Best First Kids' Apps

Essential Apps for Kids and Teens

Starter Kits for iPad, iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire

So you just got a new smartphone or tablet. Now what? If you're wondering what apps to load it with, we've got you covered. Whether you've got an iPad, iPhone, Android phone or tablet, or a Kindle Fire, we have a ton of great app suggestions to start your kids off right.

Just look up your device, and you'll see picks arranged by age groups.

 

Guide Details

Browse the Guide by Device and Age Group:

 

iPad ®

2to6

See top selections for

iPhone ®

2to6

See top selections for

Android® Tablet

2to6

See top selections for

Android® Phone

2to6

See top selections for

Kindle Fire ®

2to6

See top selections for

Who Made This Guide?

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and are not influenced by the creators or by our funders. When you use our buy links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. We appreciate your support.

iPad

Age 2-6

iPad ®

The iPad has turned into one of the most promising learning tools of the digital age. Maximize that potential with apps that take advantage of the iPad's ability to lead kids into a new world of discovery. Our iPad app picks create the ideal "starter kit" for your 2- to 6-year-old, offering the best of every category, from art, to learning, to social development.

 

AGE
2
LEARNING

Based on Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development, Busy Shapes mimics a real-world environment but also gives kids a safe, appropriately stimulating way to explore this digital world. A refreshing and smart use of technology, supported by research.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Beck and Bo ride a bike along a path and explore each scene, following alliterative instructions to reveal the hidden letter. The gentle voice narration gives lots of encouragement, and the graphics are impressive -- everything seems to be made from cardboard.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a fun starting point for teaching kids about common topics like bedtime and bathroom routines and going to the doctor. It's best as a shared experience, so you can help your kids relate the activities to everyday life.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Kids explore a cute turtle's fun tree-house home by playing, eating, and exploring. There are no instructions, but Toto shows kids what he wants or needs through thought bubbles. The interactions are adorable and will produce some giggles.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Combining English phonics and Spanish vocab for kids in the language-acquisition phase of development is really smart. Kids learn to read as they learn Spanish vocab, hearing a word, seeing an image or animation demonstrating it, and then pronouncing it.

AGE
4
LEARNING

Kids can learn about the joys of reading in an encouraging and nurturing environment. The app offers a wide selection of books (you'll need a subscription) as well as videos that will appeal to a wide audience.

AGE
4
LEARNING

Toca Town adapts and perhaps improves on traditional, physical play, retaining all the possibilities that come with imagination. Each part of this open-play town has lots to discover, empowering kids to explore. Play options are virtually limitless.

AGE
5
LEARNING

With this impressive use of augmented-reality technology, kids learn to identify words in their environments by scanning them off food packages and other labeled items with a device's camera; the device then teaches them the words. Fascinating to kids.

AGE
5
LEARNING

As far as kids are concerned, DragonBox is just a new type of puzzle game. But as the game progresses, kids actually learn to solve simple algebraic equations. It's so easy even kids as young as 5 can learn algebra basics in a matter of hours.

AGE
5
LEARNING

Kids will have a blast discovering all that they can build in this preschool-friendly open environment. Later they watch the characters experience their world, running on the track they created or rowing in the lake, for example. Mind-blowing fun.

AGE
6
LEARNING

Barefoot World Atlas truly puts the world in your kids' hands. This interactive 3-D reference lets kids navigate the globe, discovering animals, indigenous people, science, and even hobbies. The app makes learning exciting and relevant to kids.

AGE
6
LEARNING

Got a budding Walt Disney on your hands? Turn kids loose on Toontastic, where they can easily create their own animated films. Kids simply choose the characters and setting for each scene, drag and drop the pieces, and add dialogue as the iPad records it all.

AGE
6
LEARNING

Hosted by Swampy the Alligator -- a reptile who loves to be clean -- Where's My Water? is a physics-based game that teaches kids about gravity, problem-solving, and spatial recognition. But all kids will care about is making Swampy sparkle.

Age 7-12

iPad ®

Hey, where'd your iPad go? No doubt "borrowed" again by your kids. Did you know they could actually be learning a bit about physics as they play Angry Birds? Keep them playing, learning, and discovering with more apps like these. Our iPad app picks for kids age 7-12 include everything from academic skill builders to creative photo-editing tools to the ultimate world-building app, Minecraft.

 

AGE
6
LEARNING

Alongside Minecraft and other sandbox-style creation toys and games, Toca Builders holds its own. This open-ended app gives kids a fun, easy-to-manage way to express creativity and use technology.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This ubiquitous game is a fun, addictive puzzler based around destruction and revenge (the birds want to get back at the pigs for stealing their eggs). No mobile device is complete without it!

AGE
7
LEARNING

As the owner of an island in ecological distress, kids learn what hurts it and how to fix it. They buy trees, pick up garbage, and clean oil spills until the island is rainbow-framed; kids make the connection to our own environment's problems.

AGE
7
LEARNING

Similar to the virtual-world website, this app has 10 games, filtered chat features, and an igloo to decorate for each penguin. Kids practice critical thinking and spatial relations. Highly engaging and colorful with a well-designed online community.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This charming, physics-based puzzle game features a cute green monster named Om Nom. It requires precision and occasionally quick reflexes, yet it still has broad appeal.

AGE
7
LEARNING

There's something beautifully simple about Fruit Ninja. Gorgeously rendered fruit gets tossed, and you swat at it to slice it before it hits the ground. It's the kind of game that makes you want to keep playing, trying to surpass your previous score each time.

AGE
7
LEARNING

A silent princess leads users through a captivating world in this M.C. Escher-inspired puzzle game. By routinely ignoring gravity and physical laws, it creates a surreal dream world. It's very soothing and best suited for players who need a slower pace.

AGE
7
LEARNING

The iPad's simple drag-and-drop interface makes learning programming logic easy for elementary school-age kids. The story-based puzzles are fun and use the familiar approach of visual blocks of code or commands. Every move reinforces coding concepts.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Players land in the middle of a world that has no structures, other people, or objectives. They build a shelter and other buildings using resources they harvest. The app rewards imaginative thinking and may give kids a confidence boost as they show off the worlds they've created.

AGE
8

Monopoly for iPad does a fantastic job of translating the quintessential and classic board game into an easy, tap-controlled app game. Just as the real game does, it makes for a great family game night.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Stack the States offers kids an engaging way to learn geography details, and it’s way more fun than traditional flashcards.

AGE
8
LEARNING

This utterly addictive puzzle game borrows from Sudoku and Bejeweled. It encourages math skills as well as strategic planning to maximize playtime before running out of moves. It's easy to learn and tough to master. Kids and parents will love it.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Few mobile games are as creative, entertaining, or endearing as World of Goo. To play, you pick up gobs of goo and stretch them into structures to solve the game's puzzles. Kids are challenged to analyze each situation and think strategically as they build.

AGE
9
LEARNING

Kids longing to share photos like their parents or older siblings will enjoy this social media option. Designed with safety in mind, Kuddle offers ideas and tips to help kids make good online choices. Photos are monitored, and "likes" are anonymous.

AGE
9
LEARNING

SkyView is an excellent tool for learning about the astronomical universe, allowing kids to see what's in the sky above them. They can learn about astronomy and get tons of sky-related factoids on anything from astronauts and their missions to the distances of stars from Earth.

AGE
9
LEARNING

This immensely entertaining, endless-runner game has a lighthearted vibe. Its bright setting and happy characters give the app a fresh feel, and the easy controls make it more accessible than some other endless runners.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Imagine being able to write, record, and share your own professional-quality music wherever you are with a few taps of a screen. GarageBand is a mobile workstation for multitrack recording. Its multitouch controls and visual interface help demystify how songs are put together and recorded.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Notability gives kids and teens a place to take and organize their notes. If they want to type their notes, they can type them. If they want to draw them, they can draw them. If they want to record audio notes, they can do that, too. It's an ideal resource for nearly any type of note taker.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Photo Editor by Aviary is a good photo-editing app for teens who've grown out of simpler apps but aren't quite ready for professional-level functionality. Tools include text, orientation, contrast, crop, frames, saturation, red-eye, and draw.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Players become protective homeowners in Plants vs. Zombies as they guard against an onslaught of freaky but humorous zombies. It's a fun, goofy exercise in strategy and planning.

AGE
11
LEARNING

Learn five languages -- Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, and French -- with this excellent game-style system. It's truly a fantastic app, with an easy-to-grasp visual map, over 64 themes, immediate and gentle feedback, mini-lesson pop-ups, and hints.

AGE
11
LEARNING

A sense of mystery, brooding music, and diverse environments engage users in this terrific, worthy sequel to one of the best puzzle games. You work through a series of brainteasers, relying on logic, experimentation, and a great hint system.

AGE
11
LEARNING

Kids can learn logical thinking, exercise their creativity, and boost their spelling skills as they brainstorm innovative solutions in this puzzle game app. Scribblenauts Remix is a welcome departure from many games' true/false, right/wrong framework.

AGE
12
LEARNING

Google Earth is an outstanding and unprecedented resource for curious explorers. Kids can learn about our amazing world through first-person data and actual satellite views of Earth.

AGE
12
LEARNING

Like its console cousin, this app is fast, furious fun -- but only for people who realize it all takes place in a world of make-believe. The game's incredible graphics and smart pacing really recreate the sensation of speed, and there's an adrenaline rush that comes with passing an opponent.

Age 13-17

 

iPad ®

For teens who've scored a coveted iPad (or are just borrowing yours), the key to maximizing the device's potential is to build a solid library of apps that are cool -- but still age-appropriate. Don't worry; we've got you covered. Our iPad app picks for teens help build the foundation they need to pursue their interests, stay in touch with friends, play games, be creative -- and more.

 

AGE
13
LEARNING

This is one of the most addicting app games out there -- which is both good and bad. It's incredibly fun and engaging, bringing a twist to the match-three genre. But the game's aggressive pushing of expensive in-app purchases and increased difficulty in later levels make it better for older teens.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Dropbox is a tool for storing, organizing, and sharing information, which then can be accessed from multiple devices. Once you start using it, you can't imagine living without it. Teens can save projects or papers and work on them at home, at school, or otherwise remotely.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This widely used productivity tool works across multiple platforms to facilitate access to lists, notes, images, sound, and links -- almost anything! -- from multiple devices. It can help kids improve their own technological savvy and learn to better organize their digital lives.

AGE
13

With privacy settings and parental oversight, Facebook can be a positive way for teens to stay connected with friends. Help your teen practice safe, responsible, and respectful online behavior.

AGE
16
LEARNING

For today's teens, it's all about capturing the moment and broadcasting it to friends. Instagram is the "it" app that makes this happen. Cool effects and a captioning tool make teens' memories come to life -- but privacy settings are critical.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This slick DIY and how-to share site is intended for adults, but, with supervision, tweens and teens can glean lots of useful information about offbeat ideas and projects. It has top-notch graphics and design, plentiful photos, and contests.

AGE
13
LEARNING

A wealth of tools for editing and publishing photos makes this a great one-stop app for visual storytelling. Learning isn't an integral part of the experience, but you can use this phone and tablet version to extend school or home activities.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Teens can make make short, fun, and entertaining videos quickly by matching up this app's automatic editor with user-generated raw footage, a background theme, and a music track.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Download this Internet radio app and unlock a world of music with infinite selection -- from calypso to alt-country. Teens can create their own stations based on favorite artists, songs, or composers. Pandora nurtures teens' interest and understanding of music.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Designed to look and seem just like picking up a notebook, Paper has a handful of powerful tools that enhance the sketching experience. It's fantastic for doodling and exploring ideas, creating beautiful illustrations, and emphasizing handwriting skills.

AGE
13
LEARNING

In this simulation game, players attempt to decimate the Earth's population by creating a constantly evolving supervirus. That's not a good goal in real life, of course, but teens will pick up some biology and social-studies concepts as they play.

AGE
16
LEARNING

What started as a quirky "microblogging" site has matured into an essential communications channel. Tweets (140-character notes) are now a chief news source for teens. They can tweet their own 140-character comments and follow others, but privacy settings are key.

AGE
13

Match and connect like-colored dots in this fun, simple puzzle game that's completely charming. The minimalist ​play style and basic concept make it a wonderful mental break. All you have to watch out for are anchors and trap door.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Teens take an active role in this intense vocab-practice app that turns learning into a game. They get points for every question answered, and the impressively adaptive challenges contain passages from high-quality publications such as the New York Times.

AGE
14
LEARNING

A good example of positive social networking, Pinterest is like a digital pinboard that people use to share, save, and categorize images and ideas for everything from crafting and tattoos to photography. Well organized and highly visually engaging.

AGE
15
LEARNING

Although it's only a fraction of the size of its high-end PC game counterparts, this app manages to capture the same array of endless features and options for which the series has become so renowned. There's plenty for teens to sink their teeth into.

iPhone

Age 2-6

iPhone ®

Take advantage of your toddlers' or preschoolers' natural curiosity -- and ability to swipe -- with a solid library of apps no 2- to 6-year-old should be without. Our picks for the iPhone cover the early-learning bases, from fine-motor skills to reading and math to social and emotional development.

 

AGE
2
LEARNING

Based on Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development, Busy Shapes mimics a real-world environment but also gives kids a safe, appropriately stimulating way to explore this digital world. A refreshing and smart use of technology, supported by research.

AGE
2
LEARNING

Peek-a-Zoo is a great first app for toddlers and preschoolers. Its cute, colorful animal characters are appealing, and its controls are easy to master. Better yet, it can help very young kids identify emotions by studying the animals' facial expressions.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Beck and Bo ride a bike along a path and explore each scene, following alliterative instructions to reveal the hidden letter. The gentle voice narration gives lots of encouragement, and the graphics are impressive -- everything seems to be made from cardboard.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Kids follow Beck and Bo, a little boy and girl, on their adventures to the beach, grocery store, park, backyard, and other places, with 12 adventure scenes in all. It's a lovely choice for toddlers who will delight in controlling what Beck and Bo do.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a fun starting point for teaching kids about common topics like bedtime and bathroom routines and going to the doctor. It's best as a shared experience, so you can help your kids relate the activities to everyday life.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Kids explore a cute turtle's fun tree-house home by playing, eating, and exploring. There are no instructions, but Toto shows kids what he wants or needs through thought bubbles. The interactions are adorable and will produce some giggles.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Combining English phonics and Spanish vocab for kids in the language-acquisition phase of development is really smart. Kids learn to read as they learn Spanish vocab, hearing a word, seeing an image or animation demonstrating it, and then pronouncing it.

AGE
4
LEARNING

LetterSchool does a great job teaching letter writing with a three-step process: learn the starting points for each stroke, trace the letter, and write the letter without hints. It features cool and highly imaginative animations.

AGE
4
LEARNING

Toca Town adapts and perhaps improves on traditional, physical play, retaining all the possibilities that come with imagination. Each part of this open-play town has lots to discover, empowering kids to explore. Play options are virtually limitless.

AGE
5
LEARNING

With this impressive use of augmented-reality technology, kids learn to identify words in their environments by scanning them off food packages and other labeled items with a device's camera; the device then teaches them the words. Fascinating to kids.

AGE
5
LEARNING

Nearly any of the Bugs and Buttons 2 mini-games could stand alone as an independent activity, but in this app you get 18 fun and educational games that are well worth the price. It's an engaging and well-rounded preschool-age learning tool.

AGE
5
LEARNING

As far as kids are concerned, DragonBox is just a new type of puzzle game. But as the game progresses, kids actually learn to solve simple algebraic equations. It's so easy even kids as young as 5 can learn algebra basics in a matter of hours.

AGE
5
LEARNING

Kids will have a blast discovering all that they can build in this preschool-friendly open environment. Later they watch the characters experience their world, running on the track they created or rowing in the lake, for example. Mind-blowing fun.

AGE
6
LEARNING

Barefoot World Atlas truly puts the world in your kids' hands. This interactive 3-D reference lets kids navigate the globe, discovering animals, indigenous people, science, and even hobbies. The app makes learning exciting and relevant to kids.

AGE
6
LEARNING

Hosted by Swampy the Alligator -- a reptile who loves to be clean -- Where's My Water? is a physics-based game that teaches kids about gravity, problem-solving, and spatial recognition. But all kids will care about is making Swampy sparkle.

Age 7-12

iPhone ®

A likely reason your kid is constantly asking to use your iPhone? Apps. So it pays to download wisely. Our picks -- many of which are free -- include the highest-rated iPhone apps for 7- to 12-year-olds that create a foundation for learning, playing, creativity, and just plain fun.

 

AGE
6
LEARNING

Alongside Minecraft and other sandbox-style creation toys and games, Toca Builders holds its own. This open-ended app gives kids a fun, easy-to-manage way to express creativity and use technology.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This ubiquitous game is a fun, addictive puzzler based around destruction and revenge (the birds want to get back at the pigs for stealing their eggs). No mobile device is complete without it!

AGE
7
LEARNING

As the owner of an island in ecological distress, kids learn what hurts it and how to fix it. They buy trees, pick up garbage, and clean oil spills until the island is rainbow-framed; kids make the connection to our own environment's problems.

AGE
7
LEARNING

Similar to the virtual-world website, this app has 10 games, filtered chat features, and an igloo to decorate for each penguin. Kids practice critical thinking and spatial relations. Highly engaging and colorful with a well-designed online community.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This charming, physics-based puzzle game features a cute green monster named Om Nom. It requires precision and occasionally quick reflexes, yet it still has broad appeal.

AGE
7
LEARNING

There's something beautifully simple about Fruit Ninja. Gorgeously rendered fruit gets tossed, and you swat at it to slice it before it hits the ground. It's the kind of game that makes you want to keep playing, trying to surpass your previous score each time.

AGE
7
LEARNING

A silent princess leads users through a captivating world in this M.C. Escher-inspired puzzle game. By routinely ignoring gravity and physical laws, it creates a surreal dream world. It's very soothing and best suited for players who need a slower pace.

AGE
7
LEARNING

The iPad's simple drag-and-drop interface makes learning programming logic easy for elementary school-age kids. The story-based puzzles are fun and use the familiar approach of visual blocks of code or commands. Every move reinforces coding concepts.

AGE
8
LEARNING

In this irresistible game, a little green alien -- aka the Doodler -- bounces up a sheet of graph paper from one platform to the next, all the while avoiding meanies. Kids tilt their devices to guide the Doodler as he jumps higher and higher, collecting power-ups and avoiding obstacles.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Players land in the middle of a world that has no structures, other people, or objectives. They build a shelter and other buildings using resources they harvest. The app rewards imaginative thinking and may give kids a confidence boost as they show off the worlds they've created.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Stack the States offers kids an engaging way to learn geography details, and it’s way more fun than traditional flashcards.

AGE
8
LEARNING

This utterly addictive puzzle game borrows from Sudoku and Bejeweled. It encourages math skills as well as strategic planning to maximize playtime before running out of moves. It's easy to learn and tough to master. Kids and parents will love it.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Few mobile games are as creative, entertaining, or endearing as World of Goo. To play, you pick up gobs of goo and stretch them into structures to solve the game's puzzles. Kids are challenged to analyze each situation and think strategically as they build.

AGE
9
LEARNING

Kids longing to share photos like their parents or older siblings will enjoy this social media option. Designed with safety in mind, Kuddle offers ideas and tips to help kids make good online choices. Photos are monitored, and "likes" are anonymous.

AGE
9
LEARNING

Marble Math makes practicing math fun for kids. While it may not seem like they're working on math as they move a marble through various mazes, kids are practicing a multitude of math and critical thinking skills in order to answer the given challenges.

AGE
9
LEARNING

This highly polished simulation game is easy to play and a delight to look at and offers hours of gameplay. Kids can learn lessons not only about history but also about resiliency and decision-making.

AGE
9
LEARNING

SkyView is an excellent tool for learning about the astronomical universe, allowing kids to see what's in the sky above them. They can learn about astronomy and get tons of sky-related factoids on anything from astronauts and their missions to the distances of stars from Earth.

AGE
9
LEARNING

This immensely entertaining, endless-runner game has a lighthearted vibe. Its bright setting and happy characters give the app a fresh feel, and the easy controls make it more accessible than some other endless runners.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Imagine being able to write, record, and share your own professional-quality music wherever you are with a few taps of a screen. GarageBand is a mobile workstation for multitrack recording. Its multitouch controls and visual interface help demystify how songs are put together and recorded.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Notability gives kids and teens a place to take and organize their notes. If they want to type their notes, they can type them. If they want to draw them, they can draw them. If they want to record audio notes, they can do that, too. It's an ideal resource for nearly any type of note taker.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Photo Editor by Aviary is a good photo-editing app for teens who've grown out of simpler apps but aren't quite ready for professional-level functionality. Tools include text, orientation, contrast, crop, frames, saturation, red-eye, and draw.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Players become protective homeowners in Plants vs. Zombies as they guard against an onslaught of freaky but humorous zombies. It's a fun, goofy exercise in strategy and planning.

AGE
11
LEARNING

Learn five languages -- Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, and French -- with this excellent game-style system. It's truly a fantastic app, with an easy-to-grasp visual map, over 64 themes, immediate and gentle feedback, mini-lesson pop-ups, and hints.

AGE
11
LEARNING

A sense of mystery, brooding music, and diverse environments engage users in this terrific, worthy sequel to one of the best puzzle games. You work through a series of brainteasers, relying on logic, experimentation, and a great hint system.

AGE
11
LEARNING

Kids can learn logical thinking, exercise their creativity, and boost their spelling skills as they brainstorm innovative solutions in this puzzle game app. Scribblenauts Remix is a welcome departure from many games' true/false, right/wrong framework.

AGE
12
LEARNING

Google Earth is an outstanding and unprecedented resource for curious explorers. Kids can learn about our amazing world through first-person data and actual satellite views of Earth.

AGE
12
LEARNING

Like its console cousin, this app is fast, furious fun -- but only for people who realize it all takes place in a world of make-believe. The game's incredible graphics and smart pacing really recreate the sensation of speed, and there's an adrenaline rush that comes with passing an opponent.

Age 13-17

 

iPhone ®

Whether your teen has an iPhone or is still begging to borrow yours, make sure it's stocked with a solid library of apps. Our picks include the very best iPhone apps designed to help your teens pursue their interests, stay in touch with friends, play games, create, and practice algebra.

 

AGE
10
LEARNING

Teens can get turn-by-turn directions for driving, walking, taking public transit, and bicycling as they learn to navigate the world through satellite-based views. Data such as distance, scale, travel time, and even traffic conditions will empower them to make informed decisions.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This is one of the most addicting app games out there -- which is both good and bad. It's incredibly fun and engaging, bringing a twist to the match-three genre. But the game's aggressive pushing of expensive in-app purchases and increased difficulty in later levels make it better for older teens.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Dropbox is a tool for storing, organizing, and sharing information, which then can be accessed from multiple devices. Once you start using it, you can't imagine living without it. Teens can save projects or papers and work on them at home, at school, or otherwise remotely.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This widely used productivity tool works across multiple platforms to facilitate access to lists, notes, images, sound, and links -- almost anything! -- from multiple devices. It can help kids improve their own technological savvy and learn to better organize their digital lives.

AGE
13

With privacy settings and parental oversight, Facebook can be a positive way for teens to stay connected with friends. Help your teen practice safe, responsible, and respectful online behavior.

AGE
16
LEARNING

For today's teens, it's all about capturing the moment and broadcasting it to friends. Instagram is the "it" app that makes this happen. Cool effects and a captioning tool make teens' memories come to life -- but privacy settings are critical.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This slick DIY and how-to share site is intended for adults, but, with supervision, tweens and teens can glean lots of useful information about offbeat ideas and projects. It has top-notch graphics and design, plentiful photos, and contests.

AGE
13
LEARNING

A wealth of tools for editing and publishing photos makes this a great one-stop app for visual storytelling. Learning isn't an integral part of the experience, but you can use this phone and tablet version to extend school or home activities.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Teens can make make short, fun, and entertaining videos quickly by matching up this app's automatic editor with user-generated raw footage, a background theme, and a music track.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Download this Internet radio app and unlock a world of music with infinite selection -- from calypso to alt-country. Teens can create their own stations based on favorite artists, songs, or composers. Pandora nurtures teens' interest and understanding of music.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Designed to look and seem just like picking up a notebook, Paper has a handful of powerful tools that enhance the sketching experience. It's fantastic for doodling and exploring ideas, creating beautiful illustrations, and emphasizing handwriting skills.

AGE
13
LEARNING

In this simulation game, players attempt to decimate the Earth's population by creating a constantly evolving supervirus. That's not a good goal in real life, of course, but teens will pick up some biology and social-studies concepts as they play.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Can you name that tune in one note? SoundHound can -- well, almost. This remarkably accurate music-identification app can tell you the name of the song, the artist, lyrics -- just by "hearing" the song through your device's microphone. Ideal for music-loving families.

AGE
16
LEARNING

What started as a quirky "microblogging" site has matured into an essential communications channel. Tweets (140-character notes) are now a chief news source for teens. They can tweet their own 140-character comments and follow others, but privacy settings are key.

AGE
13

Match and connect like-colored dots in this fun, simple puzzle game that's completely charming. The minimalist ​play style and basic concept make it a wonderful mental break. All you have to watch out for are anchors and trap door.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Teens take an active role in this intense vocab-practice app that turns learning into a game. They get points for every question answered, and the impressively adaptive challenges contain passages from high-quality publications such as the New York Times.

AGE
14
LEARNING

A good example of positive social networking, Pinterest is like a digital pinboard that people use to share, save, and categorize images and ideas for everything from crafting and tattoos to photography. Well organized and highly visually engaging.

AGE
15
LEARNING

Although it's only a fraction of the size of its high-end PC game counterparts, this app manages to capture the same array of endless features and options for which the series has become so renowned. There's plenty for teens to sink their teeth into.

Android Tablet

Age 2-6

Android® Tablet

With the right mix of apps, you can turn your Android tablet into a genuine learning tool for your 2- to 6-year-old. Our picks create the ideal starter kit for little ones, offering the best of every category, from art to early literacy and social development.

 

AGE
3
LEARNING

Beck and Bo ride a bike along a path and explore each scene, following alliterative instructions to reveal the hidden letter. The gentle voice narration gives lots of encouragement, and the graphics are impressive -- everything seems to be made from cardboard.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a fun starting point for teaching kids about common topics like bedtime and bathroom routines and going to the doctor. It's best as a shared experience, so you can help your kids relate the activities to everyday life.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Kids explore a cute turtle's fun tree-house home by playing, eating, and exploring. There are no instructions, but Toto shows kids what he wants or needs through thought bubbles. The interactions are adorable and will produce some giggles.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Combining English phonics and Spanish vocab for kids in the language-acquisition phase of development is really smart. Kids learn to read as they learn Spanish vocab, hearing a word, seeing an image or animation demonstrating it, and then pronouncing it.

AGE
3
LEARNING

So engaging, kids may want to go "round and round" with this app over and over again! An interactive version of the children's classic song "Wheels on the Bus" lets kids virtually drive the bus, open the doors, and even make the windshield wipers go "Swish."

AGE
4

The Cat in the Hat app is a marvelous picture-book adaptation that's masterfully performed and easy to follow. The original story -- which may be Dr. Seuss' most famous -- is well presented here.

AGE
4
LEARNING

Fifteen mini-books help kids transition from recognizing letters to full-fledged reading. On each page, kids can read a sentence on their own, get help on pronunciation, and hear a sentence read aloud. This is an excellent tool for helping kids boost skills.

AGE
4
LEARNING

Toca Town adapts and perhaps improves on traditional, physical play, retaining all the possibilities that come with imagination. Each part of this open-play town has lots to discover, empowering kids to explore. Play options are virtually limitless.

AGE
5
LEARNING

With this impressive use of augmented-reality technology, kids learn to identify words in their environments by scanning them off food packages and other labeled items with a device's camera; the device then teaches them the words. Fascinating to kids.

Bugs and Buttons is a very neat set of games that has a lot to offer kids in a wide age range -- so long as they're not too squeamish about pinching a tarantula or two! The fun mini-games and puzzles provide a range of early-learning skills.

AGE
5
LEARNING

Dozens of coloring pages, backgrounds, vibrant colors, brushes, and other options make this app much more than a coloring book. Kids can create their own drawings, draw over photos, and practice letters and numbers with onscreen lined paper.

AGE
5
LEARNING

As far as kids are concerned, DragonBox is just a new type of puzzle game. But as the game progresses, kids actually learn to solve simple algebraic equations. It's so easy even kids as young as 5 can learn algebra basics in a matter of hours.

AGE
5
LEARNING

Kids will have a blast discovering all that they can build in this preschool-friendly open environment. Later they watch the characters experience their world, running on the track they created or rowing in the lake, for example. Mind-blowing fun.

AGE
6
LEARNING

Old-fashioned finger painting meets newfangled technology in this deceptively simple art app. Kids simply trace their fingers across the screen to create fireworks, stars, and endless swirls while also learning about motion and speed.

AGE
6
LEARNING

This app offers focused, fun math practice to help kids master basic skills. Colorful games and encouraging voice-over instructions make learning the fundamentals -- counting, matching, addition, and subtraction -- much more fun and engaging.

AGE
6
LEARNING

Hosted by Swampy the Alligator -- a reptile who loves to be clean -- Where's My Water? is a physics-based game that teaches kids about gravity, problem-solving, and spatial recognition. But all kids will care about is making Swampy sparkle.

Age 7-12

Android® Tablet

You know that moment when you see the light bulb go on for your kid? You can make that happen on a regular basis with a solid, well-chosen library of apps. Our Android app picks for kids age 7-12 include everything from academic skill builders to creative photo-editing tools to the ultimate world-building app, Minecraft, which rewards imaginative thinking.

 

AGE
6
LEARNING

Alongside Minecraft and other sandbox-style creation toys and games, Toca Builders holds its own. This open-ended app gives kids a fun, easy-to-manage way to express creativity and use technology.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This ubiquitous game is a fun, addictive puzzler based around destruction and revenge (the birds want to get back at the pigs for stealing their eggs). No mobile device is complete without it!

AGE
7
LEARNING

As the owner of an island in ecological distress, kids learn what hurts it and how to fix it. They buy trees, pick up garbage, and clean oil spills until the island is rainbow-framed; kids make the connection to our own environment's problems.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This charming, physics-based puzzle game features a cute green monster named Om Nom. It requires precision and occasionally quick reflexes, yet it still has broad appeal.

AGE
7
LEARNING

There's something beautifully simple about Fruit Ninja. Gorgeously rendered fruit gets tossed, and you swat at it to slice it before it hits the ground. It's the kind of game that makes you want to keep playing, trying to surpass your previous score each time.

AGE
7
LEARNING

A silent princess leads users through a captivating world in this M.C. Escher-inspired puzzle game. By routinely ignoring gravity and physical laws, it creates a surreal dream world. It's very soothing and best suited for players who need a slower pace.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This app can launch kids into outer space from the couch, the bus, or in the classroom. Jam-packed with videos, photos, live feeds, and loads of text, NASA App is an all-in-one astronomy, engineering, and future-astronaut inspiration tool.

AGE
7
LEARNING

The iPad's simple drag-and-drop interface makes learning programming logic easy for elementary school-age kids. The story-based puzzles are fun and use the familiar approach of visual blocks of code or commands. Every move reinforces coding concepts.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Players land in the middle of a world that has no structures, other people, or objectives. They build a shelter and other buildings using resources they harvest. The app rewards imaginative thinking and may give kids a confidence boost as they show off the worlds they've created.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Stack the States offers kids an engaging way to learn geography details, and it’s way more fun than traditional flashcards.

AGE
8
LEARNING

This utterly addictive puzzle game borrows from Sudoku and Bejeweled. It encourages math skills as well as strategic planning to maximize playtime before running out of moves. It's easy to learn and tough to master. Kids and parents will love it.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Few mobile games are as creative, entertaining, or endearing as World of Goo. To play, you pick up gobs of goo and stretch them into structures to solve the game's puzzles. Kids are challenged to analyze each situation and think strategically as they build.

AGE
9
LEARNING

Kids longing to share photos like their parents or older siblings will enjoy this social media option. Designed with safety in mind, Kuddle offers ideas and tips to help kids make good online choices. Photos are monitored, and "likes" are anonymous.

AGE
9
LEARNING

This immensely entertaining, endless-runner game has a lighthearted vibe. Its bright setting and happy characters give the app a fresh feel, and the easy controls make it more accessible than some other endless runners.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Paper Camera is a super hip and fun way to add effects to your photos before or after you take them. It's visually appealing in so many ways that older kids will be naturally drawn to it.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Photo Editor by Aviary is a good photo-editing app for teens who've grown out of simpler apps but aren't quite ready for professional-level functionality. Tools include text, orientation, contrast, crop, frames, saturation, red-eye, and draw.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Players become protective homeowners in Plants vs. Zombies as they guard against an onslaught of freaky but humorous zombies. It's a fun, goofy exercise in strategy and planning.

AGE
11
LEARNING

Learn five languages -- Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, and French -- with this excellent game-style system. It's truly a fantastic app, with an easy-to-grasp visual map, over 64 themes, immediate and gentle feedback, mini-lesson pop-ups, and hints.

AGE
11
LEARNING

A sense of mystery, brooding music, and diverse environments engage users in this terrific, worthy sequel to one of the best puzzle games. You work through a series of brainteasers, relying on logic, experimentation, and a great hint system.

AGE
11
LEARNING

Kids can learn logical thinking, exercise their creativity, and boost their spelling skills as they brainstorm innovative solutions in this puzzle game app. Scribblenauts Remix is a welcome departure from many games' true/false, right/wrong framework.

AGE
12
LEARNING

Google Earth is an outstanding and unprecedented resource for curious explorers. Kids can learn about our amazing world through first-person data and actual satellite views of Earth.

AGE
12
LEARNING

Putting Mobile Observatory into kids' hands is like giving them full access to an observatory and a planetarium along with a docent to guide them on their self-paced tour. The amount of information is mind-boggling, and the options for viewing and learning about the night sky are impressive.

Age 13-17

Android® Tablet

The key to maximizing your Android tablet's potential is building a solid library of apps that are cool but still age-appropriate -- and don't worry, we've got you covered. Our Android app picks for teens help them build the foundation they need to pursue their interests, stay in touch with friends, play games, be creative -- and, hopefully, get some work done with productivity tools.

 

AGE
13
LEARNING

This is one of the most addicting app games out there -- which is both good and bad. It's incredibly fun and engaging, bringing a twist to the match-three genre. But the game's aggressive pushing of expensive in-app purchases and increased difficulty in later levels make it better for older teens.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Dropbox is a tool for storing, organizing, and sharing information, which then can be accessed from multiple devices. Once you start using it, you can't imagine living without it. Teens can save projects or papers and work on them at home, at school, or otherwise remotely.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This widely used productivity tool works across multiple platforms to facilitate access to lists, notes, images, sound, and links -- almost anything! -- from multiple devices. It can help kids improve their own technological savvy and learn to better organize their digital lives.

AGE
13

With privacy settings and parental oversight, Facebook can be a positive way for teens to stay connected with friends. Help your teen practice safe, responsible, and respectful online behavior.

AGE
16
LEARNING

For today's teens, it's all about capturing the moment and broadcasting it to friends. Instagram is the "it" app that makes this happen. Cool effects and a captioning tool make teens' memories come to life -- but privacy settings are critical.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This slick DIY and how-to share site is intended for adults, but, with supervision, tweens and teens can glean lots of useful information about offbeat ideas and projects. It has top-notch graphics and design, plentiful photos, and contests.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Teens can make make short, fun, and entertaining videos quickly by matching up this app's automatic editor with user-generated raw footage, a background theme, and a music track.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Download this Internet radio app and unlock a world of music with infinite selection -- from calypso to alt-country. Teens can create their own stations based on favorite artists, songs, or composers. Pandora nurtures teens' interest and understanding of music.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This sharp and sophisticated tool has more functionality than you would ever expect of a mobile app. Teens will find a place to create beautiful photography and digital art as well as share and appreciate it with a community of like-minded artists.

AGE
13
LEARNING

In this simulation game, players attempt to decimate the Earth's population by creating a constantly evolving supervirus. That's not a good goal in real life, of course, but teens will pick up some biology and social-studies concepts as they play.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This excellent, professional-caliber tool gives teens an arsenal of tools for creating digital art. They can choose brushes and colors; draw using mirror image; move, rotate, and arrange objects; and work with layers.

AGE
16
LEARNING

What started as a quirky "microblogging" site has matured into an essential communications channel. Tweets (140-character notes) are now a chief news source for teens. They can tweet their own 140-character comments and follow others, but privacy settings are key.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Teens take an active role in this intense vocab-practice app that turns learning into a game. They get points for every question answered, and the impressively adaptive challenges contain passages from high-quality publications such as the New York Times.

AGE
14
LEARNING

A good example of positive social networking, Pinterest is like a digital pinboard that people use to share, save, and categorize images and ideas for everything from crafting and tattoos to photography. Well organized and highly visually engaging.

AGE
15
LEARNING

Although it's only a fraction of the size of its high-end PC game counterparts, this app manages to capture the same array of endless features and options for which the series has become so renowned. There's plenty for teens to sink their teeth into.

Android Phone

Age 2-6

Android® Phone

Start with a solid foundation of the highest-rated Android apps and build your very own mini-library of learning, discovery, and fun for your 2- to 6-year-old. Our picks for Android phones cover all the early-learning bases, from fine-motor skills to reading and math to social and emotional development.

 

AGE
3
LEARNING

Beck and Bo ride a bike along a path and explore each scene, following alliterative instructions to reveal the hidden letter. The gentle voice narration gives lots of encouragement, and the graphics are impressive -- everything seems to be made from cardboard.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a fun starting point for teaching kids about common topics like bedtime and bathroom routines and going to the doctor. It's best as a shared experience, so you can help your kids relate the activities to everyday life.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Kids explore a cute turtle's fun tree-house home by playing, eating, and exploring. There are no instructions, but Toto shows kids what he wants or needs through thought bubbles. The interactions are adorable and will produce some giggles.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Combining English phonics and Spanish vocab for kids in the language-acquisition phase of development is really smart. Kids learn to read as they learn Spanish vocab, hearing a word, seeing an image or animation demonstrating it, and then pronouncing it.

AGE
3
LEARNING

So engaging, kids may want to go "round and round" with this app over and over again! An interactive version of the children's classic song "Wheels on the Bus" lets kids virtually drive the bus, open the doors, and even make the windshield wipers go "Swish."

AGE
4

The Cat in the Hat app is a marvelous picture-book adaptation that's masterfully performed and easy to follow. The original story -- which may be Dr. Seuss' most famous -- is well presented here.

AGE
4
LEARNING

Fifteen mini-books help kids transition from recognizing letters to full-fledged reading. On each page, kids can read a sentence on their own, get help on pronunciation, and hear a sentence read aloud. This is an excellent tool for helping kids boost skills.

AGE
4
LEARNING

Toca Town adapts and perhaps improves on traditional, physical play, retaining all the possibilities that come with imagination. Each part of this open-play town has lots to discover, empowering kids to explore. Play options are virtually limitless.

AGE
5
LEARNING

With this impressive use of augmented-reality technology, kids learn to identify words in their environments by scanning them off food packages and other labeled items with a device's camera; the device then teaches them the words. Fascinating to kids.

Nearly any of the Bugs and Buttons mini-games could stand alone as an independent activity, but in this app you get 18 fun and educational games that are well worth the price. It's an engaging and well-rounded preschool-age learning tool.

AGE
5
LEARNING

Dozens of coloring pages, backgrounds, vibrant colors, brushes, and other options make this app much more than a coloring book. Kids can create their own drawings, draw over photos, and practice letters and numbers with onscreen lined paper.

AGE
5
LEARNING

As far as kids are concerned, DragonBox is just a new type of puzzle game. But as the game progresses, kids actually learn to solve simple algebraic equations. It's so easy even kids as young as 5 can learn algebra basics in a matter of hours.

AGE
5
LEARNING

Kids will have a blast discovering all that they can build in this preschool-friendly open environment. Later they watch the characters experience their world, running on the track they created or rowing in the lake, for example. Mind-blowing fun.

AGE
6
LEARNING

Old-fashioned finger painting meets newfangled technology in this deceptively simple art app. Kids simply trace their fingers across the screen to create fireworks, stars, and endless swirls while also learning about motion and speed.

AGE
6
LEARNING

Hosted by Swampy the Alligator -- a reptile who loves to be clean -- Where's My Water? is a physics-based game that teaches kids about gravity, problem-solving, and spatial recognition. But all kids will care about is making Swampy sparkle.

Age 7-12

Android® Phone

Personalize your Android phone with apps designed to target the specific needs and interests of your kids. Our picks include the highest-rated free and paid Android apps for 7- to 12-year-olds that create a foundation for learning, playing, creativity, and just plain fun.

 

AGE
6
LEARNING

Alongside Minecraft and other sandbox-style creation toys and games, Toca Builders holds its own. This open-ended app gives kids a fun, easy-to-manage way to express creativity and use technology.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This ubiquitous game is a fun, addictive puzzler based around destruction and revenge (the birds want to get back at the pigs for stealing their eggs). No mobile device is complete without it!

AGE
7
LEARNING

As the owner of an island in ecological distress, kids learn what hurts it and how to fix it. They buy trees, pick up garbage, and clean oil spills until the island is rainbow-framed; kids make the connection to our own environment's problems.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This charming, physics-based puzzle game features a cute green monster named Om Nom. It requires precision and occasionally quick reflexes, yet it still has broad appeal.

AGE
7
LEARNING

There's something beautifully simple about Fruit Ninja. Gorgeously rendered fruit gets tossed, and you swat at it to slice it before it hits the ground. It's the kind of game that makes you want to keep playing, trying to surpass your previous score each time.

AGE
7
LEARNING

A silent princess leads users through a captivating world in this M.C. Escher-inspired puzzle game. By routinely ignoring gravity and physical laws, it creates a surreal dream world. It's very soothing and best suited for players who need a slower pace.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This app can launch kids into outer space from the couch, the bus, or in the classroom. Jam-packed with videos, photos, live feeds, and loads of text, NASA App is an all-in-one astronomy, engineering, and future-astronaut inspiration tool.

AGE
7
LEARNING

The iPad's simple drag-and-drop interface makes learning programming logic easy for elementary school-age kids. The story-based puzzles are fun and use the familiar approach of visual blocks of code or commands. Every move reinforces coding concepts.

AGE
8
LEARNING

In this irresistible game, a little green alien -- aka the Doodler -- bounces up a sheet of graph paper from one platform to the next, all the while avoiding meanies. Kids tilt their devices to guide the Doodler as he jumps higher and higher, collecting power-ups and avoiding obstacles.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Players land in the middle of a world that has no structures, other people, or objectives. They build a shelter and other buildings using resources they harvest. The app rewards imaginative thinking and may give kids a confidence boost as they show off the worlds they've created.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Stack the States offers kids an engaging way to learn geography details, and it’s way more fun than traditional flashcards.

AGE
8
LEARNING

This utterly addictive puzzle game borrows from Sudoku and Bejeweled. It encourages math skills as well as strategic planning to maximize playtime before running out of moves. It's easy to learn and tough to master. Kids and parents will love it.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Few mobile games are as creative, entertaining, or endearing as World of Goo. To play, you pick up gobs of goo and stretch them into structures to solve the game's puzzles. Kids are challenged to analyze each situation and think strategically as they build.

AGE
9
LEARNING

Kids longing to share photos like their parents or older siblings will enjoy this social media option. Designed with safety in mind, Kuddle offers ideas and tips to help kids make good online choices. Photos are monitored, and "likes" are anonymous.

AGE
9
LEARNING

This immensely entertaining, endless-runner game has a lighthearted vibe. Its bright setting and happy characters give the app a fresh feel, and the easy controls make it more accessible than some other endless runners.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Paper Camera is a super hip and fun way to add effects to your photos before or after you take them. It's visually appealing in so many ways that older kids will be naturally drawn to it.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Photo Editor by Aviary is a good photo-editing app for teens who've grown out of simpler apps but aren't quite ready for professional-level functionality. Tools include text, orientation, contrast, crop, frames, saturation, red-eye, and draw.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Players become protective homeowners in Plants vs. Zombies as they guard against an onslaught of freaky but humorous zombies. It's a fun, goofy exercise in strategy and planning.

AGE
11
LEARNING

Learn five languages -- Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, and French -- with this excellent game-style system. It's truly a fantastic app, with an easy-to-grasp visual map, over 64 themes, immediate and gentle feedback, mini-lesson pop-ups, and hints.

AGE
11
LEARNING

A sense of mystery, brooding music, and diverse environments engage users in this terrific, worthy sequel to one of the best puzzle games. You work through a series of brainteasers, relying on logic, experimentation, and a great hint system.

AGE
12
LEARNING

Google Earth is an outstanding and unprecedented resource for curious explorers. Kids can learn about our amazing world through first-person data and actual satellite views of Earth.

Age 13-17

Android® Phone

Help your teens stock their phones with a solid library of Android apps designed to help them do what they want to do -- pursue their interests, stay in touch with friends, and play games.

 

AGE
10
LEARNING

Teens can get turn-by-turn directions for driving, walking, taking public transit, and bicycling as they learn to navigate the world through satellite-based views. Data such as distance, scale, travel time, and even traffic conditions will empower them to make informed decisions.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This is one of the most addicting app games out there -- which is both good and bad. It's incredibly fun and engaging, bringing a twist to the match-three genre. But the game's aggressive pushing of expensive in-app purchases and increased difficulty in later levels make it better for older teens.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Dropbox is a tool for storing, organizing, and sharing information, which then can be accessed from multiple devices. Once you start using it, you can't imagine living without it. Teens can save projects or papers and work on them at home, at school, or otherwise remotely.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This widely used productivity tool works across multiple platforms to facilitate access to lists, notes, images, sound, and links -- almost anything! -- from multiple devices. It can help kids improve their own technological savvy and learn to better organize their digital lives.

AGE
13

With privacy settings and parental oversight, Facebook can be a positive way for teens to stay connected with friends. Help your teen practice safe, responsible, and respectful online behavior.

AGE
16
LEARNING

For today's teens, it's all about capturing the moment and broadcasting it to friends. Instagram is the "it" app that makes this happen. Cool effects and a captioning tool make teens' memories come to life -- but privacy settings are critical.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This slick DIY and how-to share site is intended for adults, but, with supervision, tweens and teens can glean lots of useful information about offbeat ideas and projects. It has top-notch graphics and design, plentiful photos, and contests.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Download this Internet radio app and unlock a world of music with infinite selection -- from calypso to alt-country. Teens can create their own stations based on favorite artists, songs, or composers. Pandora nurtures teens' interest and understanding of music.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This sharp and sophisticated tool has more functionality than you would ever expect of a mobile app. Teens will find a place to create beautiful photography and digital art as well as share and appreciate it with a community of like-minded artists.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This excellent, professional-caliber tool gives teens an arsenal of tools for creating digital art. They can choose brushes and colors; draw using mirror image; move, rotate, and arrange objects; and work with layers.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Can you name that tune in one note? SoundHound can -- well, almost. This remarkably accurate music-identification app can tell you the name of the song, the artist, lyrics -- just by "hearing" the song through your device's microphone. Ideal for music-loving families.

AGE
16
LEARNING

What started as a quirky "microblogging" site has matured into an essential communications channel. Tweets (140-character notes) are now a chief news source for teens. They can tweet their own 140-character comments and follow others, but privacy settings are key.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Teens take an active role in this intense vocab-practice app that turns learning into a game. They get points for every question answered, and the impressively adaptive challenges contain passages from high-quality publications such as the New York Times.

AGE
14
LEARNING

A good example of positive social networking, Pinterest is like a digital pinboard that people use to share, save, and categorize images and ideas for everything from crafting and tattoos to photography. Well organized and highly visually engaging.

AGE
15
LEARNING

Although it's only a fraction of the size of its high-end PC game counterparts, this app manages to capture the same array of endless features and options for which the series has become so renowned. There's plenty for teens to sink their teeth into.

Kindle Fire

Age 2-6

Kindle Fire®

If you have a Kindle Fire, you're probably discovering what a versatile little device it is. And with Amazon's FreeTime parental controls, it's a breeze to manage your kids' usage. Add some of our app recommendations -- from math to drawing to the ABCs -- and you'll have an excellent learning library for your 2- to 6-year-old.

 

AGE
3
LEARNING

Beck and Bo ride a bike along a path and explore each scene, following alliterative instructions to reveal the hidden letter. The gentle voice narration gives lots of encouragement, and the graphics are impressive -- everything seems to be made from cardboard.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a fun starting point for teaching kids about common topics like bedtime and bathroom routines and going to the doctor. It's best as a shared experience, so you can help your kids relate the activities to everyday life.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Kids explore a cute turtle's fun tree-house home by playing, eating, and exploring. There are no instructions, but Toto shows kids what he wants or needs through thought bubbles. The interactions are adorable and will produce some giggles.

AGE
3
LEARNING

A fun phonics app for kids on the cusp of reading, ABC Phonics lays the foundation for literacy. Kids practice letter recognition by matching the letter they identify to the proper phonetic sound in a fun bubble-popping game.

AGE
3
LEARNING

Combining English phonics and Spanish vocab for kids in the language-acquisition phase of development is really smart. Kids learn to read as they learn Spanish vocab, hearing a word, seeing an image or animation demonstrating it, and then pronouncing it.

AGE
3
LEARNING

This is a good collection of short, general alphabet activities, and for fans of the TV show it's a great way to get more interactive with the characters and extend the learning.

AGE
3
LEARNING

So engaging, kids may want to go "round and round" with this app over and over again! An interactive version of the children's classic song "Wheels on the Bus" lets kids virtually drive the bus, open the doors, and even make the windshield wipers go "Swish."

AGE
4

The Cat in the Hat app is a marvelous picture-book adaptation that's masterfully performed and easy to follow. The original story -- which may be Dr. Seuss' most famous -- is well presented here.

AGE
4
LEARNING

Popular Nick Jr. characters teach kids to color and create using a variety of cool tools. Kids can draw on a blank canvas, create a collage, and apply special effects such as magic wands, swirling green leaves, and flying black bats.

AGE
4
LEARNING

Toca Town adapts and perhaps improves on traditional, physical play, retaining all the possibilities that come with imagination. Each part of this open-play town has lots to discover, empowering kids to explore. Play options are virtually limitless.

Bugs and Buttons is a very neat set of games that has a lot to offer kids in a wide age range -- so long as they're not too squeamish about pinching a tarantula or two! The fun mini-games and puzzles provide a range of early-learning skills.

AGE
5
LEARNING

Dozens of coloring pages, backgrounds, vibrant colors, brushes, and other options make this app much more than a coloring book. Kids can create their own drawings, draw over photos, and practice letters and numbers with onscreen lined paper.

AGE
5
LEARNING

Kids will have a blast discovering all that they can build in this preschool-friendly open environment. Later they watch the characters experience their world, running on the track they created or rowing in the lake, for example. Mind-blowing fun.

AGE
5
LEARNING

Kids use their imaginations to create hairstyles on Toca Hair Salon 2. As they choose which tools to use and how they want each head to look, they're learning about creative use of color, motion, and fashion in a sweet, non-trendy way.

AGE
6
LEARNING

This app offers focused, fun math practice to help kids master basic skills. Colorful games and encouraging voice-over instructions make learning the fundamentals -- counting, matching, addition, and subtraction -- much more fun and engaging.

AGE
6
LEARNING

Hosted by Swampy the Alligator -- a reptile who loves to be clean -- Where's My Water? is a physics-based game that teaches kids about gravity, problem-solving, and spatial recognition. But all kids will care about is making Swampy sparkle.

Age 7-12

Kindle Fire®

With the right apps, your Kindle Fire can become a dynamic educational tool for your 7- to 12-year-old. Our recommendations provide an ideal foundation for a fun, enriching, and entertaining learning library.

 

AGE
6
LEARNING

Alongside Minecraft and other sandbox-style creation toys and games, Toca Builders holds its own. This open-ended app gives kids a fun, easy-to-manage way to express creativity and use technology.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This ubiquitous game is a fun, addictive puzzler based around destruction and revenge (the birds want to get back at the pigs for stealing their eggs). No mobile device is complete without it!

AGE
7
LEARNING

As the owner of an island in ecological distress, kids learn what hurts it and how to fix it. They buy trees, pick up garbage, and clean oil spills until the island is rainbow-framed; kids make the connection to our own environment's problems.

AGE
7
LEARNING

This charming, physics-based puzzle game features a cute green monster named Om Nom. It requires precision and occasionally quick reflexes, yet it still has broad appeal.

AGE
7
LEARNING

There's something beautifully simple about Fruit Ninja. Gorgeously rendered fruit gets tossed, and you swat at it to slice it before it hits the ground. It's the kind of game that makes you want to keep playing, trying to surpass your previous score each time.

AGE
7
LEARNING

A silent princess leads users through a captivating world in this M.C. Escher-inspired puzzle game. By routinely ignoring gravity and physical laws, it creates a surreal dream world. It's very soothing and best suited for players who need a slower pace.

AGE
8
LEARNING

In this irresistible game, a little green alien -- aka the Doodler -- bounces up a sheet of graph paper from one platform to the next, all the while avoiding meanies. Kids tilt their devices to guide the Doodler as he jumps higher and higher, collecting power-ups and avoiding obstacles.

AGE
8
LEARNING

This fun, colorful app is ideal for kids who tend to get frustrated with puzzle games that ramp up in difficulty quickly or that have no options. It starts off quite easy, and the difficulty level increases steadily but not rapidly.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Players land in the middle of a world that has no structures, other people, or objectives. They build a shelter and other buildings using resources they harvest. The app rewards imaginative thinking and may give kids a confidence boost as they show off the worlds they've created.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Stack the States offers kids an engaging way to learn geography details, and it’s way more fun than traditional flashcards.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Tetris puts a twist on the classic puzzle game with One Touch, a control scheme optimized for mobile touchscreen devices. If kids choose one of the more challenging modes, they'll exercise thinking and reasoning skills.

AGE
8
LEARNING

Few mobile games are as creative, entertaining, or endearing as World of Goo. To play, you pick up gobs of goo and stretch them into structures to solve the game's puzzles. Kids are challenged to analyze each situation and think strategically as they build.

AGE
9
LEARNING

With the ability to customize daily content and change font size, and with simple word games and cartoon graphics for the kids, Dictionary is engaging for a wide range of ages.

AGE
9
LEARNING

This immensely entertaining, endless-runner game has a lighthearted vibe. Its bright setting and happy characters give the app a fresh feel, and the easy controls make it more accessible than some other endless runners.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Young soccer fans can learn some basics and watch how simulated pros play, and the new touch-control scheme makes playing easier. The paid upgrade is well worth the money, offering kids many game options.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Paper Camera is a super hip and fun way to add effects to your photos before or after you take them. It's visually appealing in so many ways that older kids will be naturally drawn to it.

AGE
10
LEARNING

Players become protective homeowners in Plants vs. Zombies as they guard against an onslaught of freaky but humorous zombies. It's a fun, goofy exercise in strategy and planning.

AGE
11
LEARNING

Learn five languages -- Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, and French -- with this excellent game-style system. It's truly a fantastic app, with an easy-to-grasp visual map, over 64 themes, immediate and gentle feedback, mini-lesson pop-ups, and hints.

AGE
11
LEARNING

A sense of mystery, brooding music, and diverse environments engage users in this terrific, worthy sequel to one of the best puzzle games. You work through a series of brainteasers, relying on logic, experimentation, and a great hint system.

AGE
11
LEARNING

Kids can learn logical thinking, exercise their creativity, and boost their spelling skills as they brainstorm innovative solutions in this puzzle game app. Scribblenauts Remix is a welcome departure from many games' true/false, right/wrong framework.

AGE
12
LEARNING

Putting Mobile Observatory into kids' hands is like giving them full access to an observatory and a planetarium along with a docent to guide them on their self-paced tour. The amount of information is mind-boggling, and the options for viewing and learning about the night sky are impressive.

Age 13-17

Kindle Fire®

With their books, movies, music, games, and apps all in one place, teens have the perfect excuse to carry their Kindle Fire everywhere they go. That gives you the perfect excuse to load it up with apps they'll love (and that might also teach them a thing or two). Our picks for teens aren't just educational and enriching -- they're cool, too.

 

AGE
13
LEARNING

This is one of the most addicting app games out there -- which is both good and bad. It's incredibly fun and engaging, bringing a twist to the match-three genre. But the game's aggressive pushing of expensive in-app purchases and increased difficulty in later levels make it better for older teens.

AGE
13

With privacy settings and parental oversight, Facebook can be a positive way for teens to stay connected with friends. Help your teen practice safe, responsible, and respectful online behavior.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Download this Internet radio app and unlock a world of music with infinite selection -- from calypso to alt-country. Teens can create their own stations based on favorite artists, songs, or composers. Pandora nurtures teens' interest and understanding of music.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This sharp and sophisticated tool has more functionality than you would ever expect of a mobile app. Teens will find a place to create beautiful photography and digital art as well as share and appreciate it with a community of like-minded artists.

AGE
13
LEARNING

In this simulation game, players attempt to decimate the Earth's population by creating a constantly evolving supervirus. That's not a good goal in real life, of course, but teens will pick up some biology and social-studies concepts as they play.

AGE
13
LEARNING

This excellent, professional-caliber tool gives teens an arsenal of tools for creating digital art. They can choose brushes and colors; draw using mirror image; move, rotate, and arrange objects; and work with layers.

AGE
13
LEARNING

Can you name that tune in one note? SoundHound can -- well, almost. This remarkably accurate music-identification app can tell you the name of the song, the artist, lyrics -- just by "hearing" the song through your device's microphone. Ideal for music-loving families.

AGE
16
LEARNING

What started as a quirky "microblogging" site has matured into an essential communications channel. Tweets (140-character notes) are now a chief news source for teens. They can tweet their own 140-character comments and follow others, but privacy settings are key.

AGE
14
LEARNING

A good example of positive social networking, Pinterest is like a digital pinboard that people use to share, save, and categorize images and ideas for everything from crafting and tattoos to photography. Well organized and highly visually engaging.

AGE
15
LEARNING

Although it's only a fraction of the size of its high-end PC game counterparts, this app manages to capture the same array of endless features and options for which the series has become so renowned. There's plenty for teens to sink their teeth into.

AGE
16

"Wanelo" stands for "Want, Need, Love," and one of its mottos is "All stores in one app." This is a beautifully organized, intuitive shopping tool, especially for teens who are naturally attuned to using social media as a way to get recommendations for lifestyle and purchasing choices.​