Best Apps for Three Year Olds

As father to two sons, Philip (4) and Noah (2), I get many questions from other parents about the best iPad apps for their kids. This happens so frequently that I decided to compile a list of recommended iPad apps for one-year-olds and two-year-olds.

Now, I am back with a new list written with three-year-olds in mind. Taking hints from our yearly Best Apps for Kids list, I organized this list based on each app's use case.

 BEST EARLY MATH APP: Mathlandia illustrates the concept of subtractions using an alien spaceship that beams up objects

BEST EARLY MATH APP: Mathlandia illustrates the concept of subtractions using an alien spaceship that beams up objects

Best Finger Counting App: Little Digits

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An app that teaches kids about numbers with finger counting. Kids can put their fingers on the screen and the app will show the appropriate number character. The app also includes games that introduce simple addition and subtraction calculations.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Early Math App: Mathlandia

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A cute app that offers six mini games about number recognition, ordering, counting, addition, and subtraction. Designed around the theme "aliens", one of the games shows a spaceship beaming things up and down to explain addition and subtraction. Because the paintings and objects are placed differently each time, it has great replay value.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Writing/Tracing App: Yum-Yum Letters

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Yum-Yum Letters offers a flexible gameplay that can be customized to your child’s ability and preference. You can select the order of letters and font to use, and get progress reports for each user profile. The app offers 3 unique themes and complementary mini games to reinforce learning and build motivation.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Sight Words App: Sight Words

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The Sight Word Adventure is a fun-filled game where kids can learn 320 sight words spread across five levels from Pre-K to Grade 3. The games can be customized to your child’s learning level, and there’s a parental dashboard to monitor the child’s progress.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best App to Learn about Shapes: Very Hungry Caterpillar Shapes

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A beautiful app that teaches kids about shapes, colors, patterns, and scales with over 50 puzzles in six categories. Developed with the help of experts, it's easy to use. Available in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish.

Link: App Store | Our Review

 BEST BEDTIME STORYBOOK: My Naughty Shadow helps kids get rid of their fear of the dark

BEST BEDTIME STORYBOOK: My Naughty Shadow helps kids get rid of their fear of the dark

Best Bedtime Storybook: My Naughty Shadow

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This beautiful storybook alleviates the fear of shadows by turning a shadow into a silly, playful character. Kids will have fun interacting with the illustrations while listening to the spooky narration and background music.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Storybook to Develop Listening Skills: One Giggly Gorilla

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One Giggly Gorilla is an interactive book that promotes listening skills and reading comprehension. Kids follow the instructions in the narration to catapult the gorillas up the tree. The app is beautifully illustrated, with 3D animations and cheeky dialog on every page.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Nightlight App: Moonbeeps Fireflies

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Moonbeeps: Fireflies is a gorgeous, imaginative app in which kids explore a moonlit forest, collecting colorful fireflies. Beautiful graphics and soothing background music come together to create a dreamy landscape that will captivate kids of all ages. You can use the app as a nightlight, and it will go to sleep after 15 minutes of inactivity.

Link: App Store | Our Review

 BEST TOY APP: FUZZY HOUSE COMBINES HANDMADE ELEMENTS WITH PLAYFUL INTERACTIVITY

BEST TOY APP: FUZZY HOUSE COMBINES HANDMADE ELEMENTS WITH PLAYFUL INTERACTIVITY

Best Health/Hygiene App: Toothsavers Brushing Game

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This app encourages kids to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes by brushing with fairytale characters. It includes tips and animated videos on how to brush properly, and a fun two-player game mode. Parents can track their child's progress through the built-in calendar and reminders.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Health/Hygiene App (tie): Daniel Tiger's Stop & Go Potty

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A simple app that encourages kids to stop playing when they need to go. It features fun games, music videos, and a catchy theme song. Parents can find helpful tips on potty training to apply in real life.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best App to Encourage Healthy Eating: Terri at the Market

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An interactive book about a picky eater who discovers the secret world of vegetables. It includes four mini games to develop basic skills in math and coloring. Available in English, Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Musical App (tie): Melody Jams

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Kids will love jamming together adorable monsters and making their own music in Melody Jams. Since the instruments are always in harmony, there’s no wrong way to play. The production value is excellent in this app, and both graphics and audio are quite polished.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Musical App (tie): Bubl Draw

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An immersive app where the colorful shapes that kids draw produce unique sounds. It offers 10+ musical instruments in three genres: classic, disco, and rhumba. A great app for kids of all ages.

Link: App Store | Our Review and Playing Tips

Best Toy App: Fuzzy House

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Fuzzy House combines the practicality and interactivity of a mobile app with the charm and familiarity of a traditional toy, to create a playful dollhouse for a wide range of ages. The open-ended gameplay allows kids to take control of their playtime, and encourages creative exploration.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Role-Playing App: Tiny Pirates

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Tiny Pirates presents kids with an interactive miniature of a pirate ship, complete with its crew. As kids explore each handcrafted illustration, they also discover the world of pirates and learn about cause and effect. The app has no rules, timers, or scores for an enjoyable, pressure-free gameplay.

Link: App Store | Our Review

 BEST CREATIVE PLAY APP: Labo Paper Plate lets kids create various objects using paper plates

BEST CREATIVE PLAY APP: Labo Paper Plate lets kids create various objects using paper plates

Best Creative Play App: Labo Paper Plate

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Labo Paper Plate features 12 simple craft projects that you can easily replicate at home. It shows that with a little creativity, even ordinary objects like the paper plate can become interesting toys. In addition to making crafts, the app allows children to play with their creation in fun mini games.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Drawing App: Artie's Magic Pencil

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Artie's Magic Pencil gets kids learning the fundamentals of drawing with a fun and interactive adventure story. It features colorful artwork, funny characters, and intuitive interface. Drawing worksheets are also available so kids can extend their creative time away from the screen.

Link: App Store | Our Review

 BEST NATURE EXPLORATION APP: Kids can learn about the parts of a ship as they explore and build jigsaw puzzles

BEST NATURE EXPLORATION APP: Kids can learn about the parts of a ship as they explore and build jigsaw puzzles

Best App to Learn about Time: Tic Toc Time

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In this app, kids discover what makes a day and how the sun’s movement causes shadows and affects our notion of time. They also learn how to tell the time using analog and digital clocks.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best App to Develop Spatial Reasoning: RelationShapes

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An educational game designed to help kids develop young kids' visual-spatial reasoning and creative problem-solving skills through open-ended play. It's based on the award-winning visual education method created by Y. Agam, a world-renowned pioneer of kinetic art. With eight levels of difficulty and support for up to four player profiles, this app can be shared at home or in the classroom.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best App to Understand Our Uniqueness: Wee You-Things

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This unique app encourages kids to embrace themselves, quirks and all, which it calls "you-things". It shows many excellent examples of uniqueness to help kids find theirs.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best App to Learn about Dinosaurs: Dinosaur Train A to Z

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The ultimate app for kids who love dinosaurs. It also teaches kids about the alphabets. Kids can touch and swipe to feed the dinosaurs, explore X-Ray mode, and learn 50 dinosaur facts. Available in English and Spanish.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Train Simulation Game: Comomola Farwest Train

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A train simulation game for little kids and train-lovers in general. It's simple to use so kids should have no problem figuring out what to do. Because the sceneries are randomly generated every time, the journey is never boring. Kids also get to flex their brain a bit by completing missions and performing simple tasks.

Link: App Store | Our Review

 BEST APP TO ENCOURAGE KINDNESS: TALU Town is an interactive playset in which kids help out characters in distress and earn playful rewards

BEST APP TO ENCOURAGE KINDNESS: TALU Town is an interactive playset in which kids help out characters in distress and earn playful rewards

Best Memory Match Game: Fiete Match

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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.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best App for Remembering Names: Name Play

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Name Play promotes early reading and writing through a child’s name. It offers 8 fun activities with many customizable components; among others, you can use the app to help kids remember their friends’ names. Also available for Apple Watch.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best App to Develop Sound-Object Association: Sound Salad

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A simple game that trains concentration, listening skills, and logical thinking. It has multiple levels of difficulty which allow kids of all ages and abilities to find appropriate challenges. It's also mostly text-free so young kids can use the app without much difficulty.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best App to Encourage Kindness: TALU Town

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An interactive experience in which kids drive around a virtual city and help out friendly characters with various tasks disguised as mini games. Each task requires kids to put on their thinking cap as they practice counting, matching, sorting, shapes, puzzles, and more.

Link: App Store | Our Review

Best Family Board Game: The Orchard by HABA

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The Orchard by HABA is a great app to get kids started with board games and also learning about colors. It has only a few rules and is very easy to learn. A narrator will guide you through the gameplay when you're playing for the first time. Each round of game is short but perfectly timed for young gamers.

Link: App Store | Our Review

 

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