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 Dell.com/tablets for details.