almost makes me feel bad about the bacon sandwich I had for lunch.
There are lots of drawing apps in the Play Store, but Drawing Pad was there long before most. Its selection of realistic brushes, pencils, pens, and stickers make it a lot of fun, and it works well with Samsung’s S-Pen too.
If your satellite or cable broadcaster doesn’t offer Baby TV, this app is the next best thing: for $4.99 per month it provides access to more than 100 programs aimed at babies and toddlers up to the age of four. Many of the shows have been created in partnership with educational experts, and it’s all ad-free so you don’t need to worry about anything inappropriate popping up, such as ambulance-chasing lawyers and other undesirables, unlike with certain other TV channels.
If you have younger children, you’ll love Toca Boca. It's gentle, colorful apps are great for pre-schoolers and not so noisy that you’ll want to throw your device through the nearest window. Titles range from Toca Hair Studio and Toca Pet Doctor to Toca Builders, which is essentially Minecraft for five-year-olds. On the subject of which…
Minecraft is the LEGO of the 21st Century, aimed at seven-year-olds and older, and it’s different for every child who plays it. You can explore others’ worlds or build your own, create structures or craft weapons. The Pocket Edition supports multiplayer over Wi-Fi. It’s the perfect app for children, with just enough peril to be exciting but not enough to cause nightmares.
The nice people at Oceanhouse Media have brought the legendary Dr. Seuss books to life, but not too much life, so they’re not too exciting for bedtime reading. The titles are best suited to three- to five-year-olds, but we’re a good bit older than that and we loved them too. All together now: I do not like green eggs and ham! I do not like them, Sam-i-Am!
Duolingo promises “totally fun and 100 percent free” language learning. Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Swedish and English are all covered. It’s racked up countless awards and has been praised by the likes of the Wall Street Journal and TIME magazine. It’s based around very simple multiple-choice tasks and feels more like playing a game than learning. It’s great stuff.
What about you? Do you have favorite Android apps that your kids and you both love? Let us know below.