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10 Fantastic and Kid Friendly iPad Apps

By John Cave Osborne |

iPad 2

No one in our house has an iPad. Yet. Despite the fact that we believe our nine-year-old is a bit young to have such a commodity, she’ll soon be the first one in our family to have one as her school is requiring that all of the students enrolled have one.

Although I’ve gone back and forth on that one, I ultimately decided that since I trust her school and have been very pleased with it thus far, I’m A-okay with their requirement. Plus, I’ve heard from a lot of educators who assure me that the educational benefits will gained by the iPad will far outweigh whatever parental concerns I have with it.

Which now leaves me with but one question: what are the best kid-friendly apps I can load on that thing?

Because if we’re gonna be forced to buy my daughter an iPad for school then I can promise you one thing: we’re gonna get something out of the deal, too. And I’ve opted for peace and quiet. During road trips, that is. We take a handful each year, usually to go to the beach, and, well… they can be quite trying. But nothing a kid-friendly app or two won’t take care of.

Now, I’ve gone on record before as saying that I don’t ever fork over my iPhone in hopes of entertaining my kids while waiting for the doctor. Nor do I offer it up while we’re out to eat in hopes of buying a little peace and quiet. In my opinion, parents do that far too often.

However, a 400-mile road trip strikes me as an okay time to try to entertain my kids. And thanks to DigitalTrends I’ve found a great list of 10 recommendations for kids aged 2 to 13. They are broken down into the following categories: Just for Fun, Learning and Creativity, and Puzzles. Here are my favorite from each category:

Just for Fun: Angry Birds gets the nod here. In fact, it’s one of the more popular Apple apps in their entertainment category, so I’m obviously not the only person this one appeals to. A pack of angry birds attempt to exact their revenge on some pigs who served their kids eggs for breakfast. One of the beautiful things about this particular app is that it appeals to ages 2 to 13. And though it’s not free, it’s only $0.99, so it won’t exactly break the bank, either.

Learning and Creativity: Maybe it’s because our triplets are really starting to get the different letters down pat, but my choice here is Interactive Alphabet. This app takes things a step further than some of the ABC flashcard you may have seen on iTunes. Every single letter is an interactive toy. So, for example, instead of just knowing “x” is for xylophone, your child can play with that xylophone, too. Interactive Alphabet will cost you $2.99.

Puzzles: My first Tangrams looks like a fantastic game for kids 2 and up. It’ll cost you $1.99. To play, all you have to do is drag and drop different shapes to make pictures. Given my kids fascination with legos, this looks like the next best thing and could buy us a lot of quiet time.

Until the four start fighting over our one iPad, that is.

Check out the rest of this great list by going over to DigitalTrends. Do you have any apps on your iPad that are really good for your kids?

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About John Cave Osborne


John Cave Osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as Babble, TLC, YahooShine, and the Huffington Post. John went from carefree bachelor to father of four in just 13 months after marrying a single mom, then quickly conceived triplets. Since then, they have added one more to the mix, a little boy they named Grand Finale. Read bio and latest posts → Read John's latest posts →

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11 thoughts on “10 Fantastic and Kid Friendly iPad Apps

  1. curious says:

    Please elaborate on what the damage is that can be done by giving your hyperactive child an iphone (beyond the physical damage to the phone – which at that point is irrelevant) to calm him down when in a crowded restaurant where everyone, including me, is trying to eat. Since you say it’s done too often in your opinion, you must surely have a coherent reason. Let’s hear it.

    1. John Cave Osborne says:

      @cuirous — i just think that by and large we are too quick to turn to our iPhone to babysit our kids. there seem to be two schools of thought on the matter. many, like you, feel it’s fine. others, like me, feel that by giving our kids our iPhones at the drop of a hat to entertain them, we’re setting the table to doing it more and more and more. your tone came off pretty harsh (angry, even). if giving your hyperactive child an iPhone to keep him or her quiet is what you do, i think it’s fantastic and am glad it’s working for you. thanks for reading…

  2. BlackOrchid says:

    I agree with you on that, Mr. Osborne.

    Okay, my kids love:

    - Toontastic – AMAZING! I love it too! Kids can easily make their own animations (cartoons really) and do voiceovers for the characters. It rocks! Easily the favorite of my two (6 and 8).

    - SpellBoard – makes learning your spelling words easy and fun. since getting this app my daughter is 100 percent on her spelling quizzes! (they have a MathBoard too but I don’t have that)

    - Soosiz – a cute little platformer-type game

    - Mindsnacks French – it’s free and a great way to learn some simple words in French. (they probably have other languages too)

    and I love Orisinal’s beautiful games, he has two available for the iPhone (the rest are online) – “Winterbells” and “Sunny Day Sky”

  3. ellen says:

    My 3 & 5 year old neices LOVE ‘Cupcakes’ (available for the iPad and iPhone). It’s only .99 and it provides endless amounts of entertainment for my neices. :)
    My 5 & 9 year old nephews love (besides Angry Birds;) Chop Chop Kicker and Fruit Ninja (both only .99).
    Hope those help! Have fun! :) )

  4. lam says:

    Aw man, I don’t use the iPad to babysit my kids. I use it as a fantastic and engaging tool for teaching them stuff. Star Walk anyone? Totally awesome for astronomy. Crayon Physics and Fantastic Contraption are great for basic construction of simple machines. Don’t miss Montessori Math and Montessori Letters! And Jungle Time, Jungle Coins, and Jungle Fractions. And how about the totally awesome and beautiful Period Table Book? Or the Elementals for showing the structure of atoms? Analogies for Kids is a great logic puzzle app. Cogs is a really cool steampunk slide-puzzle app. Scrabble for spelling! And Letter Forms for writing. And War Chess, and Flag Matching! Osmos, Uzu, Squiggle, ConstellaMajor, Gravilux, and BubbleHarp just for fun without being stupifyingly worthless.
    Come on, it’s not all Smack Talk and Angry Birds out there.

  5. Sophia's mom says:

    Never say never!!!! LOL. I have an Ipad and have to admit, I’ve become one of the those parents who use it as a distractionary tool for my spirited child, especially in public. At the restaurant when she is antsy after only 20 minutes of sitting down, out it comes and she looks at her alphabet flashcards. And yes, I see the judgemental looks from others. But not everyone has intense, “spirited” children and maybe not every parent gets as mortified as I do when their child has a public meltdown.

    Best apps for my 2 year old:

    1. Dora the explorer dancing game
    2. Alphabets under the sea
    3. Itsy bitsy spider
    4. Wheels on the bus

  6. Cygnus_Richard says:

    I think that apps for children are at the most valuable when there is a strong educational element, otherwise apps can become passive, just like watching TV.

    Kids need to be stimulated and allowed to learn creatively. I think the iPad offers a lot of opportunities for that with really great quality applications.

    Here’s an interesting link with what it takes to make a great educational app for the iPad:

  7. catb says:

    I agree there needs to be balance in anything – we institute a 1 hour total of screen time per day to help keep it from becoming a crutch – that said – there are so many great opportunities for learning and development in the apps. A lot of puzzle games like Rush Hour that I’d have no problem with my kid sitting down and going through the challenges – can also be found on the iPad. And it is a possible new venue for open-ended creativity with things like PuppetPals that let them create and record their own puppet productions with virtual puppets.

    Right off the bat we took a journey to find apps that we liked that supported learning and development for our son – we’ve been documenting what ones we like and ones we don’t over at

  8. Holly says:

    A Present for Milo by Ruckus Media

  9. Stef Robins says:

    I still find it amazing that schools require their students to use iPads. Technology has really gone a long way from the time I was in school! We’re an Apple family though so my kids are already used to using these gadgets. Like you, I don’t want to resort to babysitting my kids with iPads/iPhones whatever, but they sure come in handy in road trips and the like.

    And I do love apps! I’m a fan of family-friendly apps that help my kids, and me as well. By the way, if it’s alright, I’d like to recommend one of my current favorite apps, Intuition. Tagged as mom’s personal assistant, it’s a task management app that has many features designed to help us moms. It’s really easy to use and it looks cute, too. Plus, it’s free! You can check it out on

  10. Elementary School Teacher says:

    In recent studies, book apps have been proven to encourage kids–even children who would otherwise avoid reading–to read. There are quite a few good ones, including my current favorite (because it’s as clever as can be, and appealing to kids due to the dog character) Millie Was Here, Book 1: Meet Millie (free!) and book 2: Millie and the Lost Key (about $3). Both are in the iTunes app store.

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