Posts Tagged With ‘kids apps’

Best Christmas and Holiday Apps for Kids


By Jinny Gudmundsen

December 20, 2017

Looking for a way to enhance your child’s holiday experience? There are a lot of apps that can add pizzazz to the holidays, whether it be by reading and playing in classic holiday stories, discovering festive games, or exploring holiday-themed creativity projects.

Check out our list of Fun Christmas & Holiday Apps.

POKEMON GO – Parents Guide

by Jinny Gudmundsen

August 2, 2016

The app Pokémon Go is sweeping the country and is already the number one free app on both Apple and Android devices.  As the “hot new thing,” Pokémon Go is an app your kids are going to want to play. Since it wasn’t built for young kids (you need to be age 13 to sign up to play or else come in under a parental account), it creates risks parents need to manage.

I just wrote article for USA Today about what parents need to know about this app and how they can best protect their children while they are playing it. You can read my USA Today column entitled “5 Tips for Parents of Pokémon Go Kids” by clicking here.

After talking about the risks of your kids trespassing, talking to strangers, running up expenses using in-app purchases, walking distractedly, and becoming addicted to this game, I end the article on a positive note:

“With Pokémon Go, the good sides of the game outweigh the bad, as we all need more exercise, serendipity, and connection to others.”

But please check out my advice about how to deal with the risks before sending your kids out to snag Pokémon as they attempt to “Catch ’em all!”



Best Book Apps to Hook Kids on Reading

Sprinkle your reading with digital fairy dust!

March 17, 2016
by Jinny Gudmundsen, Editor Tech with Kids

Best Book Apps to Hook Kids on Reading

With March being National Reading Month, this is the perfect time to focus on reading with kids. Story times are a great way to connect with children and instill in them a love of reading; and that is true regardless of whether you are a parent, librarian, grandparent, teacher, or other childcare provider.

The key to a memorable story time is a good book. But good books no longer have to be read in a paper format. Sometimes it is easier to access a book on your phone or tablet. And when you do, you will find lots of book apps that are created to be read only on digital platforms. They are filled with bells and whistles that make story time special.

To help you find the best books apps to share with the kids in your life, we have read hundreds, rated and reviewed the best, and then sorted them into several kinds of book app recommendation lists. Here are nine different lists, showcasing over 75 top book apps:

1. Classic Books as Apps 

(click here to see the complete list)

Adults, if you want to share stories you grew up with or already know because they started as paper books, this is the list for you. It contains 16 book apps, including:

The Monster at the End of This Book icon

The Monster at the End of this Book…starring Grover!: Hilarious Grover monster of Sesame Street fame is at his paranoid best in the digital version of the classic book, The Monster at the End of this Book! Plus, the book app version makes your child’s participation even more compelling, since the reader are actively undoing all of Grover’s plans to keep the pages from turning. To read the full review, click here.

Moo, Baa, La La La! iconMoo, Baa, La La La! – Sandra Boynton: A darling, whimsical barnyard romp where toddlers get to interact with hilarious animals. Get more details in our review by clicking here.




2. Book Apps Starring Imaginative Kids

(click here to see complete list)

The 10 books on this list inspire kids to dream big, and include:

Leonard iconLeonard, a book app about a little boy whose imagination takes him on exciting adventures in his own backyard. To read the full review, click here.




Dragon Brush iconDragon Brush, a book app about a plucky young artist who saves his town from an evil ruler by using his imagination and a magical paintbrush. Things he imagines and then draws, come to life! To read our full review, click here.



Kalley's Machine Plus Cats iconKalley’s Machine Plus Cats, a highly creative app about a fantastical machine designed by a little girl. Click here to read the full review.




3. Best Nonfiction Book Apps for Kids

(click here to see the complete list)

Nonfiction book apps can open kids minds to broader horizons. You will find eight treasures on our rec list, including apps such as:

Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night iconBats! Furry Fliers of the Night: This book app transports your child into the woods at night to learn about bats and even play a game of controlling one as it flies. To read our full review of this app, click here.




Ocean Forests iconOcean Forests: Kids swim in the ocean within a giant kelp forest to learn about its inhabitants in this book app filled with interactive videos. To learn more about this app, click here.




4. Best Bedtime Story Apps

(click here to see the complete list)

With these storybook apps, bedtime reading still means cuddling up together, but now the book has interactivity and great animation. All 10 book apps on this list are special. You might start with:

Nighty Night! iconNighty Night: Kids help farm animals settle in for the night. See our full review of this fabulous app by clicking here.




The Going to Bed Book iconThe Going to Bed Book: Adapted from Sandra Boynton’s beloved board book, this charming app about 10 animals going to bed captivates kids by including them in the silly late-night shenanigans. To read our full review, click here.



Leah and The Owl iconLeah & The Owl: A magical story about a little girl and her friend The Owl as they travel the world at night. Click here to read our full review.




5. Fantastic Fairy Tale Apps

(click here to see the complete list)

The nine apps on this list are the best of the best in fairy tales. Don’t miss the newest one:

Goldilocks and Little Bear iconGoldilocks and Little Bear by Nosy Crow: This innovative tale has kids flipping their device upside down to hear parallel stories, one about Goldilocks and one about Little Bear, the youngest member of the bear family whose house Goldilocks is ransacking! To read our full review, click here.


6. Children’s Library Apps

(click here to see the complete list)

Do you wonder how to carry a library of kids’ books on your device? You can with the five apps on this rec list!

If you are going on a trip or have an avid reader, downloading a library app is a great way to have access to hundreds of books. One of our favorite library apps is:

Reading Rainbow Skybrary iconReading Rainbow Skybrary: With consummate storyteller LeVar Burton at its helm, this library app presents exciting stories with professional narration. The library contains over 500 books and also houses more than 200 field-trip videos — many featuring the beloved LeVar Burton, the host of the TV show upon which the app is based. Click here to read our full review.


7. Spooky Story Apps for Kids

(click here to see the complete list)

If your kids love doors that creak, things that go bump in the night, and ghosts that scare, this rec list should be your first stop. Filled with six spooky-but-not-too-scary book apps, each tells a fun story that has some eerie elements, but none will frighten kids too much. Don’t miss:

Weirdwood Manor iconWeirdwood Manor: A captivating fantasy read told across five books that can be downloaded from within this app. In addition to a great story, the app is filled with movie-like animation and interactive puzzles. Read more of our review here.



Loose Strands iconLoose Strands: An exciting choose-your-own-adventure book where kids can see the branching of the story with each decision. For older kids, this masterfully designed non-linear book delivers a powerful story about censorship, abuse of power, and the role of regret. Read more of the review here.


8. 10 Story Time Apps for Librarians (and Parents too!)

(click here to see the complete list)

This list of 10 apps showcases some of our all-time favorites, including:

Billy's Coin Visits the Zoo iconBilly’s Coin Visits the Zoo: This jaunty zoo romp delivers a delightful rhyming story filled with hand-sewn illustrations and charming animations and interactions. Read more of our review here.




My Beastly ABCs iconMy Beastly ABCs: Friendly monsters and the award-winning voice of Jim Dale combine to create a fun-filled story about monsters for every letter of the alphabet. For more information about this app, read our review here.



9. Hook Boys on Books with These Apps

(click here to see the complete list)

Four of the five book apps on this list star little boys having rollicking adventures. Some of the apps even embed games within their narrative. They are all outstanding. Don’t miss:

Jack and the Beanstalk iconJack and the Beanstalk by Nosy Crow: This beautiful, interactive book app is revolutionary in the way it combines reading and gaming to attract hesitant readers — especially little boys who will identify with the lead character of Jack. See more here.


Pete's Robot iconPete’s Robot: A funny, high energy story about a little boy who builds a malfunctioning robot. Read more about the app here.


An Awesome Digital Advent Calendar to Enhance Your Holidays

By Jinny Gudmundsen, Editor of Tech with Kids Magazine

The first of December is always a big day in our household, because it means we can start our yearly tradition of opening the first day to our Advent Calendar. Over the years, the various cardboard lift-the-flap versions inevitably wear out, so I am constantly on the lookout for a new one.

For the past several years, I have been looking for a digital version that was not commercial but was special in what it offered as each day’s surprise. I had not been able to find one I could recommend — until this year. Thanks to a Twitter follower’s suggestion, I checked out Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar. It has everything I had been looking for in a digital advent calendar, with a nice combination of delightful animated scenes accompanied with nostalgic holiday music, art activities, and interactive games. Jacquie Lawson is a brilliant illustrator and animator, and her site is one of the best for beautiful e-cards.

Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar

The theme of this year’s Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar is a Victorian town at Christmas.


Charming Daily Surprises

So far, I have been charmed by every daily surprise presented in this digital advent calendar. Here is what I have experienced so far:

Day 1: Watch a band assemble in a holiday-festooned Gazebo for impromptu concert. This is an advent calendar’s version of a flash mob.



Day 2: I loved how the calendar invited me to add some color to the constantly changing city scene by designing my own stained-glass window for one of the town’s buildings.



Day 3: See an animated scene unfold where a bicycle-riding postman mixes up his delivery by dropping a package, and a cute dog saves the day.


Day 4: Play a game involving matching colored ornaments. The ornaments are beautiful to look at, and this variation of a match-three game works well in this 10-level game.


Day 5: Listen to a quintet of teddy bears playing string instruments.


Day 6: Watch as Christmas carolers sneakily assemble on a doorstep, with a new one appearing each time a person or a vehicle passes by.

Jacquie-Lawson-Carolers1 Jacquie-Lawson-Carolers2


Day 7: Peek in on a hilarious scene inside of a hat shop where a fussy feline fashionista directs her owner’s selection of a new hat.

Jacquie-Lawson-Hatstore1 Jacquie-Lawson-Hatstore2


Day 8: Be entertained by a vignette involving two dogs uniting at a train station.


Day 9: Create your own Christmas Card to appear in the stationery store’s window.

Jacquie-Lawson-Advent-2015-screenshot3 Jacquie-Lawson-Advent-2015-screenshot4

Day 10: Observe an adorable animated scene about how animals help a little girl to reach the letterbox so she can mail her Christmas card.


Day 11: Visit an art emporium and see reproductions of famous artwork depicting winter scenes.


Day 12: Contribute to the townscape by decorating a hot air balloon that you see lazily gliding over the town.



How to Download This Advent Calendar

This delightful Advent Calendar can be downloaded on the Jacquie Lawson website for $4.00. The site offers a discount for pricing if you buy more than one, making this a great gift to send all of the kids on your Christmas list.

I had a terrific experience when playing it via a browser on an iPad or from a computer. But when I tried to download the file to my computer, it didn’t work for me on either my Windows 10 or iMac since it comes in an “.air” format. I would encourage you to go the browser route.

More Holiday Fun with Apps

For more holiday fun with apps, check out this rec list:



Fun Christmas & Holiday Apps for Kids




You might also want to check out DAY 8 of the 31 Days of Play found on the Toca Boca site. I wrote that article about using holiday apps with your kids.


Best Halloween Apps for Kids

SagoMiniMonsters1-175x175 SagoMiniMonsters2-175x175SagoMiniMonsters4-175x175


By Jinny Gudmundsen, Editor of Tech with Kids

Downloading good Halloween apps is an easy way to set a spooky — but not too scary — mood for the upcoming holiday. Ghosts, werewolves, zombies, witches, beasts, and other things that go bump in the night — we got them all featured on our rec list:

Halloween Apps for Kids

While we love all the apps on this list, some stand out because they are so creative and different. Here are a few we want to draw your attention to:



This app is special because kids get to have hilarious conversations with 5 famous “scaracters”: Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, a witch, a ghost, and a werewolf. What makes it fun is that each of the scary characters needs your child’s help. Read our review here.



Mask-Jumble-Halloween-Icon Mask Jumble Halloween

One of the cleverest Halloween apps, Mask Jumble Halloween turns your phone or  tablet into a dress-up mirror. Your child sees his or her image reflected on the screen. By  tapping on her virtual nose, chin, ears, and forehead, your child can make mask parts  magically appear. With just a few taps, children can see themselves as a witch,  Frankenstein, and so much more. Read our review here.


Haunted-House-3D-iconHaunted House – 3D Pop-up Activity Book

Presented in the format of a 3D pop-up book, kids play with an adorable group of Halloween characters — including a zombie, a skeleton, a Frankenstein monster, a witch, ghosts and more. Read our review here.



SagoMiniMonsters-IconSago Mini Monsters

We love this decorate-a-monster app because it puts kids in charge of designing their own spooky pal. The process of decorating is so simple that a two-year old can do it, but the result is so visually pleasing that a 5-year old will also want in on the monster designing. Read our review here.



Plants-vs-ZombiesHD-iconPlants vs Zombies HD

If your kids have yet to experience Plants vs. Zombies, Halloween is the perfect time to introduce this app about fighting zombies who are trying to invade your home. In this tower defense game, you fend off the always-silly-never-scary undead by planting cute and funny zombie-killing plants in your front yard. This award-winning strategy game is great, even for kids who think they don’t like zombies, because it’s so hilarious to explore. Fighting the undead has never been so much fun! Read our full review here.

Parents, don’t be lured into selecting the newer and free version called Plants vs Zombies 2. In this situation, newer is not better. Plants vs Zombies 2 is a freemium game where your kids will always be asking you to dip into your wallet to spend more. The first app, while a paid app, provides a better, robust play experience for kids.

We have two other Best Pick Rec Lists that might be of interest:

Want to Teach Your Child the ABCs? There’s an App for That!

In the old days, we used flashcards to teach ABCs — now there are apps! With apps, the alphabet learning becomes interactive, animated, and personal to your child. In other words: exciting!

Here’s a list for the top ABC apps:



Adorable Elmo serves as your child’s cheerleader while he or she explores the letters of the alphabet. Kids will trace the letters, learn their beginning sounds, and play games with the letters. Elmo energizes the learning with his silly antics.



When each letter of the alphabet is introduced, kids get to play a game that reinforces the letter sounds. They will build a robot with the letter “R” and kick the soccer ball with the letter “K.” This app turns learning the alphabet into hands-on learning.

AlphaTots Screen 2


This app takes kids on a bike ride to find the hiding letters of the alphabet. At 26 different locations, kids first find the hidden letter and then enjoy silly antics with it, such as jumping on jiggling jelly!



Puzzle play is what sets this ABC app apart from the others. Each letter has a fun puzzle that kids put together.



This ABC app is the most visually exciting of the ones on this list. It mesmerizes children (and adults) with its dazzling transformations and intriguing animations. Each touch of a letter produces something new. Don’t miss this one.



Silly monsters act out the meaning of words that start with the letters of the alphabet. The animations are great and hilarious.



My Beastly ABCs uses mythical creatures and beasts to demonstrate each letter of the alphabet. Told in a book app format, this tale about a timid boy playing with monsters is told by the master narrator Jim Dale of Harry Potter fame!





Editor Jinny Gudmundsen Talks Best Kid Apps with NPR’s All Sides With Ann Fisher

JinnyBio2TWK2014On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, our Editor Jinny Gudmundsen spoke on the NPR radio show All Sides with Ann Fisher. Jinny and host Ann had a lively discussion about the pitfalls of freemium apps and how to find the best apps for kids.

Jinny then shared the details about four of the top apps for kids.


The apps discussed were:

Elmo-Loves-You-iconElmo Loves You

A preschool app where kids snuggle up with Elmo to learn the meaning of love.

To read our full review, click here


Peg-Cat-icon175x175Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem

Peg and her pet Cat provide hilarious situations for kids to use logical thinking and math in rescuing the tree-climbing feline. –

To read our full review, click here


Kalleys-Machine-icon175x175Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats

An outrageously inventive story app where kids get hands-on time with a fantastical food-making machine. 

To read our full review, click here



Hoopa City

An adorable and easy city-building sim that rewards exploration.

To read our full review, click here



To listen to Jinny talking on Ann Fisher’s NPR show, click here.



As the year draws to the close, we here at Tech With Kids have been busy compiling our BEST of the BEST lists. We review children’s tech products all year long, and post reviews of the ones that represent the best the industry has to offer or those that are getting a lot of buzz.

This week we named our:

Why Updating Apps Is Important: How Hoopa City went from 4 Stars to 5 STARS!

I love it when app developers listen to reviewers and their audience to make their apps better. That is exactly what happened with Hoopa City, an app we originally rated at 4 stars. Today, we upped that rating to 5 stars and here’s why.


The original Hoopa City app was a unique city-building game where kids as young as age five could play. With seven building elements dangling at the top of the screen, kids could easily decide which element would fill a square in their city grid. The app encouraged kids to explore by having them select a second element and then re-tap a square to see it morph into something new. As a consequence, Hoopa City earned our Best Pick Award; but we held back on awarding it our top rating because there were a couple of things missing.

The missing items were:

In a recent update, TribePlay addressed both of these issues by:


Because of these updates,  we changed our rating and are now excited to award Hoopa City our top rating of 5 stars. You can read our updated Hoopa City app review here.

Congratulations to the development team at TribePlay!

NPR’s Ann Fisher Talks Learning Apps with Jinny Gudmundsen

Jinny Profile2 2014Our Editor, Jinny Gudmundsen, was a guest on the NPR show All Sides with Ann Fisher on November 4, 2014 to talk about the best Learning Apps for Kids. If you want to listen in, here is the link.

You can also read  reviews of the apps talked about on the radio show by checking out our Best Picks Apps List:


BacktoSchool-Image20 Terrific Back to School Apps

The apps discussed on the show were: