Kids love to imitate their parents. Since I am so drawn to gadgetry and technology, my kids are too. My daughter has gone so far to make “pretend” laptops out of pizza boxes and shoe boxes. It only makes sense that my children are also in love with my iPhone and iPod touch. Luckily, there is plenty of good content and many fantastic apps that my kids can easily understand and enjoy that available for my iPhone.
Not only do these kid friendly applications give kids a good lesson in technological literacy, but they also help kids stay entertained. More than once, I have been able to hand my son or daughter my iPhone so that they could keep themselves busy while I was occupied. Most of my “Top 10” iPhone apps for kids are free or inexpensive, and they all help kids busy with a positive or educational activity. For a parent, these applications are a win-win.
The Top 10 iPhone Applications for Kids
For Younger Kids:
Alphabet Animals — ages 3 and up
This application is a great interactive application that can help toddlers learn their alphabet and their animals. It is full of bright colors, funny images and animations, and entertaining interactions. Alphabet Animals has interactive flash cards with both an animal and a letter on them. The application also speaks the name of the animal and the letter with three different vocal inflections. If your child is learning their alphabet or is a budding reader, Alphabet Animals will keep them very entertained. The application is available on iTunes for $.99.
Memory Match: Child Development Edition — ages 3 and up
Memory Match is a version of the classic memory tile game, but for the iPhone or iPod touch. It helps kids build short and long term memory while helping them focus on manual dexterity. The point of the game is very simple. Kids flip tiles over to reveal a picture or a number. They try to match it to another picture or number. The game is never the same twice, so it helps to keep little ones endlessly entertained. Memory Match: Child Development Edition is available on iTunes for $1.99.
Penguin Whacker — ages 4 and up
Full disclosure: I play Penguin Whacker as much as my kids do; it is not just for little kids. It is essentially the arcade classic “Whack-a-Mole” on the iPhone with penguins. When a penguin pops up, out of his/her hole, you whack it with your finger. You are timed and get to compete against your previous scores. It can’t get more mindless or fun than that. Penguin Whacker is available on iTunes, and it is Free.
Infinite Maze — ages 4 and up
If you have ever played with one of those plastic maze party favors, then you have played with Infinite Maze. The game is simple, you maneuver a silver ball through a series of mazes by tilting the iPhone. The game is so simple that any child can play it, but it is difficult enough to keep you trying. For little kids, there is a random surprise when the ball suddenly changes into other shapes. The game is only $.99 on iTunes which is a steal for the number of levels you get.
Freshwater Aquarium — all ages
As soon as my children could see, they loved watching our fish tank. The shimmering lights, the gentle movement, and the bright colors seems to soothe children. Thanks to the Freshwater Aquarium app on the iPhone or iPod touch, the soothing nature of a fishtank is portable. Simply load the app and hand it to your child. The tank is fully interactive; your child can feed the fish, play eye-spy, and watch them grow. You can keep kids calm, and you will never have to flush one of them. Freshwater Aquarium is Free and it is available from iTunes.
For Older Kids
Reversi — ages 6 and up
If you have played the board game Othello, then you have played Reversi. Reversi on the iPhone is a great application for the older kids because it keeps them busy, entertained, and really develops problem solving and critical thinking skills. The point of the game is to place black and white tiles down on a game board and “capture” your opponent’s pieces. The winner is the person who has the most pieces in his/her color. The computer opponent can be tough, so kids will need to develop some perseverance in addition to their problem solving skills. Reversi for the iPhone or iPod touch is available on iTunes for $1.99.
Mad Libs Lite — ages 6 and up
My daughter simply loves Mad Libs; she has even taken the time to make her own custom word puzzles in the Mad Lib style to entertain her friends. The fantastic thing about the Mad Lib app is that the stories can be customized and reused over and over again. When my kids are playing with the Mad Libs application, they are actually playing and exploring language. Their writing abilities and problem solving skills are being stretched to the limits and they laugh hysterically while they are doing it. I enjoy the Mad Libs application for road trips because after a story is created, it can be shared with the entire family. The Lite version is free from iTunes. The full version, which I also recommend because of the expanded story choices is also available.
WordSearch Kids — ages 6 and up
Another vocabulary and writing puzzler that will keep kids occupied is WordSearch Kids. WordSearch kids has hundreds of word searches with child friendly themes and rich vocabulary words. Highlighting words is very easy; all students need to do is touch the first letter and the last letter of a word and the word is “circled”. Progress on a puzzle can be saved which makes WordSearch Kids the perfect casual word game for families on the run. WordSarch Kids is $.99 on iTunes.
Brain Toot — ages 8 and up
Brain Toot is the perfect game for fans of the Brain Age and Big Brain Academy games for the Nintendo DS. Brain Toot for the iPhone contains 16 brain training puzzles and games that help kids (and adults) sharpen their thinking skills and problem solving ability. The games revolve around math problems, visual puzzles, and thinking puzzles. This game can be challenging, so it might be best for older kids or even young teens. Brain Toot is $.99 and is available on iTunes.
Math Drills Lite — ages 6 and up
Math Drills Lite is not the most exciting or playful app, but for a parent or a child that really enjoys math, it is a blessing. Math Drills Lite is a fully customizable math drill game that has a very calculator-like UI. The math problems are fully customizable and you can use it to focus on a set of math concepts that a child might have problems with. The Lite version is free, but the full version costs $1.99 and is well worth it. The full blown app will track the progress of 10 users and adapt automatically to focus on your child’s math weaknesses. Math Drills Lite is available on iTunes.