50 Best Apps for Kids in 2013

Finally, 2014 is upon us. To celebrate the New Year, we’ve looked back at some of the most innovative educational apps for kids released throughout 2013. Did your favorite apps make the list? Find out below!

Note: This list only includes apps that were released in 2013.

Best Apps for One-Year-Olds

BEST NUMBER APP FOR ONE-YEAR-OLDS: The Lonely Beast 123 is a silly flashcard app that teaches kids to count from 1–12

BEST NUMBER APP FOR ONE-YEAR-OLDS: The Lonely Beast 123 is a silly flashcard app that teaches kids to count from 1–12

Best Numbers App: The Lonely Beast 123
The app uses flash cards to introduce numbers from 1 to 12 and some basic counting. Each page represents an activity in the Beast’s daily routines. Highly interactive and silly, the app makes learning about numbers fun.
Best Alphabet App: Mini-U: Zoo Alphabet
An extensive app that introduces kids to 63 animals, including not so-common ones such as emu, meerkat, and viper. Every page is interactive, with some allowing kids to partake in activities such as tracing, counting, and musical play. Animated and lively, it’s an app that appeals to the young age group.
Best Bedtime Storybook: Goodnight Mo
A soothing storybook to accompany toddlers as they get ready for bed. The app follows Mo as he goes through his nightly routines such as taking a bath and brushing his teeth. Kids can tap on objects on the screen to make them yawn. The calm background music and narration help lull kids to sleep.

Best Apps for Two-Year-Olds

BEST APP TO LEARN ABOUT COLORS FOR TWO-YEAR-OLDS: Intro to Colors teaches kids about primary colors, as well as shades and gradients

BEST APP TO LEARN ABOUT COLORS FOR TWO-YEAR-OLDS: Intro to Colors teaches kids about primary colors, as well as shades and gradients

Best Counting App: Farm 123
A colorful app for teaching your little ones to count from 1-10. Worth checking out for its eye-catching 3D pop-up graphics and cute mini games. Supports multiple languages, including French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Korean.
Best Tracing/Writing App: Writing Wizard
A writing app which trains kids to write more accurately in smaller and longer forms. It features a replay mode and detailed reports to aid parents in monitoring their child’s progress. It supports multiple user profiles, and enables parents to define unlimited custom words.
Best Phonics App: Endless Alphabet
An animated app for constructing words, where each letter would make phonetic sounds in silly accents when touched. It is great for teaching complex words like contagious, juggle, and lopsided. It also provides (almost) endless updates every time you connect to the Internet.
Best Sight Words App: Endless Reader
The sequel to Endless Alphabet, the app focuses on simple sight words like go, house, and in. The animations make it easy to explain the meaning of words like funny, please, and very. More words can be unlocked via in-app purchases.
Best App to Learn about Colors: Intro to Colors, by Montessorium
Inspired by Montessori color tablets, the app uses RYB color model to teach kids about primary and secondary colors, color mixing, and shades/gradients. Supports multiple languages including French, German, Spanish, and Chinese.
Best Health/Hygiene App: Pepi Doctor
An adorable roleplaying game in which kids get to cure three cute characters of common ailments like cold and toothache, and learn a bit about hygiene and first aid in the process. Intuitive and text-free, it is suitable for young juniors.
Best App to Learn Opposites: Cricket Kids: Opposites
Offers well-designed activities to illustrate opposite adjectives like untidy-neat and visible-hidden. It can be played infinitely and interchangeably from one adjective to its opposite. Supports multiple languages including French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.
Best Nursery Rhymes App: Sago Mini Music Box
A nice combination of nursery rhymes and an explore-and-discover gameplay. In this highly interactive app, juniors are encouraged to experiment with musical instruments and tempo using up to 10 fingers. The app brings new nuances to popular rhymes Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Row Row Row Your Boat.
Best Musical Jukebox App with Original Songs for Kids: Caspar Babypants Music Time!
A great kids jukebox featuring up to 120 original songs produced professionally by musician Caspar Babypants. Each song is animated beautifully, and includes guitar chords and lyrics to sing along to. Comes with a free set of 12 songs.
Best Doodling App: Sago Mini Doodlecast
A free-play app that lets kids record stories as they doodle to show to their parents and friends. It comes with a variety of templates, plus creative prompts to help kids overcome the anxiety of a blank canvas. Supports up to 16 languages including Bahasa Indonesia and Suomi.
Best Nature Exploration App (tie): Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer
An open-ended app that lets kids explore a magical ocean filled with adorable characters. It offers more than 30 mini activities, but leaves the storytelling part to the players. Beautifully simple but with plenty of details to discover.
Best Nature Exploration App (tie): Sago Mini Forest Flyer
An open-play environment that takes kids on an adventure through the forest. Along with Robin the Bird, kids can discover silly surprises. Suitable for a young age group.
Best Jigsaw Puzzle Game: Abricot Game - Puzzle
Probably the only jigsaw puzzle app you’ll ever need, Abricot Game - Puzzle features beautiful illustrations that tell stories. It also allows you to convert your own photos into jigsaw puzzles. The gameplay is simple and suitable for young kids.
BEST FAIRY TALE STORYBOOK FOR THREE-YEAR-OLDS: The Great Sasquatch is the second tale in the Bramble Berry Tales series, which shines light on the dying cultures of First Nations people

BEST FAIRY TALE STORYBOOK FOR THREE-YEAR-OLDS: The Great Sasquatch is the second tale in the Bramble Berry Tales series, which shines light on the dying cultures of First Nations people

Best Coloring App: Mickey Mouse Color & Play HD
The app uses characters and sets from the popular Mickey Mouse Clubhouse TV series. It has the most diverse set of painting tools, and features unique mode where your 2D paintings can be animated in 3D. Juniors can also focus on coloring one object at a time without worrying about going outside the lines.
Best Fairy Tale Storybook: Bramble Berry Tales - The Great Sasquatch

The second installment of Bramble Berry Tales which aim to preserve threatened languages. Adapted from a thousand-year-old fairy tale of the indigenous people of British Columbia (Canada), it teaches readers not to judge a book by its cover. Supports multiple languages including French, Spanish, and Halq’emeylem.

You should also check out the first book in the series: The Story of Kalkalih. Both of these books have great interactivity and smooth animations for an enjoyable reading experience.

Best Original Storybook: The Pirate Princess
An original pop-up storybook about a feisty princess-turned-pirate. A nicely written adventure, it has a twist ending. There are also mini games interwoven throughout the story for a fun reading experience.
Best New Storybook Series: The Adventures of Pan
The first installment of Pandora the Beribolt adventure storybooks, featuring original characters on brave adventures. It has high production value with plenty of interactive scenes, mini activities, and high quality narration and sounds. (Update: The entire series is now collected in a single app)
Best Role-Playing App: My Little Work - Garage
A fun app that lets kids role-play in a virtual garage. Features a range of mini games, eye-catching graphics, and plenty of rewards to keep players coming back. Bonus: a multiplayer racing game for up to four players on the same device. Instructions for parents are also available in Swedish.
Best App to Learn about Time: Tic Toc Time
A comprehensive app in which kids discover what makes a day, and how the sun’s movement causes shadows and affects our notion of time. They will also learn how to tell the time using both analog and digital clocks.
Best Memory Match Game: Fiete Match

An expressive memory matching game that features several unique game modes, such as counting and addition. It has an adjustable AI opponent to entertain players of all ages. Parents should definitely try playing 16 cards in hard mode against Fiete.

Note: Fiete Match is the winner of SEGA’s Gamescom 2013 Big Indie Pitch.

Best Spot-the-Differences Game: 7 Differences
A well-made game that features beautiful illustrations and challenging gameplay modes. Suitable for kids, it has no timer and punishments. It also has great replay value as each illustration comes with many variations.
Best App to Create Your Own Play: Cookie Next Door ~ Rainy Days

An interactive comic book where kids get to make up their own narration. They can record their own voices, change the pitch for different characters, and create their own plot. The recording is not limited to any language, making it accessible to all families.

If you want to know how Cookie’s adventure ends, you should check out its sequel: Cookie Next Door ~ Rainy ’Go Round.

Best App to Understand Our Uniqueness: Wee You-Things
Encouraging kids to embrace their quirks, the app proposes the term “you-thing” to refer to one’s unique traits. It also shows many excellent examples of uniqueness to help kids find theirs.
Best Toy App: Playhaus
An intuitive building game that lets kids build their own dream house. As kids move the building blocks around, they are introduced to colors and shapes. They can also learn about the names and functions of the rooms in the house.

Best Apps for Kids Ages 4-5

BEST CONSTRUCTION APP FOR AGES 4-5: Toca Builders is a terrific, Minecraft-like construction toy for juniors

BEST CONSTRUCTION APP FOR AGES 4-5: Toca Builders is a terrific, Minecraft-like construction toy for juniors

Best Cursive Writing App: Intro to Cursive, by Montessorium
While cursive writing has been abandoned by some, it is still an essential part of a complete lesson in handwriting. The app makes learning cursive writing accessible to younger juniors. It uses D’Nealian style, which is excellent to differentiate between the number 1, lowercase L, and uppercase L.
Best Spelling App: Spell with Pip
Based on the latest research from the team behind Oxford First Dictionary for kids, there are at least 3,000 words that kids commonly find hard to spell. This app attempts to help kids with those words through this fun spelling game. It also supports multiple user profiles.
Best Early Math App: Moose Math
An app that teaches counting, addition, subtraction, sorting, geometry and more. Featuring multilevel game designs where kids solve real world problems by applying algebra skills and earn rewards to build their virtual city. It complies with the Common Core State Standards, and includes a Report Card for parents.
Best Interactive Storybook: Frozen Storybook Deluxe

Adapted from the animated movie, this is a clever storybook that detects the iPad’s orientation to switch between the perspectives of the story’s two protagonists. Also includes two thematic mini games: frozen jigsaw puzzles and ice doodling.

You should also check out this other great storybook based on the animated movie Planes, Planes Storybook Deluxe. Both of these apps offer great reading experience, even after you have watched the movies.

Best Drawing App: Night Zookeeper Teleporting Torch
A unique drawing app which sends kids wacky daily missions and challenges to invoke their imagination. More than 60 missions are available, and parents can join in on the fun by registering for a free account to send custom missions and receive their child’s drawings.
Best Space Exploration App: Jetpack Journeys: Astronaut Trainer
A great activity app that lets juniors learn about the Sun, Earth, planets, asteroids, and other facts of our solar system through fun mini games. Accessible to younger kids, it also includes a narrator.
Best Hidden Object Game: Abricot Games - Hide and Seek
A charming hidden object game featuring beautiful hand-drawn illustrations. Every illustration hides hundreds of tiny characters, so finding the hidden objects can be challenging. Silly and simple, it can be enjoyed by both kids and adults.
Best Contraption Game: Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe
This app combines contraption puzzles from existing Pettson’s apps and introduces 6 completely new ones. It has multitouch support for a head-to-head VS mode with a split screen and a cooperative play mode. A must-have for contraption fans.
Best Construction App: Toca Builders
A well-designed, Minecraft-like construction toy with intuitive controls. It has no rules, no penalty, and no time limit. A creative sandbox, it is easy to spend countless hours building constructions in the app.
Best App to Learn Mandarin (Chinese): Kids Learn Mandarin
While not the definitive way to learn Mandarin Chinese, this app offers a fun gateway into learning 240 everyday words. Through plenty of mini games and hands-on calligraphy section, juniors and adults can learn how to speak and write simple Mandarin words.

Best Apps for Kids Ages 6-7

BEST SCIENCE APP FOR AGES 6-7: Toca Lab lets kids experiment with the periodic table of elements

BEST SCIENCE APP FOR AGES 6-7: Toca Lab lets kids experiment with the periodic table of elements

Best Montessori Math App: Montessori Math: Add & Subtract Large Numbers

Using the Montessori approach, this app teaches essential addition and subtraction concepts such as carry-over and borrowing. It also provides an endless stream of exercises automatically adjusted to the player’s skills. Supports multiple user profiles.

If your juniors still need to learn basic math, you should try the prequel app: Montessori Math 1st Operations. If you want to get a sneak peek of the exercises in the app, you can try Montessori Math Challenge instead.

Best English Listening and Speaking App: Learn English with Pili Pop

An app to help ESL kids with their speaking skills. It has an excellent and forgiving speech recognition engine that can recognize accents. Kids also get to learn about unique cultures around the world and new vocabularies. Designed for ESL juniors ages 6+, native speakers ages 3+ can also enjoy the app.

To get an idea of what the app is like, you can try the free Pili Pop Christmas app.

Best App to Create Stop Motion Animations: Easy Studio
An intuitive app for creating stop motion animations using only geometric shapes. It has all the features to make a moving masterpiece without the complicated settings. Best of all, it takes up very little storage space on your iPad. Great for little artists ages 6+.
Best Arithmetic App: Mystery Math Museum

A fun game that lets kids apply basic arithmetic skills to unlock doors and passages. To proceed smoothly in the game, kids must have deep understanding and good mental math skills. It is also possible to include dice and tallies to represent numerical values.

If you love this game, you should also try its prequel: Mystery Math Town. Both apps have support for multiple user accounts and customizable difficulty levels.

Best Science App: Toca Lab
A playful app that lets kids explore the periodic table of chemistry elements. They can try various lab equipments and perform experiments to unlock all 118 elements. They can also learn about the different states of matter, chain reactions, and even different characteristics of each element.
Best Cooking Game: KidECook
Using this app, juniors can prepare virtual meals by following step-by-step instructions. There are plenty of recipes, and juniors can learn about different types of ingredients, kitchen utensils, and cooking methods. Supports multiple languages including French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.

Best Apps for Kids Ages 8-10

BEST BUSINESS SIMULATION GAME FOR AGES 8-10: Motion Math: Pizza! lets kids practice mental arithmetics while running their own pizza business

BEST BUSINESS SIMULATION GAME FOR AGES 8-10: Motion Math: Pizza! lets kids practice mental arithmetics while running their own pizza business

Best Contraption Game: Rube Works
Featuring original contraptions from Rube Goldberg’s collection, the app turns 2D illustrated contraptions into 3D animated gameplay. It has an excellent hint system that forces you to use logic to figure out where to place each element. It also has a flexible open-ended system that allows more than one way to solve each puzzle.
Best Business Simulation Game: Motion Math: Pizza!
A reminiscent of the 90’s simulation game Pizza Tycoon, the app hones one’s mental math skills and business sense. It gradually increases in difficulty, and punishes players for bad decisions. A great tool to learn about entrepreneurship.
Best Interactive Novel: Jörgits
An original graphic novel which raises awareness of environmental and social issues through a group of aliens who seeks warmth on Earth. It is filled with interactive illustrations, original soundtracks, unique characters, and a thought-provoking plot. Perfect for independent readers ages 9+.

Best Apps for Kids Ages 11-13

BEST APP TO LEARN REFLECTION AND ROTATION FOR AGES 11-13: Symmetry School is an excellent learning tool to learn about reflectional and rotational symmetry

BEST APP TO LEARN REFLECTION AND ROTATION FOR AGES 11-13: Symmetry School is an excellent learning tool to learn about reflectional and rotational symmetry

Best Geometry App: My Geometric Universe
Using virtual pencil, ruler, and compass, the app teaches kids to draw basic 2D shapes including isosceles and equilateral triangles. Kids also get to construct 3D figures from its 2D nets, and admire them in a nice 3D flyover view.
Best Mental Math App: Quick Math+

An app that trains kids’ arithmetic skills, logic, estimation skills, and memory with a series of math problems. Offering three game modes, the app challenges even the quickest of players. If you want to play an easier game, you should try Quick Math instead. Both apps let you evaluate your performance over a series of practices.

Best Family Trivia Game: Questimate! Pro
A game for the whole family, Questimate! Pro lets players estimate the answers to various questions. It offers a wealth of topics, including geometry and history, sourced from Wikipedia and OECD. A nice app to pique one’s curiosity about the world.
Best App to Learn Reflection and Rotation: Symmetry School
An app that teaches kids about symmetry, reflection, and rotation through endless rounds of challenges. Encouraging kids to learn through trial and error, it has a hint system that tells them possible steps instead of actual solutions. On the other hand, it also provides immediate visual feedback.

This list was last updated on June 17, 2014 to update app descriptions/icons and fix broken links.

 

Check out our other best app guides here. You can also receive daily educational app reviews by following us on Twitter or liking us on Facebook.