You might be feeling that any apps you download for your kids to use on your smartphone or iPad should be educational so here are 15 free educational apps and games for children reviewed by Mykidstime Parents and Kids.
#1. Shape puzzle free – iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
I downloaded this app and went through it before I gave it to my daughter. The app is essentialy a puzzle on your phone. You have the outline of an animal in the jungle and you put the pieces into the outline. When you have completed it, it tells you what the animal is and also shows the word on the screen.
My daughter’s words for it were “This is easy peasy”. I had the level set a difficult. As there was only the jungle screen she got bored of it quite quickly and looked for the other scenes. As well as having her put the puzzle together I got her to pick out letters she knew in the word. So it could be used for spelling too.
Reviewed by Naomi
Rating: Would give it 4 out of 5. Only because I think they should have a lock on the next screen or have it got to a next level automatically after it is successfully completed.
#2. Phones for kids – iPhone and iPad
The app has a compass that tells you where north, south etc are, a colouring page, a pretend texting page, an alphabet section, and section which tells you the 4 seasons.
I didn’t think it was great to be honest. They got all excited when they saw the compass as they thought they could use it for exploring but they couldn’t. For my kids (6 and 8) it was not good. My 6 yr old played with it for about 10 mins and then handed it back to me.. quote from him “it’s boring”.
Reviewed by Tina
Rating: For me it would be 1 out of 5
#3. Crayon kids painting 2 – iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
Crayon kids is a painting app which mimics the textures and patterns of colouring with crayons.
It offers a variety of different colouring pages for the child to choose from and also allows favoured coloured in pages to be saved into a gallery.
We liked this app, so much so that when my little boy (just turned 3) was sick with a high temperature, he asked to play with this app. He enjoyed the car colouring pages the most, and we ended up buying the full version of the app so he could access the rest of the pages. One downside is that his chubby fingers have some difficulty picking the individual coloured crayons. But overall we really liked this app.
Quote from my child: I like that there are lots of different blue crayons (his favourite colour) and cars.
Reviewed by Karen
Rating: 4 out of 5 (point deducted only because of the chubby finger selection difficulty)
#4. Learn French mind snacks – iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
The app aims to test your knowledge of French through a number of games, more of which can be unlocked through further play and/or buy buying the complete app.
Having not done French since Secondary school I found it good for testing my day-to-day words although it set me up as Level 2 which is fairly basic so I doubt I’ll find it much use on my holidays unless I develop further between now and then! I do love French though so anything that helps me to improve even my basic French is good and the pronunciation on the app is very clear which is great.
My eldest is 5 3/4 and is extremely eager to learn French but it was a bit advanced for him as he is only learning to read. He’s having fun trying though and said ‘thanks for downloading this for me Mummy! It’s a bit hard but i’ll get better!!”
Reviewed by Susan
Rating: 4 out of 5
#5. Peekaboo barn lite – Phone, iPod touch and iPad
The app is one based on animals hiding in a barn, you can hear the animal, see the barn shaking, then tap the screen the barn doors open and the animal appears. It then tells you the name of the animal. There are 3 different animals in the lite version.
I though it was quite good, I did not like the pronunciation of the animals as it is not very clear. I feel children should hear the animals namely clearly. My 15 month old & 3 year old enjoyed playing with it.
The 3 year old ‘where’s the horse’ ‘get more animals Mammy’. Plenty of laughter at the barn shaking and the noise of the animals, overall really enjoyed it but wanted more animals, he was not that interested in it after the first few turns – so I ended up buying the full version and he is very happy with that!
Reviewed by Louise
Rating: 3 out of 5 because of the pronunciation of the animals names and also because it really is a lite version
#6. How to Make Origami – iPhone and iPad
I downloaded this app with my 7-year-old daughter, who is very “crafty”; she loves her Make and Do.
It’s a nicely designed, simple App which lets you (or your child) select from a short list of Origami shapes (eg fox, house, windmill) which are rated according to difficulty.
As a parent, I was disappointed that the construction of the pieces was actually a little more complicated than we’d expected. Instructions are set out beautifully – simple, step-by-step and animated. But in each set of instructions there was one “stage” where a lot seemed to be happening at once and neither I nor my daughter could figure it out … why is theirs folding that way? are you meant to cut the paper at this stage? are you meant to squash it?
My daughter said: “I don’t like this anymore, I can’t do it properly, and I tried them all”, and then she never went back to it again.
Reviewed by Sara
Rating: 2 out of 5 (and one of those is for the nice orange and white colours!)
#7. How to make paper aeroplanes – iPhone and iPad
This app has about 7 or 8 models of paper airplanes to make with a clear menu of how many steps are needed in each plane and also the difficulty of each. Once you select which plane you want to make, it has clear 3D images of what you need to fold and in which direction. If you missed a step or couldn’t quite get it the first time, there is a repeat button for each step.
We made about 4 of the airplanes and the end product didn’t always look exactly like their models ( maybe that explained why they didn’t fly as far as I would have expected) I think this app would appeal to both boys and girls from about 6 or 7 years of age, but they might still require some adult help with the tricker models. ( My oldest daughter is only 5 and had had enough of the planes after the 3rd one)
Reviewed by Guilia
Rating: I would give this app 3 1/2 out of 5.
#8. Shakespeare in bits – iPhone and iPad
Described as “A new, exciting, multimedia approach to learning and teaching Shakespeare’s plays”, Shakespeare In Bits brings The Bard’s most popular plays to life through animated re-enactment, full audio and unabridged text.
Having not looked at any Shakespeare since high school, I was interested to see what this app was like.
The free version offers you 2 samples of part of 2 plays: Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet. There is spoken dialogue with animation as well as a plot summary, analysis and quite cool diagrams showing the relationships between all of the characters. My 10 year old daughter said “I liked listening to the dialogue, it’s easier to listen than to read.” I think the full app would probably be quite useful to secondary level students as I do think it is better to watch and listen to something than just read scripts of plays.
Reviewed by Jill
Rating: 3 out of 5
#9. Times table lite – iPhone and iPad
TimesTables is described as “a challenging, fun and interactive way for children to learn the multiplication tables.”
The Lite version has 3 out of 12 tables. You choose the table you want to study e.g. 2 and it cycles through all the entries in the table. You can listen to the spoken version of the table and then you can test yourself by writing the answers and it offers a check and a Test option with 3 levels of difficulty as well.
My 8 year old son thought it was easy to use and he liked the Shuffle version of the Test.
Reviewed by Sara
Rating: 4 out of 5
#10. Cula caint – iPhone and iPad
This App brings you over 100 fun Irish language words and images for pre-school kids or learners. The words include Weather, Animals, Vehicles, and Parts of the Body
Cula caint app is very basic and aimed at preschool level. My children lost interest very quickly. An English/Irish translator would be a handy add on.
Reviewed by Emer
Rating: 1 out of 5
#11. WordUp! – Android
WordUp is a wordsearch type app in which you have to trace out words from the letters in front of you.
I personally don’t usually like these type of word search games, but as a parent I can see the benefit of them in increasing vocabulary.
My eldest, however, is only 5 and in junior infants and, to be honest, wasn’t that impressed. Maybe in another couple of years when her spelling and vocab knowledge have increased it would be more suitable.
Reviewed by Fiona
Rating: I’d give this one 3/5
#12. Soundtouch lite – Android
This app is easy to use. it had sections for familiar animals, birds, house, instruments, zoo animals, vehicle noises. You can upgrade app for more options.
Both my young children liked it. My five year old was able to get the noise himself. He thought some of them where very funny. And because there were pictures too he saw different types of dogs, owls, buses etc. When one of the owl pictures came up my son got a little fright. He said “That scared my life” then laughed and went off doing more of the noises.
I have just been in the process of telling my 15 month old girl what noises dogs and cats say and I though this app was good to show her different animals and sounds.
Reviewed by Loretta
Rating: I would give this app 4 out of 5
#13. Chicktionary – Android
The app helps put words together through a medium of a game. You are given 7 chickens each with a different letter on them. You have to tap on the chicken and it lays an egg and all the letters make a word which gives you points.
My 6 year old loved the game as she got to learn new words and concentrate on her spellings. I also really enjoyed it as it got me thinking of words i wouldnt use everyday. its a great way of expanding your vocabulary.
Reviewed by Maria
Rating: 4 out of 5
#14. AniWorld Lite – Android
AniWorld is designed for your kid to learn more about animals in an interactive enjoyable fun way.
It has 36 different fun animals to choose from and 250 different pictures. When the kid choose an animal in the game he get the main animal screen, the kid sees the animal and hears the animal sound.
I tried this game out with my 6.5 yrs old daughter & my 4 yr old son, firstly they both enjoyed the app however I was surprised to find that it was my daughter who actually played with it for longer & really seemed to enjoy it. She particularly liked petting the animal & seeing & hearing the picture & music change. Although my son enjoyed it he got tired of it after approx 15mins however he did ask to play it the next day.
From a parental point of view I found it rather boring & the music is very annoying. There were a couple of unusual animals on it but the pig & the donkey were the most popular with my kids so I don’t know if it really is likely to be educational. The feature to select the animals’ food was a nice idea.
As a free app for a quick play it is ok but I imagine it wouldn’t be either child’s first pick if they were given the choice.
Reviewed by Sandra
Rating: 3 out of 5
#15. Toddler World Lite – Android
This app is a basic learning tool for kids, focusing on first letters, colours and some memory and recognition games. Installed without any difficulty and ran easily each time it was used on my Samsung. Graphics and visuals are basic and limited but it is the free version of the app and the full version may have more.
Parental review: good primary colours and clear picture for a very young child but just not engaging enough for older toddlers/kids. Matching game kept child amused for a short period – again assume full version has more levels. A nice idea to promote early learning but doesn’t deliver on this version.
Child review: Matching game was fun, other sections were boring!
Reviewed by Mary
Rating: 2 out of 5
If you have a favourite free educational app that your kids love, let us know in the comments below!