Best Educational Apps for Kids
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Kids love screen time, but if you want your child to do a little less Pokémon chasing and a little more learning, there’s good news. Many of today’s apps for kids are combining technology and education to make learning more engaging, interactive, and—dare we say—fun than ever before.
Whatever skills or subjects your child is interested in, there are a wide variety of educational apps available. Ahead, we’ve highlighted the seven best learning apps for kids loved by both parents and youngsters.
The 7 Best Educational Apps for Kids in 2022
Best Overall : Khan Academy
Why We Chose It: Suitable for beginner and advanced students, Khan Academy offers learning opportunities for students of all ages across many subjects, including math, economics, and history.
Khan Academy is the gold standard for educational apps, particularly considering the wide range of courses it offers for students of all ages and because it’s free. Khan Academy’s YouTube videos cover a range of levels for most subjects: math, science and engineering, arts and humanities (including history and social studies), economics, AP courses, and test prep.
English language arts (ELA) seems to be one notable weakness of Khan Academy courses, though it has some work-in-progress offerings for second- to ninth-grade students. There also are no foreign language courses, though Khan Academy instruction is available in dozens of languages, with varying numbers of course offerings.
Khan Academy is popular among students, parents, and educators because its videos are engaging and targeted at visual learners, using photos, maps, and other illustrations, and because it allows students to work at their own pace.
The courses include quizzes to test students’ comprehension. Khan Academy also has shifted toward developing materials in conjunction with Common Core. A junior version, Khan Academy Kids, targets young learners from toddler to five years old. It’s a mobile device app that covers math, ELA, logic, and socio-emotional learning by using books, games, songs, and videos.
Best for Toddlers : Busy Shapes
Busy Shapes is an app aligned with the Montessori method of self-directed, hands-on learning. As such, it’s perfect for young kids just starting to interact with technology. The app is designed to develop young children’s logic and reasoning skills by learning about how objects relate to each other and how they can manipulate them.
Busy Shapes is simple to play. Kids drag an object into a hole—they are challenged to match the shape of the object with the corresponding hole—and eventually, another object and hole will appear in a new setting.
Best for Preschoolers : ABCmouse.com
Why We Chose It: ABCmouse.com has more than 10,000 activities available to play on its app or website. There are games for traditional subjects, like math, science, and language arts, as well as art activities, songs, and puzzles.
Because it’s a full-fledged curriculum, ABCmouse isn’t cheap—it costs around $10/month. However, if your child doesn’t attend preschool, the app is a great substitute to get them ready for elementary school, as parents can track their progress.
The only reservation some reviewers, such as Common Sense Media, have with ABCmouse, is that it rewards children’s progress with tickets, which can be used to purchase virtual items. While this feature is sure to be successful in keeping kids using the program, some would argue it encourages consumerism instead of learning for learning’s sake.
Best for Elementary School Kids : Prodigy
Prodigy is more designed to test kids’ knowledge rather than introduce them to math topics for the first time. Kids earn spells by answering questions correctly and get to do monster battles as they move through different fantasy worlds.
The basic app is free, but a paid premium subscription offers more features and costs about $60 annually. Despite the fact that Prodigy is widely loved by kids, one drawback for parents is that there seems to be significant pressure within the game to make in-app purchases.
Best for Tweens : Google Arts and Culture
If you’re looking for a complete language-learning package, Babbel is the way to go. It teaches the basics of grammar, including special vowels and consonants and their correct pronunciations, before moving on to conversational scenarios in common settings. I particularly like the conversations where you fill in the blanks, the option to choose courses on different topics (there’s no fixed order), and the insights into local culture and slang. Babbel does a great job of explaining grammar rules as you practice to build a deeper understanding. The mixture of learning options includes podcasts and games, and you can even book live online classes with language teachers (though this is expensive). The pacing is good, with a slow increase in difficulty and plenty of spaced repetition to reinforce your learning.
Unfortunately, the free trial is limited, offering just a single lesson for each language. Some lessons are dry, and it inevitably feels repetitive at times. There’s no real gamification here, so it lacks the addictive hook of some other apps. I also occasionally had issues with speech recognition and could not nail the pronunciation.
Our top picks
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 and toddlers engaged. Our parent testers said they loved ABCmouse.com even before we started testing the best apps for kids!
Teachers, parents, and kids are all a fan of the Khan Academy app that features thousands of free resources on everything from early math to art history. From preschool to high school, children of all ages can enjoy and learn on this non-profit’s platform. All of its programming is entirely free, so you don’t have to worry about subscription fees. Parents of our testers say that the videos helped each kid learn at their own pace. For those with kids under 4, check out their child-friendly counterpart, Khan Academy Kids on iOS or Android, which features a lot of the great elements of the older app at an age appropriate level.
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.
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
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.
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. P.S.: Parents can use this app, too!
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!