Taps for Tots: Our Favorite Apps for Kids
From ballerinas to outer space, let your child's interests guide their play
We all need an “electronic babysitter” every now and then—something to keep kids happily entranced when traffic is jammed, the dentist is behind schedule, or dinner is still cookin’ away. In the days of yesteryear, the Walkman, Gameboy, and smart phones filled this void, but the iPad has provided a much sleeker, and educationally effective alternative (studies show it fosters kinesthetic learning). Here, Elizabeth Street explores all different kinds of apps, so whether your child is two-years-old or eight, a prima ballerina or an aspiring entomologist, we’ve got you covered. So get tapping! —Lucie Alig
FOR KIDS WHO LOVE MUSIC
Ages 1 and up
Your little one may be 20 years away from club hopping, but that’s not to say they won’t love mixing up beats with this easy-to-tap turntable. The interface is suitable for even the youngest of kids (it was designed with one-year-olds in mind), and everyone will love the animal-adorned, spinning discs. Best of all—tracks are recordable, and can be played back infinitely. Family dance party, anyone?
FOR KIDS WHO LOVE INSECTS
Miss Spider’s Bedtime Story
Every little one has a bedtime routine, and Miss Spider’s bug-a-boos are no exception. Adapted from David Kirk’s beloved children’s book, Miss Spider’s Bedtime Story, the iPad version is optimized for the tablet with lulling music, narrated verse, animated hotspots, an interactive flower web, and other engaging add-ons developed by Callaway Digital Arts—the company behind the chart-topping Monster at the End of This Book for iPad.
FOR KIDS WHO LOVE BALLET
Angelina Ballerina’s New Ballet Teacher
Read and dance along with Angelina Ballerina as she learns the merits of open-mindedness in this heartfelt, interactive storybook. Users can color, do puzzles, and interact with animations to their hearts’ content—and learn about grand jetés and pirouettes along the way. What’s more, the app comes with integrated Angelina music videos that are perfect for entertaining several little ones at once.
FOR KIDS WHO LOVE OUTERSPACE
Ages 5 and up
$4.99 for iPad, $2.99 for iPhone
When it comes to extraterrestrial apps, Make a Martian for iPhone may be the best time-killer (think endless combinations of otherworldly eyes, fangs, wings, and ears) but for a true astronomical adventure, nothing beats Star Walk. The built-in GPS finds and uses your current location, so by angling your device up towards the sky, the app will track all constellations, planets, and stars that are within eyeshot. Watch your backyard trampoline transform into Orion’s Belt!
FOR KIDS WHO LOVE THEIR PETS
There’s no reason to lament the Tamagotchis in the basement now that Pet Playpen is around! Your kids will love playing with, feeding, and grooming critters—their choice between bunnies, dogs, pet rocks, and more. Best of all, caretakers will learn about responsibility, attentiveness, and resourcefulness through this darling yet straightforward functionality.
Photo courtesy of: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images