Parent picks: Top 9 tablet apps for children

Our suggestions are designed for fun — and some learning, too.

Developers have created apps that are appropriate for toddlers. Credit: EdBockStock

Developers have created apps that are appropriate for toddlers. Credit: EdBockStock

Ratings and online testimonials aside, parents are ultimately the best judges of the tablet apps that hold their child’s attention. Commonalities include some combination of great graphics, interactivity, a learning component and uniqueness.

These are apps that “get” kids and the way they really like to play, learn and explore. All of our recommendations have been suggested by parents for ultimate kid enjoyment.

1. Bakery Story: Kids love virtual online worlds. They also love sweets. Combine the two and you get a game in which users get to design and build a bakery — and then show it off on social media. Free.

2. Smiling Mind: Smiling Mind is a mindfulness and meditation app designed for young people ages 7 to 18 developed by a team of psychologists. Users begin by answering simple questions about their current emotional state and are led through a series of meditation exercises to bring calmness and clarity. Free.

3. Minecraft: It’s no secret that Minecraft is hugely popular with kids. The combination building-and-adventure game lets kids’ imaginations run wild. The pocket edition includes textures and colors taken from the PC version, new crops and food, improved lighting, fog effects and more. $6.99.

4. Endless Alphabet: Created by the team behind Sesame Street’s Monster at the End of This Book, Endless Alphabet is the perfect merging of learning and fun. Kids learn ABCs and vocabulary through interactive puzzles and animations full of delightful monsters, sounds and letters that come to life. $6.99.

5. Cut the Rope: An addictive little monster with an appetite for candy explores different worlds. Players collect gold stars, discover hidden prizes and unlock exciting new levels in this award-winning game that teaches physics while prioritizing fun. 99 cents.

6. Heroes of the City: This interactive app has toddler-approved movies featuring Paulie Police Car and Fiona Fire Engine and their attempts to help people and solve mysteries. The content, based on the popular television series of the same name, includes six hours of movies and nine games. Free.

7. Stack the States: Kids quickly become hooked on Stack the States, a simple multiple-choice game meant to teach them about state flags, capitals and locations. Players unlock bonus games as they complete levels. 99 cents.

8. Plants vs. Zombies: Zombie-zapping plants are the arsenal to ward off zombies in this multiple award-winning game that features 50 levels, sharp graphics and some truly weird-looking ghouls. 99 cents.

9. NFL Play 60: This app works similar to the well-loved Temple Run, but requires kids to actually get up and move in order for their character to progress. Run, jump and turn and the character does the same, allowing users to unlock characters, collect coins and “buy” NFL gear. The app was created by the American Heart Association in conjunction with the National Football League. Free.

These apps run on tablets powered by Windows 8.1 and Android, including Dell Venue devices. Check out for details.

Brita Belli
Brita Belli is an award-winning journalist and author of the book "The Autism Puzzle: Connecting the Dots Between Environmental Toxins and Rising Autism Rates." Her articles have appeared on and the websites of The New York Times and National Geographic.
Brita Belli
Tags: Downtime,Mobile Apps
  • jojowa

    this says apps for kids. it should apps for toddlers. it has nothing my ten year old kid would enjoy. get your titles correct.

    • Bensonh

      Jojowa.. Minecraft? for toddlers? I play minecraft and I am 42.

      • Ann Brutus

        my brother let his 8 year old daughter play minecraft until she spent $1000 on his credit card in game credits! parents should be warned; this game is not for kids!

        • JustWondering

          What? No! My 8-year-old son plays Minecraft, and there are NO in-game costs. Obviously you have it confused with something else.

    • Julie Thomas

      My 9 year old son loves stack the states. Definitely not for a toddler.