Tablets provide endless entertainment and education options for kids – as long as you choose the right apps! With so many to pick from, finding games that are both fun AND beneficial can be tricky. In this article, we’ll explore the key benefits of gaming apps for children and review the top 5 that are sure to delight and develop your kids.
First, let’s look at why gaming apps can be great tools for young learners when used appropriately.
Quality games encourage kids to solve problems, think strategically, and focus their concentration as they navigate challenges. Matching games, for example, strengthen cognitive skills like pattern recognition. Building games exercise spatial skills as kids design structures to meet certain criteria. These skills provide a foundation for logical thinking and reasoning down the road.
Motor Skill Development
Gaming apps allow kids to practice eye-hand coordination, dexterity, and quick reflexes. Tracing letters and shapes on the screen with their finger builds fine motor control. Tilting tablets side to side in a racing app develops gross motor skills. Mastering these physical abilities now enables more complex skills later on.
Literacy and Math Skills
Seeking out apps that target early reading, writing, and math competencies can give kids a boost in these critical areas. Phonics games teach letter recognition, spelling, and sound manipulation skills. Apps that have kids trace numbers, solve math puzzles, and engage with shapes reinforce numeracy concepts.
Some apps are designed like digital playgrounds where kids can design buildings, characters, vehicles, and more. As they imagine, create, and experiment, they stretch their creativity in fun ways. Drawing, music, and even basic coding apps also allow kids to create their own digital masterpieces.
Gaming apps present challenges that require persistence and resilience to master. Sticking with games helps kids learn to cope with minor frustrations, control their emotions, and develop self-confidence. Fun social gaming options also allow kids to take turns, cooperate, and communicate respectfully with peers.
Fun and Engagement
Most importantly, interactive gaming apps entertain and engage kids – which makes them want to continue learning through play! Finding options they genuinely enjoy ensures you get the most value from kids’ screen time.
So how do you select the best gaming apps from the thousands out there? Here are some helpful tips for choosing wisely:
- Check age ratings and descriptions to ensure the content and complexity is appropriate for your child. Many apps provide ratings like “Best for Ages 5-8” for guidance.
- Look for apps that limit in-app purchases. Accessible purchases while playing can lead to unwanted costs. Setting passwords can help protect against this.
- Select games with little or no advertising. Ads can be distracting and even expose kids to inappropriate content. Prioritize apps that limit commercials.
- Look to teachers and experts for recommendations based on your child’s age and skill needs. Common Sense Media is one trusted source for app reviews.
- Read parent reviews to learn about other kids’ experiences with the app and their feedback on content and features. Watch for consistent complaints about things like bugs.
- Try playing the game yourself first to get a feel for how it works, the content style, and how challenging it seems for your child.
- Set limits on game time to encourage a healthy mix of digital play with outdoor play, reading, and family time.
With these tips in mind, here are 5 top-rated gaming apps to engage your kids while helping them learn!
1. Osmo Games
Osmo gaming kits combine interactive iPad apps with hands-on physical games that bring iPad play to life in creative ways. While they require purchase of the Osmo base and game pieces, the quality is worth the investment.
Ages: Physical games are best for ages 5-12. Apps are adaptable for ages 2-12.
Skill Focus: Problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, social-emotional skills, STEM & literacy concepts.
Features: Osmo has a range of game options including spelling puzzles, math challenges, and creative drawing tools. Kids snap plastic pieces together, arrange colored tiles, or hold game boards and cards in front of their iPad camera which interacts with the app. This brings hands-on play and digital gaming together in one.
Parental Controls: Parents can set time limits and require approval for purchases. Osmo products are all ad-free.
Why Kids Love It: Osmo games feel like playing with toys while presenting interactive challenges. They can play independently or team up with siblings and parents for family game time.
Pros: seamless app and physical game integration, adaptable gameplay, fun social options, educational content.
Cons: Requires buying the base kit plus individual game pieces, best for ages 5+
2. Endless Alphabet
If you have an emerging reader or writer, Endless Alphabet provides an invaluable introduction to the building blocks of literacy. Kids will be entranced by the charming monsters who guide them through interactive alphabet games.
Ages: Best for 3-6
Skill Focus: Letter recognition, phonics, spelling, vocabulary
Features: Kids feed letters to amusing monsters who then poop them out transformed into various ever-changing objects. Each word’s definition and phonetics are narrated as kids learn to construct words using alphabet tiles. A calm background track helps focus attention.
Parental Controls: Parents can disable in-app purchases.
Why Kids Love It: The silly monster animations and poop/food humor appeal to little ones while they learn. The sounds, colors, and interactive features hold their interest.
Pros: Dynamic and multi-sensory phonics practice. Reinforces connections between letters, sounds, and words.
Cons: Some kids get distracted trying to create nonsense words. Content more limited once kids master basics.
3. DragonBox Elements
This beautifully designed app transforms math into a game of capturing cute creatures and gaining power-ups in a magical landscape. Don’t be fooled by its playful look though – DragonBox Elements packs a serious math punch!
Ages: Best for ages 5-12
Skill Focus: Arithmetic, fractions, factors, multiples, algebra, geometry, statistics
Features: Kids navigate an immersive map-based world gaining math skills that allow them to unlock new areas, gather resources, and capture quirky creatures. The game deftly combines math mastery with role play strategy.
Parental Controls: Settings allow parents to restrict in-app purchases.
Why Kids Love It: It takes math exercises kids often find repetitive or boring and embeds them into an exciting,reward-driven game world. The eye-catching design pulls even math-phobes into playing.
Pros: Makes fundamental math skills fun by fusing them with gameplay. Adapts complexity to child’s level.
Cons: While engaging, it omits the concrete math manipulations (like blocks) some kids still need. Complex storytelling distracts some.
4. Pluralsight Scratch Jr.
For budding coders, Pluralsight Scratch Jr. provides an easy introduction to basic programming concepts without needing to know how to read or write. Budding techies will have fun making characters move and jump as they learn!
Ages: Best for 5-7 year olds
Skill Focus: Early coding & programming, critical thinking, sequencing
Features: Kids snap together simple programming blocks to make characters move, speak, and interact in short animations they dream up. With minimal reading needed, it teaches coding logic like sequences, loops, conditionals in a concrete way.
Parental Controls: Gives parents ability to disable in-app purchases and ads.
Why Kids Love It: It allows them to bring their own creative ideas and stories to life through simple coding they can master. Seeing their characters animated fosters a sense of empowerment.
Pros: Screen-free programming interface avoids language barriers. Visual style and characters appeal to young kids. Teaches coding basics without complexity.
Cons: Possibilities are limited compared to text-based coding for older kids. Programming capabilities may outgrow the app’s offerings after a short time.
5. Teach Your Monster to Read
For a phenomenally successful reading app, look no further than Teach Your Monster to Read. This award-winning phonics-based program combines interactive lessons with monster-themed games and rewards to make learning to read irresistibly fun.
Ages: Best for 4-6 year olds
Skill Focus: Phonics, reading comprehension, vocabulary, fluency
Features: Kids create cute monster avatars then complete various games focused on phonics skills like letter sounds, short vowels, consonant blends, word building, reading full sentences and stories. Activities get progressively more challenging as kids advance.
Parental Controls: Parents can disable chat features as well as in-app purchases.
Why Kids Love It: Kids can personalize their own monster which says their name and gives them encouragement, making lessons feel tailored to them. Fun games keep motivation high.
Pros: Appealing reward-based system fosters a sense of achievement. Covers the complete early reading curriculum. Customizes experiences to child’s level.
Cons: Games focus on reading only, not writing or spelling. Some kids get obsessive about earning all rewards quickly.
Got a tablet? Load up a few of these top-rated apps for endless educational entertainment kids will love. With such engaging options available, gaming doesn’t have to mean mindless screen time. It can be an exciting pathway for growing young minds if you choose the right balance of fun and enriching content.
Empower your child to keep learning through playtime with these gaming apps that sneak in skills for school and life. With the right tools, tablets can be powerful launchpads into imagination, creativity and academic milestones like reading. Build your child’s skills the fun way and watch their confidence soar!