At A Grade Ahead, we are certain of two things: the first being that enrichment programs are beneficial and productive (of course!), and the second is that kids love technology. Whether its with smartphones or tablets, children become tech savvy at a young age. While it’s important to have a good balance of technological and non-technological experiences, we know that most children will inevitably have a tablet or a smartphone – or access to one – at some point. With the overflow of apps in the app stores, it can be hard to make sure that kids are accessing age-appropriate material. To help you out, we conducted research and found some awesome free educational apps for kids, and some educational-inspired apps, that parents like you can feel good about letting your kids play. (And yes – that does mean my actual work assignment was testing out apps for children!)
Apps can be an excellent tool for children, especially those developing core skills taught in their schools and enrichment programs. They help children develop skills in a fun and interactive format (and the game format may prevent any hesitance from your child!). Many of today’s apps boost creativity and logic while helping children develop a better understanding of educational material they’ve learned already. However, we must stress that these apps are for fun and reinforcement – they will not teach the material like a comprehensive English or math curriculum will.
There are plenty of apps available, both for free and at a cost, for nearly every subject and interest. The big question is this: how do you choose quality apps for kids and not break the bank? We already put together 25 online puzzles for kids – Now, we’ve put together a list of free educational apps for kids recommended by parents, educational leaders, and other experts for you and your child to explore!
A Grade Ahead Recommends: Free Educational Apps for Kids
1. PBS Kids Games (2-8 yrs)
PBS has a well-respected history of providing educational content to children. You can expect nothing less from its app! This app includes free games for kids 2-8 featuring characters from popular PBS shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Wild Kratts, Super Why, Dinosaur Train and more. The app encourages creativity and helps build upon the valuable math and English skills we teach at A Grade Ahead. This is a must if your child is a fan of PBS shows. Allow them to interact with their favorite characters and get some quality educational time!
Not every game is purely educational, but this is a great app to devote some precious storage space in order to keep kids entertained with appropriate, productive games! You can rest easy knowing that your younger children are playing safe, education-inspired games.
2. Nick Jr. (all ages)
The Nick Jr. app is another popular choice! Children can explore concepts they’ve learned at an A Grade Ahead academy or the Enrichment at Home program through games starring their favorite Nick Jr. characters. Games on the app allow children to practice counting, identifying shapes and patterns, and practice drawing skills (but it won’t actually teach them these skills, so be sure to consider an enrichment program that will!). Kids love it because it is easy for them to use and navigate on their own. They can even watch some television shows. While we aren’t advocating for watching shows all day, there will definitely be times that this game and show combination app will come in handy for parents.
BONUS: Nick Jr. Books
This app didn’t make the list, purely because it’s not completely free – though you do get three books off the bat for just downloading the app! This app helps instill children with the love of reading that all of our A Grade Ahead teachers have. Each book has 3 narration modes: auto-read, read aloud, and read myself. Even better, the app also offers Dora the Explorer books narrated in Spanish to give students a head start on building language skills!
Kids will enjoy this app because each completed book earns them stars. The progress is easily trackable for both kids and parents. Each page has interactive elements, so kids are interacting with all their favorite Nick Jr. characters.
3. YouTube Kids (all ages)
Youtube can be a scary place for an unsupervised child – but not anymore! Download YouTube Kids to find a library filled with family-friendly videos on various topics. These videos give your child the opportunity to explore a variety of interests through educational and entertaining videos. The great thing about the YouTube Kids app is that it gives children the opportunity to learn more about a wide range of topics.
For instance, if your child is really interested in dinosaurs, he or she can find many different videos on dinosaurs and similar topics that might be interesting. If your child likes to draw, there are several instructional videos on drawing. Let him or her explore new interests in an environment created exclusively for children and closely monitored for safety and age-appropriate content.
4. Tynker Junior (ages 4+)
One of the biggest new realms of success is in the world of coding. Kids as young as 4 can get in on the action and use this fun app to start building an understanding of coding! This app is made specifically for kids who are not yet fluent readers and uses picture blocks and friendly voiceovers.
Children snap together graphical blocks in order to move their characters across the screen. There are over 200 coding challenges, so if your child is interested, it will be sure to keep him or her engrossed for quite some time.
Plus, kids will love the various settings and themes, like the ocean, a robot factory, and a jungle path!
5. GoNoodle (grades K-5)
GoNoodle’s overall concept is to help improve academic success by encouraging physical activity and mindfulness in children of all ages. The app inspires kids to move their bodies while they develop academic, social, and emotional skills. The app features short videos where they may learn dance, yoga, aerobics, and more. This app is great for providing limited screen time and exercise at the same time. Kids love the fun activities and the opportunity to burn off some stress and energy, helping them stay focused on the next task at hand.
6. Science360 (8+ yrs)
Who better for your child to learn science from none other than the National Science Foundation? The NSF created Science360, the award-winning app offering the latest science and engineering news, images, and videos from scientists and universities around the world. New content is added weekly keeping your child informed, educated, and engaged in fascinating scientific facts. The app is recommended for ages 8 and up. Parents might even find it interesting! This is the informative, interesting app that your very own little scientist has been waiting for – so check it out.
7. Duolingo (10+ yrs)
Duolingo is a language learning app that offers practice in over 30 languages. Recommended for ages 10 and up, Duolingo is a popular choice for high schoolers and even adults who want to learn a second language. The award-winning app makes learning a new language fun by using audio, word identification, and oral exercises to help teach and practice the language of choice.
If your child needs help building English-language skills, though, be sure to find an appropriate enrichment program to give your child the best chance at success!
Apps can be wonderful tools in preparing kids for many parts of life, inside of school and out. While it’s natural to worry as a parent, A Grade Ahead wants to make your life a little easier so you can feel assured that your children are having positive and fulfilling experiences on their tech devices! We sincerely hope this list of free educational apps for kids helped give you a few ideas of what to fill that smartphone or tablet with.
What are your favorite apps for kids? Do you let your children play games on phones or tablets? If you try any of these free educational apps for kids, let us know what you think in the comments below. We always love hearing from our readers!
Author: Brenna Waugaman, Curriculum Writer and Teacher at A Grade Ahead
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