Best Apps for Three-Year-Olds

As geek dad 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, 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
A fun 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.
Best Early Math App: Mathlandia
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. It has great replay value as the paintings and object are placed differently each time.
Best Writing/Tracing App: Yum-Yum Letters
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 also offers 3 unique themes and complementary mini games to reinforce learning and build motivation.
Best Sight Words App: Sight Words
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.
Best App to Learn about Shapes: Very Hungry Caterpillar Shapes
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.
BEST FAIRYTALE STORYBOOK: 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 FAIRYTALE STORYBOOK: 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 Bedtime Storybook: My Naughty Shadow
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.
Best Cultural Storybook: Bramble Berry Tales - The Great Sasquatch

The second installment in the Bramble Berry Tales series that 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. Available in several languages including French, Spanish, and Halq’emeylem.

You should also check out the first book in the series: The Story of Kalkalih. Both books have great interactive features and animations that make for an enjoyable reading experience.

Best Storybook to Develop Listening Skills: One giggly Gorilla
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.
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
Part of the Healthy Mouths campaign, this app encourages kids to brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day by brushing with fairytale characters. It includes tips and animated videos on how to brush properly, and a fun two-player game mode. A built-in calendar and reminders help parents track their child’s progress.
Best Health/Hygiene App (tie): Daniel Tiger's Stop & Go Potty
A simple app that encourages kids to stop playing when they need to go, through fun games, music videos, and a catchy theme song. It also includes helpful tips on potty training for parents.
Best App to Encourage Healthy Eating: Terri at the Market
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.
Best Musical App (tie): Melody Jams
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.
Best Musical App (tie): Bubl Draw
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.
Best Toy App: Fuzzy House
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.
Best Role-Playing App: Tiny Pirates
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.
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
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.
Best Drawing App: Artie's Magic Pencil
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.
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
This colorful app lets juniors 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 App to Develop Spatial Reasoning: RelationShapes
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.
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 App to Learn about Dinosaurs: Dinosaur Train A to Z
The ultimate dinosaur app, it helps kids learn about dinosaurs and alphabets simultaneously. Kids can touch and swipe to feed the dinosaurs, explore X-Ray mode, and learn 50 dinosaur facts. Available in English and Spanish.
Best Train Simulation Game: Comomola Farwest Train
A terrific train simulation game for little kids and train-lovers in general. It's simple to use, and 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.
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

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 App for Remembering Names: Name Play
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.
Best App to Develop Sound-Object Association: Sound Salad
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.
Best App to Encourage Kindness: TALU Town
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.
Best Family Board Game: Kate and Harry in Africa
Made for ages 3–6, this app is an educational introduction to board games. Kids can play alone or with a friend to explore the African safari while taking photos of exotic animals and learning to count up to six. ESL-friendly, and makes for a great travel companion.
 

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