17 Best Apps for Kids, According to Parents and Kids Alike

Download now — keep them busy for hours!

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It can be hard to keep kids occupied sometimes, especially when school is out. That's why you typically reach for tablets, phones, or other electronic devices for your kids to play with when they're bored. But it can be difficult to figure out which apps are worth downloading (and even buying) — let alone deciding which ones are safe and kid-friendly.

That's why the GolfHr Institute tested a bunch of apps on the market and consulted our consumer panel (made up of real parents and their children!) in order to find the best ones to download. Whether your kid is in pre-school or high school, there are fun, educational, and even some free apps on this list for them, no matter what they're interested in. Grab your charger (or portable battery) and download the best apps for kids in 2019:

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1 ABCmouse.com
Best Apps for Kids- ABCmouse.com
Abc Mouse

Best Overall App for Kids

This pick is an overwhelming favorite among all of our testers. ABCmouse.com is available both as an app and a website. It uses fun storyline-based videos, quizzes, and activities — there's even a virtual map outlining your child’s learning path to keep kids engaged. Our parent testers said they loved ABCmouse.com even before we started testing the best apps for kids!

Ages: 2-8
Cost: One-month free trial, then $10/month subscription
Get it for: iOS, Android, or on the Amazon App Store

2 Epic!
Best Apps for Kids- Epic!
Epic!

Best Reading App for Kids

Epic! is an app for kids with an e-book library that contains over 35,000 children's books (and it includes a read-to-me feature for little ones who are still learning to read). One of our parent testers says it's “a great app to have when the kids want screen time, but you don't!” This app is a perfect way to take reading wherever your device goes, and it's great for families with kids of various ages.

Ages: 2-12
Cost: one-month free trial, then $8/month
Get it for: iOS or Android

3 Hungry Caterpillar Play School
Best Apps for Kids-Hungry Caterpillar Play School
Hungry Caterpillar

Best App for Kids in Pre-School

This app is perfect to help kids learn the skills they’ll need for starting school. Hungry Caterpillar Play School has five main areas of learning for kids to play in — shapes and colors, alphabet, numbers, book reading, and arts and puzzles. The app’s design has beautiful realistic and 3D details, while staying true to the bright colors and style of the beloved Eric Carle book it’s based on.

Ages: 1-5
Cost: free to download, $6/month or $50/year subscription
Get it for: iOS, Android, or on the Amazon App Store

4 Quick Math Jr.
Best Apps for Kids- Quick Math Jr.
Quick Math

Best App for Kids in Elementary School

Kids know that math can be boring, but this app transforms numbers into something more creative and interactive. Quick Math Jr. is an app for kids with 12 different math games that feature fundamental math skills and concepts. It has unique graphics and buildable characters to keep kids engaged, and all answers are handwritten or drawn on the screen so kids can also practice handwriting.

Ages: 4-8
Cost: free
Get it for: iOS

5 Stack the States 2
Best Apps for Kids- Stack the States 2
Stack the States

Best App for Kids in Middle School

Part game, part educational tool, Stack the States helps kids learn geography and general knowledge about different states through a game. Each right answer leads to winning a state to add to your stack, and the ultimate goal is stacking your states to a certain height. The app keeps itself fun and fresh by offering three other games that kids can unlock as they complete different rounds. There’s also a version for countries.


Ages:
10+
Cost:
$3
Get it for:
iOS or Android

6 Duolingo
Best Apps for Kids- Duolingo
Duolingo

Best App for Kids in High School

The Duolingo Owl (the app's mascot and icon) has been popping up as a meme all over social media in recent months, so chances are your high schooler knows what Duolingo is. Encourage them to take it one step further and download the app so they can learn a different language.

They can practice through audio, word identification, and oral exercises for over 30 languages — it's a great way for your child to keep their language-learning skills sharp over the summer. PS: Parents can use this app, too!

Ages: 10+
Cost:
free, optional ad-free Duolingo Plus is $6.99/month
Get it for:
iOS or Android

7 Toca Hair Salon 3
Best Apps for Kids- Toca Hair Salon 3
Toca Hair

Best Dress-Up App for Kids

Toca Hair Salon 3 is perfect for kids who are always wanting to play dress up or get crafty. Kids can use this app to imagine, explore, and express their creativity because they can style hair any way they want (think: cut, style, color, curl, braid, and shave) on various characters. There are no instructions, so kids are free to experiment as they want.

Ages: 3-7
Cost: $4
Get it for: iOS, Android, or on the Amazon App Store

8 Lightbot: Code Hour
Best Apps for Kids- Lightot: Code Hour
Light Bot

Best Beginner Coding App for Kids

Lightbot: Code Hour introduces kids of all ages to the basic concepts of coding and the logic that computer programmers use to write code — all without having to actually code! Instead, the app has kids get Lightbot through different pathways by using functions commonly found in code. This app is a great way to get your kid interested in coding and computer programming, without overwhelming them.

Ages: 8+
Cost: free
Get it for: iOS or Android

9 Starfall ABCs
Best Apps for Kids- Starfall ABCs
Starfall ABC

Best App for Kids Learning the Alphabet

This app gives kids a fun, animated introduction to learning letters, vowels, and words. It also includes the sign language alphabet. If you upgrade to the paid version of Starfall ABCs, you'll get some extra perks like lessons on math and social skills — but the free version is still pretty impressive!

Ages: 2-5
Cost: free, option to upgrade for $35/year
Get it for: iOS or Android

10 Brainpop Jr. Movie of the Week
Best Apps for Kids- Brainpop Jr. Movie of the Week
Brain Pop jr.

For 20 years, Brainpop has been providing kids all over the world with in-depth, yet easy to understand educational videos on everything ranging from Mozart to food allergies. Brainpop Jr. Movie of the Week is an app that gives younger kids access to these videos, plus short quizzes on them.

You’ll need a subscription to access to the full library of videos, but the free version still gets you the movie of the week, plus more free videos on internet safety, bullying, and other subjects. Brainpop also has a version for older kids too!

Ages: 6-9
Cost: free, optional subscription is $6.99/month
Get it for: iOS, Android, or on the Amazon App Store

11 Swift Playgrounds
Best Apps for Kids- Swift Playgrounds
Swift Playground

Swift Playgrounds is an app for older kids (and adults!) that was created by Apple to introduce people to the coding language that app developers across the globe use. In the app, you can learn the basics of coding language through puzzles, targeted lessons, and dynamic visuals. The app is gorgeous to look at and fun to play, but it works best on iPads.

Ages: 9+
Cost: free
Get it for: iOS

12 Nick Jr.
Best Apps for Kids- Nick Jr.
Nick Jr.

Nick Jr.’s app offers parents the chance to let their kids enjoy their favorite shows on the go — no TV required! The app has videos from all of Nick Jr.’s shows and a collection of games (both educational and not-so educational) based on Nick Jr. shows that feature your kids’ favorite characters.

To unlock some parts of the app, you'll need to enter your cable provider's information. Even without it, your kid will still be able to use the features they’ll be most excited about: full episodes and lots of games!

Ages: 2-7
Cost: free, some content requires cable provider information
Get it for: iOS, Android, or on the Amazon App Store

13 Youtube Kids
Best Apps for Kids- YouTube Kids
You Tube Kids

From toddler Instagram influencers to 8-year-old YouTube stars, so many kids are getting into social media and video nowadays. YouTube Kids is an app that screens YouTube content and only shows what’s appropriate for kids ages 2-12. However, parents remember that no algorithm is perfect — they should still make sure to set the parental controls and check their child’s watch history regularly. But still, our parent testers said they regularly use the app for their kids.

Ages: 2-12
Cost: free
Get it for: iOS or Android

14 PBS Kids Games
Best Apps for Kids- PBS Kids Games
PBS Games

The PBS Games app allows your kids access to a full collection of educational games based on PBS shows, anywhere and anytime. Games cover all types of subjects, from math to reading and much more. It’s a great companion to PBS Video, which is another free app with a library of PBS show episodes and clips.

Ages: 2-7
Cost: free
Get it for: iOS, Android, or on the Amazon App Store

15 Elmo Loves 123s
Best Apps for Kids- Elmo Loves 123s
Sesame Street

Elmo Loves 123s uses everyone's favorite character to get toddlers and young kids excited about learning their first numbers. The app uses videos, games, and drawing to help kids memorize number shapes and learn how to count. This app purposely makes it hard for kids to exit the app on their own, meaning toddlers won’t be messing around on your phone or tablet! There’s also an Elmo Loves ABCs app for learning the alphabet.

Ages: 2-5
Cost: $5
Get it for: iOS, Android, or on the Amazon App Store

16 Goodness Shapes
Best Apps for Kids- Goodness Shapes
Goodness Shapes

This app was a favorite among toddlers and preschoolers, according to our parent testers. They said their kids wanted to play Goodness Shapes multiple times a day! It's a great introduction to shapes, colors, sorting, and matching, but it's best to play this app with your toddler so you can add to the learning (and the fun!). One parent wrote, “I liked how the games were fairly intuitive for my daughter, but still required her to think things through by having to determine whether to sort by shape or by color.”

Ages: 0-4
Cost: $1
Get it for: iOS

17 Winky Think Logic Puzzles
Best Apps for Kids- Winky Think Logic Puzzles
Winky Think

Winky Think Logic Puzzles has kids move shapes and match colors in order to solve logic puzzles, which nurtures the problem-solving skills related to the basics of math. The app has 180 games with three levels of difficulty, so kids can still learn once they master a level. “As you got further into the game it became more challenging," one of our testers noted. "It helps my kids become critical thinkers and more analytical.”

Ages: 3-8
Cost: $3
Get it for: iOS

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