15 Best Educational Apps For Kids – Ages 1 and Up

Are you looking for educational apps for kids? It is easy for today’s parents to get their kids to spend more time on the screen. Combining the best of technology and education has produced fun and engaging ways for children to learn through educational apps backed by research and loved by parents and educators. We highlight 15 of the best educational apps for kids ranging from toddlers and pre-kindergarten to teens in high school and college.

surprised toddler
Image Credit: troyanphotos via Canva.com.

We looked for educational apps that:

  • Are fun, engaging, and interactive.
  • Cover relevant subjects, especially reading, language, and math.
  • Builds confidence, skills, and a love of learning in students.
  • Provide tracking reports for parents.

According to studies, 90% of children aged two to three use a touchscreen device, and infants and toddlers spend an average of 10 to 45 minutes daily on these devices. Research broadly finds young children of five and younger can learn from interactive apps, and it seems to increase in age for older children.

Parents can guide their kids toward interactive games, which provide a valuable opportunity to grow social-emotional skills and experiential learning in critical subjects that resonate throughout life. Later on, young adults can try simulated games that teach them how to invest, teach financial literacy, or how to fix a car.

1. ABCMouse

The Step-by-Step Learning Path is a feature-rich program that presents the full ABCmouse.com curriculum focusing on reading and language arts, math, science and social studies, art, and colors. The carefully designed program is backed by research by early education experts to evaluate ABCmouse.

There are more than 850 lessons in ten levels, using books, games, puzzles, and songs that promote interactivity targeting toddlers of two years to children in the third grade. As your child completes each lesson, he or she is guided to the next one and is motivated to continue learning by ABCmouse.com’s Tickets and Rewards System, which tracks their progress.

Ages: 2-8
• Cost: One-month free trial, then $12.99/month subscription, or $59.99/year.
• Availability: on a website, tablet, kindle, or smartphone. The app is on iOS, Android, or the Amazon app store.

2. Brain Pop Jr. Movie of the Week

The free downloadable BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week app is a teaching resource for educators and parents designed for early learners in K-3. The plan offers a new, animated video weekly with related quizzes and features. The engaging and comprehensive modules are Science, Health, Reading & Writing, Math, Social Studies, Arts, and Technology.  Parents can opt-in for a family or homeschool subscription with 200 age-appropriate topics on all subjects on the video-driven platform using cartoon characters. Besides the short videos, the subscription provides assessments, activities, quizzes, and drawings.

  • Ages: K-3
    • Cost: One-month free trial, then $9.92/month subscription, or $119/year.
    • Availability: The app is available from the Apple Store, Google Play, Windows Store, and Amazon Appstore.

3. Busy Shapes

Montessori inspires the Busy Shapes app through the Edoki Academy with 30 learning apps for kids. The Busy Shapes app is designed for toddlers to preschool kids for early interactive learning with technology on smartphones and iPads. The kids move objects of different shapes, sizes, and colors and learn spatial recognition and attention to relatable shapes. Parents give high marks to Busy Shapes for creating a digital playground that enhances their kids’ logic and reasoning skills at an early age.

  • Ages: 2-5+
  • Cost: $2.99 one-time for the app.
  • Availability: The app is available on App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore.  Code Spark Academy

4. Codespark Academy

Codespark helps kids aged 5-9 years to learn to code by igniting their curiosity in computer science and turning programming into play by designing games that can be shared with up to three children. Their award-winning app is based on MIT, Princeton, and Carnegie Mellon research, personalized to each child’s progress. No experience is required to begin coding. They found that 90 minutes of play increases confidence and problem-solving skills.

The children learn new skills weekly, get access to hundreds of puzzles, create their games, design maps, and get progress reports. Offline, they get a digital workbook with 50+ pages of coding activities to reinforce what they learn on the app.

  • Ages: 5-9 years
  • Cost: 7-day free trial. Two plans: $15/month subscription, or $90/year equal to $7.50/month.
  • Availability: The app is available from the Apple Store, Google Play, and Amazon App Store, using iOS, Android, or Kindle Fire, and available on any compatible device, including desktops.

5. DragonBox

DragonBox began in 2011 by a high school math teacher and a game developer cognitive scientist and has grown into a team of educational experts, dedicated teachers, game developers, designers, cognitive scientists, writers, and artists passionate about creating innovative and engaging game-based learning tools. Their learning tools have won several international awards and are used by over a million parents, teachers, and children worldwide.

DragonBox math apps are for children 4 to 8 years and more advanced for ages 8+ and have printable resources for parents and educators doing offline work. One game is designed to teach algebra to kids as young as five-year-olds with instant feedback. Through playing with DragonBox games based on digital manipulatives, students can understand the mathematical concepts through active engagement while learning at their own pace online or in the classroom.

  • Ages: 4-8+ years. More advanced games are available for those aged 12 and older.
  • Cost: 7-day free trial. $9.99/month subscription, or $59.99/year
  • Availability: The apps are available from the Apple Store and Google Play on compatible devices, including smartphones and tablets.

6. Duolingo

Duolingo, launched in 2012, is among the best ways to learn a language through game-oriented lessons. Learning with Duolingo is fun. With quick, bite-sized lessons, you’ll earn points and unlock new levels while gaining real-world communication skills. Duolingo’s lessons teach reading, listening, and speaking, combining AI and language science in a personalized manner to help learners at their level and pace.

Combining the best of AI and language science, lessons are tailored to help you learn at just the right level and pace and develop language learning habits. Users stay motivated using game-like features, playful characters, and fun challenges.  Duolingo’s curriculum is based on national and international standards and backed by research.

  • Ages: 13+
  • Cost: Three plans: 14-day trial, Free with a few essential features and ads;  Super Duolingo $6.99/ month if you buy an $84 annual plan or $12.99 per month; Duolingo Max has the most features if you buy an annual plan at $183.88.
  • Availability: Desktop or apps through App store or Google Play.

 7. Epic!

Epic is among the most comprehensive digital reading platforms for 250+ world’s top publishers. As the most extensive digital library in the world, it is designed to make books more accessible to kids 12 years and under for any reading level on any topic. Its interactive reading app lets kids explore their interests in 40,000 of the best children’s and award-winning books and experience reading in various ways, including audiobooks, quizzes, and learning videos. This app encourages young kids to appreciate the importance of reading for pleasure.  The subscription provides excellent tools for kids and parents through its dashboard to track progress.

  • Ages: Three levels, serving ages 12 and under.
  • Cost: 7-day free trial, then $11.99/month subscription, or $79.99/year.
  • Availability: Apple store and Google Play

8. Funbrain Jr.

Funbrain Jr. is a collection of unique and vibrant games for preschoolers and kindergarteners that helps jumpstart their journey of learning. Offering five separate fun and engaging games, Funbrain Jr. introduces little learners to several essential skills while they play.

With the help of colorful and quirky Funbrain Jr. characters, kids ages 2-6 will love practicing skills in early literacy, letter recognition and sounds, math, including sequence and patterns, number sets, and problem-solving.  Funbrain Jr. was created by the hugely popular Poptropica.com and Funbrain.com developers, providing quality content to millions of children.

  • Ages: 2-6 years in preschool and kindergarten
  • Cost: Free
  •  Availability: App Store on Apple devices

9. Learning with Homer

Learning With Homer is the first digital foundational reading program created by literacy experts and advisors to the new Common Core standards, combining decades of experience in education and the classroom. Its program is backed by research with measurable results for children ages 2 to 8 years in early literacy development and enhancing school readiness.

Homer claims that their program increases reading scores by 74%. Their ad-free app is available for up to four child profiles. It supports 1,000 activities with personalized navigation across specific skills across subjects, including reading,  math concepts, social and emotional learning, self-expression, and expanded creativity through storytelling and other activities. The service also provides a digital workload for kids to reinforce offline learning.

  • Ages:  For ages 2 to 8 years
    • Subscription Cost: 30-day free trial, then $9.99/month, or $59.99/year.
    • Availability: iOS, Android, and Amazon

10. Hopscotch

Hopscotch is a coding app, beginning with young kids ages 4+ and with more advanced applications for older kids. Through kid-friendly programming, you can create games, art, stories, or other projects, kids are only limited by their imagination to learn through playing.  Award-winning Hopscotch will keep challenging kids to create increasingly advanced games and apps as they master coding skills. The company claims at least 10 million families are coding on its apps, and its tools are used on 44% of school iPads in the US.

  • Ages: Starts at age 4+ but ramps up for older kids.
  • Cost: 7-day free trial, Free version, and Hopscotch Pro $9.99/month subscription, or $79.99/year.
  • Availability: Only Apple iOS on iPhones and iPadsKhan Academy Kids

11. Khan Academy Kids

Sal Khan founded Khan Academy in 2004 to provide a free personalized learning experience built on thousands of videos on Youtube and its website for over 70 million students in the US and worldwide. Khan Academy Kids was developed with Stanford and aligned with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework and Common Core Standards.

Unlike other learning apps for young kids ages two to five years, Khan Academy Kids’ app is 100% free without ads making it more accessible to a more significant population. The program focuses on the whole child. It uses an adaptive learning path to engage them in core subjects like early literacy, reading, writing, language, and math with activities, videos, and books while encouraging creativity and building social-emotional skills.

They use whimsical characters like its narrator Kodi Bear to guide kids through activities and stories. They also captivate children’s attention using original interactive activities, books, animated videos, games, and creative lessons. Kids can read independently using its library collection that narrates through a book reader or on their own.

  • Ages: 2-5+
  • Cost: 100% free without ads.
  • Availability: The app is on App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon Appstore.

12. Phonics Genius

Phonics Genius is one of the best ways to rapidly learn how to speak, read, and recognize words through phonic awareness. This app is designed to help young kids recognize and distinguish words by sounds. This app is loaded with content with over 6,000 unique words intelligently grouped into categories by phonics.

Customizable features allow you to set capitalization, font type, size, color, and order type (random, alphabetical) and edit or delete flashcard sets. For infants, increasing font and using bright colors is desirable. New flashcards and sets can be created by visiting settings and choosing “Customize Flashcards.” A unique continuous looping feature allows you to go through hundreds of flashcards automatically but at the desired speed. Phonics Genius is a multi-sensory learning tool combining audio, voice, and written words. Parents have praised this app, saying their six-year-old children remain engaged with words on this app.

  • Ages: 1 to 6 years
  • Cost: The app is $2.99.
  • Availability: App store: iPhone and iPad

13. Prodigy

Prodigy’s approach uses fun, digital game-based learning in curriculum-aligned Math and English for reading and language skills in an exciting fantasy world that motivates its kids to answer questions to win battles and complete quests. Their adaptive algorithms match each student’s learning style and grade level. While Math and English games are separate journeys, one Prodigy account allows you to access both subjects. Research has proven that Prodigy effectively improves math achievement through its game, supported by over 1500+ skills and 50,000 questions.

They have a free introductory offer with core features. However,  they have two premium offerings called memberships that offer significant benefits, allowing students to earn Wishcoins, keeping them engaged in the game, and making saving up for items at the in-game shop easier.

  • Grades: The math curriculum is for Grades 1 to 8. The English curriculum is for Grades 1 to 6.
  • Cost: Basic plan is free. Level Up is $6.25/month and $74.95/annual, and Ultimate is $8.33/month and $99.95
  • Availability: The app is on App Store, Google Play, Microsoft, the Amazon Appstore, and all relevant devices, including smartphones, Chromebooks, PCs, and Kindle Fire.

 14. Quizlet

Quizlet is well known as a popular online learning and study tool using flashcards with questions and answers for high school and college students. They have seven different study modes expected to grow using 14K popular textbooks to create flashcards.  The subject expert-made flashcards help students study and do homework by breaking down complex explanations into smaller, more manageable pieces to understand the material.

Quizlet found that spaced repetition with practicing what you’re learning just before you’re about to forget helps people strengthen long-term memory. There is research to support this kind of learning. Separately, Quizlet shared that more than 92% of their students surveyed reported higher grades after studying with Quizlet.

  • Ages: High school and college students
  • Cost:  No free plans. Two premium plans: $35.99/annually (equals $2.99/month)  or a higher monthly amount of $7.99/month.
  • Availability: The app is on App Store, Google Play, Microsoft, the Amazon Appstore, and all relevant devices, including smartphones, Chromebooks, PCs, and Kindle Fire.

15. Stack the States

Stack the States is a game-oriented geography app allowing you to learn about the 50 states in the US, including the state capitals, shapes, geographic locations, and flags, while being able to touch, move and drop the animated states anywhere on the screen.

The goal is to collect all 50 states successfully. You earn a random state for every completed level. All of your states appear on your personalized map of the United States. As you earn more states, you begin to unlock the four free bonus games: Map It, Pile Up, Puzzler, and Capital Drop. Four games in one!  Some knowledge about US geography is essential for playing the game.

  • Grades: 8+ years
  • Cost: $2.99 for the app.
  • Availability: The app is on App Store, Google Play, Microsoft, Amazon Appstore, and all relevant devices, including smartphones, PCs, and Kindle Fire.

This article originally appeared on Hello Sensible.


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