By Kimberly Blaker
With a massive sea of kids’ phone apps on the market, which ones best maximize kids’ media time? The following is a selection of kid-tested and parent-approved apps to help boost kids’ critical thinking skills and creativity.
Piano Kids – Music & Songs. Free for Android. Ages 3+. This top-rated app teaches kids and parents how to play musical instruments, including the piano, xylophone, and drums. It exercises children’s memory, concentration, creativity, listening skills, and motor skills.
Flow Free. Free for all platforms. Ages 8+. This color-based game offers various levels of play to sustain the interest of grade-school kids on up to adults. It improves complex thinking skills as players try to connect the dots to create pipes without crossing over another color.
Super Family Hero. Free for all platforms. Ages 4+. Kids and parents can enjoy this family game with individual levels of difficulty that make the game challenging yet fair to all players. Create custom Avatars, then use Interactive Stories to play mini-games, and attempt to defeat Dr. Excuses.
Heads Up! Free for Android. $1 Apple. Ages 6+. Based on the Heads Up! game created by Ellen DeGeneres, this family game is a blast for all ages. A player holds the phone on their head with an image facing out for the other players to see. The player’s teammate then acts out the image shown on the phone while the teammate holding it up has to guess what his teammate is acting out.
Kids Build & Crash Blocks Game. Free for all platforms. Ages 1 – 4. Toddlers and preschoolers can build tall towers with colorful blocks while learning their colors and numbers. When they’re done building, children thrill at crashing the tower. Your child can never lose in this game. The app also features fun sound effects and animations.
Lego City My City 2. Free for Android. Ages 7 – 14. With 15 mini-games in all, players go on thrilling car chases to catch thieves, blast off into space, and do underwater exploration. As players move through the game, they earn blocks and components to build vehicles and complete their missions.
Doodle Magic Joy. Free for Android. Ages 3+. This drawing app, with colors ranging from soft pastels to bright neons, offers a variety of art tools including pen, calligraphy, airbrush, crayon, pastel, sponge, eraser, and more. When doodles are complete, the art can be saved and even played back as a cartoon. This is a fun app for kids to adults.
Unblock Me Free. Free for all platforms. Ages 7+. This mental workout boasts 16,000 puzzles in all. The object of the game is to unblock the red block in as few moves as possible. Kids and adults can compete with friends and players around the world.
3/2 Chess. Free for Android. Ages 5+. Played much like standard chess for two players, this game is designed for up to three players. 3/2 Chess is a strategy game that boosts creativity and critical thinking skills.
Hoopa City 2. $3.99 for all platforms. Ages 5 – 10. Kids can build the city of their dreams with skyscraper apartments, shopping malls, and beach resorts in this 3D game app. Then they can play inside the city they’ve built, dress up their citizens, and even switch to night mode to see their city lit up.
Magic Tiles 3. Free for all platforms. Ages 7+. This massively popular piano game requires players to tap the black tiles while avoiding the white ones to generate beautiful, high-quality music. The app features additional instruments such as guitar, as well as a battle mode where kids can compete with other players around the world.
ColorMinis Kids. Free for all platforms. Ages 3+. With this color and design app, kids experiment with a variety of colors and materials, including Real 3D gloss, clay, glass, metal, and more. They can color and design anime figures, animals, robots, castles, and much more. When their design is complete, they’ll create animated gifs of their creations.
PBS Kids Video. Free all platforms. Ages 2+. Kids can watch their favorite PBS Kids shows wherever you go. This app is a fun form of educational entertainment for young children when riding in the car, waiting for appointments, and on shopping trips. In addition to thousands of videos of their favorite shows, they’ll also be introduced to the “Weekly Pick” of educational videos.
Drawing for Kids! Learning Games for Toddlers. Free for Android. Ages 2 – 5. This app is an easy way for even the youngest toddlers to learn how to draw. It includes fun sounds and animations as each drawing comes to life.