Apps for Education and Entertainment

With tons of free children's apps on the market labeling themselves "educational" where's a good place to begin? Here are some picks for free high quality apps for kids and some tips for choosing your own.

Khan Academy Kids: A free, fun learning environment with robust math and reading curriculum.

  • Best for kids ages: PreK-3rd grade
  • Features: Practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard 
  • Available for: AndroidiOS, Amazon Apps
  • Good to know: Developer Khan Academy is a nonprofit with a mission to "provide a free, world‑class education for anyone, anywhere." 

Duck Duck Moose: Developer of free, high quality apps that encourage kids to explore and learn in a safe and fun environment.

  • Best for kids ages: PreK-7th grade
  • Features: Over twenty apps that support reading, playing, and learning for grades preschool through upper elementary. 
  • Available for: AndroidiOS, Amazon Apps
  • Good to know: You might even recognize one or two apps that you've interacted with at the library!

PBS Kids and Sesame Street are also excellent for higher quality kids apps. Keep in mind that some of these cost a small fee, though many are free. Here are some free standouts from their collections.

  • PBS Play and Learn Science - This bilingual English/Spanish app offers intriguing games that build scientific inquiry skills and can translate to at-home experimentation. The app also provides tips for parents. (Available for Android and iOS)
  • Breathe, Think, Do - We could all use a little mindfulness right now! This bilingual English/Spanish app helps kids slow down, breathe, and think in order to tackle problems critically. (Available for Android, and iOS)
  • Molly of Denali - based on the thoughtfully crafted show about a 10-year-old Alaska Native girl, this app allows users to interact with Molly's world through various activities and environments. (Available for Android and iOS)

We've shared a few apps to start with, but what are some tips for selecting others for your family? At Denver Public Library, we use criteria from Never Shushed and the Kids Inclusive and Diverse Media Project to curate our children's iPads. We've boiled down a few tips below to help you navigate the array of choices.

Does the app:

  • Engage fine motor skills beyond poking and tapping?
  • Provide engaging, fun, and accurate content?
  • Offer a glitch-free experience with well-designed graphics and sound?
  • Feature a diversity of human experiences?
  • Offer an ad-free experience or minimal ads?
  • Protect your child's privacy and user data?
  • Offer options for languages other than English?

We wish you and your family a fun, safe, and enriching exploration of the world of children's apps!

Written by Carrie on March 24, 2020
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