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Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids 2016: 47 awesome children's iOS apps

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids 2016: 47 awesome children's iOS apps

These apps promise learning, creativity and fun

What are the best iPad and iPhone apps for kids? I'm looking for something educational, but fun, too.

Put a child in the same room as an iPad or an iPhone and they will instinctively reach for it. Perhaps it's the bright colours and the feel of using a touchscreen; the simplicity of the iOS interface also plays a part. But kids love messing with smartphones and tablets.

That's great news if you want to entertain and educate your offspring. But not all apps are created equal. Some are expensive to buy or contain in-app purchases designed to tempt unwary kids. Others aren't appropriate for youngsters.

For this article we've trawled the App Store to pick out some of the favourites of our editors and their children for learning, creativity and fun. But we'd also love to know of any great apps you know for kids. Drop us a line with your recommendations in the comments below.

We've divided the list into three quite broad age groups: jump to the section you're interested in.

Best iPad & iPhone apps for kids aged 5 and under
Best iPad & iPhone apps for kids aged 6 to 8
Best iPad & iPhone apps for kids aged 9 and over

We've also compiled lists of the best iOS games, as well as the best free iOS games for the older kids (and adults) to enjoy.

Lou Hattersley, Simon Jary, Lewis Painter and Matt Egan all contributed to this article.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Ages 5 and under

We'll start with the youngest age group. Here are our recommendations for children aged 5 and under.

Age recommendations are approximate, of course, and you won't need to be told that kids learn and mature at different speeds. Check out our choices on the App Store (have a look at screenshots, any available preview videos and so on) before spending any money, to see if the difficulty, complexity and reading level are appropriate for your child.

Best iPhone and iPad apps for kids: Blackboard Madness: Math

Free (Download Blackboard Madness: Math)
Rating: 4+

Got a maths-whizz child who wants a challenge? Blackboard Madness is a set of fast-paced, quick-fire maths challenges, taking in addition, subtraction, division, multiplications, algebra, and > (more than) and < (less than) questions.

Blackboard Madness Maths app

This is a great test of mental maths skills, logic thinking and reaction. It's like Live Mathletics on speed. You have to slash the correct answers before they drop off the blackboard. There are kung fu sound effects to make you feel like a martial arts maths black belt. Don't give this to a child just strating out on maths as the pace is pretty frenetic, but mental maths reaction speed is a great skill to teach more experineced maths students.

As with any decent challenge game there are high scores and player statistics to track performance, polus achievements and badges as rewards.

Blackboard Madness Maths app badges

We enjoyed Blackboard Madness. It's free. So why not try it?

Best iPhone and iPad apps for kids: Dino Tim

Price: Free (App Store link)
Made for ages 3-6

Dino Tim is a great way for younger children to get to grips with colours, shapes and their first words. Dino Tim's family has been abducted by witches, and kids have to solve various educational puzzles in order to save them. The game involves solving colour and geometric shape puzzles, as well as running, flying, jumping and even a little bit of magic.

The aim of the game is to teach kids to recognise basic geometric shapes, as well as to learn about colours and even their first words. The game has been fully translated into a number of languages (French, Spanish and Italian to list a few) which provides your child with a great opportunity to learn a forign language in a fun way, from a young age.

Best iPhone and iPad apps for kids: Doodle Critter Math: Shapes

Price: £2.29 (App Store Link)
Rated: 4+

Doodle Critter Math: Shapes teaches your children basic shapes such as triangle, rectangle, square, hexagon and circle. Kids learn to draw different shapes by touching the 'critters' (small animals). A range of tasks including sorting, matching and memory games, make learning fun. Doodle Critter Math is designed for kids aged three to five and is another great way that young children can use the technology on the iPad to learn basic skills.

Doodle Critter Math Shapes

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Elephant Art! Painting Room

Price: Free/£2.29 (Download Elephant Art! Painting Room)
Made for 5 and under

It's immediately clear this isn't a typical art app when you prod a button and an elephant's massive foot crushes a banana, splattering it across a canvas on the wall. Further buttons provide additional destructive capabilities, obliterating all manner of household objects that magically become transformed into paint and flung at the artwork, creating a kind of abstract masterpiece.

It's all very silly and a world away from virtual crayons, but the developer notes that is the point. Elephant Art isn't about recreating the real world, but celebrating colours, magic and art.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Endless Alphabet

Price: £4.99 (Download Endless Alphabet)
Made for 5 and under

Although more conventional than Metamorphabet, listed elsewhere in this feature, Endless Alphabet proves that dialling down the surreal doesn't mean an app about letters has to be boring. On the contrary, Endless Alphabet is a lot of fun as you choose a word, watch the letters scatter, and drag them back into place.

The letters come to life when touched, wriggling under your fingers (doubly so when using Force Touch on a modern iPhone), and once the word is complete, you're treated to a little animation that explains what the word means.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Intro to Colors (Montessorium)

Price: £3.99 (App Store Link)
Made for Ages 5 and under

With Intro to Colors, your child learns the basics of colours through a series of matching games. So it starts out white matching red, blue and yellow before moving on to secondary levels and gradients. Kids learn to mix and match paint to create colours, as well as how to learn to spot and name different colours.

Intro to Colors is a pretty app, which is one reason we like it. But Intro To Colors is designed to appear to children aged five and under and we think Intro to Colors a great app that makes use of the iPad to deliver something they would not get from other more traditional means.

Intro to Colors

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: LEGO DUPLO Train

FREE (App Store link)
Ages 5 and under

Your toddler will love to drive a colourful LEGO DUPLO Train from station to station. Choosing and loading wagons, building bridges, stopping at crossings, refueling and laying new tracks around pesky rocks. A toddler's dream.

Lego Duplo Train

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Little Digits [iPad only]

Price: £2.99 (Download Little Digits)
Made for 5 and under

Back when the iPad first arrived, people were excited to learn it could in fact recognise all ten fingers touching the screen at once, yet few apps took advantage of this. Little Digits reasons that kids often count by using their fingers, and here they can do so by prodding an iPad. Every additional digit used updates the on-screen number accordingly (numbers here being represented by inventive, colourful beasts); and once everyone's familiar with how the app works, there are basic counting and maths puzzles to try.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Mathletics Student [iPad only]

Free. Requires annual subscription (Download Mathletics Student)
Rating: 4+

Recommended by teachers and parents is Mathletics, a subscription-based online system of maths learning.

For £39/year the child can run through adaptive-learning, level-staged maths tasks and games via computer or iPad app. Students learn at their own pace.

mathletics app kids learning math

Mathletics is fun and features a great rewards system for kids, who win Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates by scoring points in a wide range of maths questions. These questions are presented in a fun and colourful way with animations to brighten things up but also to show how to reach the correct answers. Parents will learn a thing ot two, too.

Live Mathletics sets the child up against other Mathletics players across the world, and is a great way to learn simple number bonds and increase the kids' recall speed.

Times Tables Toons helps teach children their times table through song and animal animation.

There are weekly progress emails to monitor progress via a Parent Centre.

My daughter has been using Mathletics for over a year now, and it has undoubtedly helped her with her maths, and me understanding/remembering/learning alongside her. We sit down a few times a week for short periods of time, or for one half-hour session that should be long enough for her to score her 1,000 points and earn a new certificate. She loves it, too.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Miximal

Price: £1.99 (Download Miximal)
Made for 5 and under

There's nothing especially innovative about Miximal - it's yet another of those sliding games, where you make strange combinations of animals. But what sets Miximal apart from its peers is the sense of craft and care that's gone into the app.

The style is very cartoonish, yet all of the animals are very recognisable. Each is animated, too. Tap one of the sections and it moves and jiggles. Fashion a 'complete' animal and it will offer a celebratory alternate animation. Additionally, if your child wonders at any point what strange mixed-up creature is currently on the screen, a quick tap of the play button will give you (and read out) its name.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Monster Mingle

Price: £2.99 (Download Monster Mingle)
Made for 5 and under

There's a lot to be said for exploration and play when a child is developing. Monster Mingle's free-play nature makes it ideal for such things. You create your own friendly monster by dragging parts to it that are lying about the place, and said monster can then amble about, dive into the ocean or soar into the air. The world features all kinds of strange creatures to discover and interact with, and the goal-free nature of Monster Mingle makes for a stress-free and highly entertaining time.

Best iPhone and iPad apps for kids: Monument Valley

£2.99 (App Store link)
Rated: 4+

One of the most beautiful and captivating games ever released, Monument Valley isn't cheap (for an app) at £2.99 but it will keep children and adults engaged for hours working our how to help the silent princess Ida through mysterious and mind-bending, fantastical architecture, uncovering hidden paths, unfolding Escher-like optical illusions of impossible geometry, and outsmarting the barking Crow People.

Monument Valley is both surreal and serene exploration and will surely go down in game history as one of the unique greats.

Monument Valley

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Mr Thorne's Times Table Terra; Mr Thorne's Divide + Conquer; Mr Thorne's Addition Space Station

All £1.49 (App Store links: Mr Thorne's Times Tables Terra, Mr Thorne's Divide + Conquer; Mr Thorne's Addition Space Station)
All three are available as part of the Maths Universe Bundle, which is £2.99
All for ages 4+

London teacher Christopher Thorne must be one of the coolest Sirs on the planet (although he does appear to own several pairs of Timmy Mallet-like specs), and he uses the planets as the theme for his three maths apps: Mr Thorne's Times Table Terra, Mr Thorne's Divide + Conquer, and Mr Thorne's Addition Space Station.

The apps are simple and look gorgeous - sure to be a hit with boys as well as girls.

Mr Thorne Addition Multiplication Division apps

When you score 10 out of 10 on a particular addition, times table or division test you get to keep a space station or planet, depending on the app you're using. There's a mystery challenge when you've unlocked all the tests, which is an extra incentive - and different to the Squeebles and Math Bingo reward games.

Each game has three levels: Beginner/Newcomer, First Class/Elite and World Class/Legend. The top level is going to test adults, too, so you can join in the sum fun.

Mr Thorne's Addition Space Station has 42 mental maths tests, which includes adding multiple numbers, decimals and fractions so is suitable for children aged 5-11.

Mr Thorne's Times Table Terra features 60 tests based on basic multiplication and times tables. They also feature video tutorials from Mr Thorne himself.

Mr Thorne's Divide + Conquer has 50 maths tests based on division and inverse times tables.

Mr Thorne maths apps

I recommend all the Mr Thorne maths apps, as they're simple to use, look great, and should really engage kids in these maths basics.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: My Very Hungry Caterpillar

Price: £2.99 (Download My Very Hungry Caterpillar)
Made for 5 and under

The Very Hungry Caterpillar has munched its way through countless books, a telly animation, and even the odd activities-based app. But My Very Hungry Caterpillar takes a different approach, transforming the ravenous larva's surroundings into an interactive game.

The result's not unlike a no-lose Tamagotchi, with you feeding the caterpillar, playing with it, helping it doze under a leaf, and watching it grow. Eventually, like in the original story, the caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly, at which point a new egg is laid for the adventure to begin anew.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Number Monster

£2.29 (App Store link)
Ages 5 and under

One for the very early learners, Number Monster (from Wombi) is a simple app that teaches kids to recognise numbers - from 1-20. It's friendly and easy for kids to pick up. Parents can turn on and off visual clues as their child progresses. It doesn't go much further than that so is a little expensive for what it offers.

Monster Maths and Shapes

There's also a Shape Monster games (at the time of writing this was offered for free). Like Number Monster it's easy and friendly, and can be set at different levels up to hexagons and pentagons from a start with squares and circles, etc.

Wombi also offers Colour Monster and Letter Monster apps, and a simple telling-the-time app called Around The Clock.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Nursery Rhymes

Price: £4.99 (Download Nursery Rhymes Bundle)
Made for 5 and under

This set of three apps reimagines famous nursery rhymes as tiny interactive scenes. In 'Hey Diddle Diddle', there's a fiddling cat, leaping cow, grinning moon, and crockery eloping with cutlery. Every item on the screen can be tapped to make it wobble and emit a sound effect, and the rhyme is sung through when the words are tapped. Navigation between rhymes is by way of large arrows at the top of the screen, ensuring the Nursery Rhymes collection is suitable for even very young toddlers.

Note that the three volumes are also available individually, and there are separate free versions, too. Each of those has a single unlocked rhyme, the rest being available via a single IAP.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Peek-a-Zoo

Price: £2.29 (Download Peek-a-Zoo)
Made for 5 and under

There's an elegant simplicity at the heart of Peek-a-Zoo, and it might at first appear a bit too simple. But any time spent with the app and a small child will dismiss any lingering concerns. You'll grow to love the gang of sweet cartoon animals, and the simple questions for the child to answer: Who is winking? Who is dressed up? And so on. You soon realise that although this app is very straightforward, it's cunningly teaching your child all kinds of things, from identifying animals to types of clothing and actions.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Sago Mini Babies

Price: £2.29 (Download Sago Mini Babies)
Made for 5 and under

This one's all about caring for a little Sago baby, feeding, bathing and playing with a tiny cat, rabbit or dog. There's plenty of character in evidence, whether you're making your on-screen chum grin when splashing about in the bath or glare when you splatter a load of food mush on its face. According to the developer, the familiarity of the activities will help young children better understand their world and improve nurturing behaviour; and the colourful visuals and straightforward controls should ensure it's plenty of fun for them to play.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Sago Mini Monsters

Price: £2.29 (Download Sago Mini Monsters)
Made for 5 and under

One for younger monster-creators, before working their way up to the likes of Monster Mingle or DNA Play, Sago Mini Monsters has you coax a monster from gloopy green slime. You then tap colours and paint your beast before interacting with it.

Most interaction comes in the form of feeding the monster dishes that appear, along with prodding and poking horns, eyes and mouths to change their appearance. A quick brush of the teeth and some decorations and the monster's time is done. You can then take a photo to share before starting the process again.

Best iPhone and iPad apps for kids: SquiggleFish

Price: £2.49 (App Store Link)
Rated 4+

SquiggleFish is a great way to blend the creative nature of children with the digital world. Your child will start with an empty fish tank, and they need to draw fish to fill it. Rather than drawing fish on the screen, kids are encouraged to draw fish with pen and paper. Kids then move these fish into the fish tank via the iPad's camera, and they magically come to life.

SquiggleFish is a pretty unique experience for younger children (it's rated for 4+) but you'll have fun with it no matter what your age.

SquiggleFish

Best iPhone and iPad apps for kids: Toca Band

Price: £2.49 (Download Toca Band)
Made for 5 and under

This smart, uncomplicated game is all about creating music from a band of colourful characters. You simply drag them to the stage and they get on with playing their instrument.

Move them to a spot with a different colour and they'll change what they're playing. Any character plonked in the star position (unsubtly marked with a massive yellow star) gives you the chance to explore more sounds as part of a solo performance - perfect for when you think pianist Dancy Nancy or maracas player Shaky McBones hasn't had enough of the limelight.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Sago Mini Friends

Price: Free (Download Sago Mini Friends)
Made for 5 and under

This sweet selection of mini games has you choose from one of the brightly coloured Sago characters and then embark on a series of playdates with similarly vibrant chums.

There are ten activities in all, including doing the washing up and munching your way through a selection of goodies. Characters respond appropriately, such as a disappointed look on not getting a piece of cake when someone else has been fed. Apparently, this is designed to promote empathy in children. That might sound a bit worthy, so rest assured the app's overall breezy nature is almost relentlessly charming and fun, and it's extremely generous in being free yet having no ads nor IAP whatsoever.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Shape Gurus

Price: £1.49 (Download Shape Gurus)
Made for 5 and under

In this interactive story, children are regularly challenged to complete puzzles based around shape-matching. In one case, a little bird flutters towards the outline of a nest, while five brown triangles wait to be dragged into place. Elsewhere, shape and colour matching creates flowers and a watering can. The voiceover isn't the best around, but the 27 puzzles and story should keep a child engrossed for a good while, and the journey's fun enough that it will warrant repeating a number of times.

Best iPhone and iPad apps for kids: Wee Kids Math

£1.99 (Download Wee Kids Math)
Ages 5 and under

Wee Kids Math (from Ebooks & Kids) has a whole bunch of colourful games to teach kids about numbers and basic maths. This app is good for children just starting to learn their number shapes and order (0-20), up to those starting out on addition and subtraction. It's not really for those who have grasped these concepts already.

Wee Kids Math app iPhone iPad

There's plenty of variety - and that's important when encouraging kids to like maths - and the games are simple to get the hang of despite a lack of instruction from the developers. I'd have preferred a little more help when starting the game, as you have to guess what to do on each new game.

There are many varied games to play, including all the kids favourites such as insects and other animals, and space arcade games.

One other gripe is that the number '3' in all games looks too much like an '8' on a small screen, which can be confusing. Lesson to developers: don't needlessly confuse your young users.

Wee Kids Math app iPhone iPad children

These criticisms aside Wee Kids Math is a fun addition (geddit?) to your maths app library, and teaches a lot of basic concepts in a fun and engaging way.

On the next page: Great apps for kids aged 6-8.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Ages 6 to 8

Now for some apps that are suitable for a slightly older audience. Here are our recommendations for children aged 6-8.

We'll repeat ourselves, and point out that age recommendations are approximate. Check out our choices on the App Store (have a look at screenshots, any available preview videos and so on) before spending any money, to see if the difficulty, complexity and reading level are appropriate for your child.

Best iPhone and iPad apps for kids: DNA Play

Price: £2.29 (Download DNA Play)
Made for 6-8

Any suggestion that DNA Play can teach 6-to-8-year-olds the basics behind genetics is perhaps pushing it a bit. But what this toy does allow for is the creation of almost limitless monsters.

This is achieved by completing 'DNA puzzles' (basic shape-matching) and subsequently manipulating the 'DNA' relating to a monster's limbs, torso, face and features (by dragging shapes or just prodding the relevant bits of the monster). There's also a modicum of interaction, where you can take your monster dancing and skating, and take a photo to share with friends. Smartly, the app enables you to save a monster before creating another, enabling you to revisit favourites at a later date.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Loopimal

Price: £2.49 (Download Loopimal)
Made for 6-8

The idea behind Loopimal is to teach children the basics of making music by way of a colourful and simple-to-use loop sequencer. That might sound complicated, but it really isn't. You get a bopping animal, and drag coloured shapes to a looping timeline. When the playhead moves over one of the shapes, the animal performs an animation that alters the music in some way. Once your child's figured out how it all works, you can split the screen into two or four, creating an oddball four-track menagerie-cum-band that will entertain for hours.

Best iPhone and iPad apps for kids: Math Bingo

£1.49 (Download Math Bingo)
Ages 6-8

Play the game that's all about numbers to learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide: yes, Bingo.

Math Bingo sets a bunch of questions dependent on your choice and the level of your child's maths skills. A timer ticks away so you're out to beat your personal best time each go. To start we'd advise disregarding the clock as this can put undue pressure on the child.

Math Bingo is colourful and features a collection of weird bug aliens to make maths even more fun. Kids love to win the Bingo Bugs and they can then use them in a game of Bingo Bug Bungie - a sort of pinball game where you fire your collected bugs to knockout coins to beat your highest score. It's enough to make even reluctant mathematicians have another go at multiplication!

Within Math Bingo there are now two new games you can play after completing a Bingo board: Math Stack and Math Fling.

Math Bingo learning app games

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Metamorphabet

Price: £2.99 (Download Metamorphabet)
Made for 6-8

This Apple Design Award winner transforms letters into words, often by way of surreal and frequently strange animations. If you fancy seeing a caterpillar gamely driving a car that you can fling about the screen (complete with crashing noises when it lands) or an ostrich tentatively playing with a very solid-looking orange, this is the app to buy.

For kids, it'll almost certainly captivate more than traditional fare in this space, because of its playful, interactive design. And although the app was created for the 6-to-8 age range, it's perfectly suitable for younger children (or, for that matter, much older parents).

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Squeebles Times Tables 2

£2.99 (App Store link)
Made for ages 6-8

Master the times tables with the help of Whizz, defeat the nasty Maths Monster, and collect little Squeeble characters, trophies and stars as you learn.

Like Math Bingo, Times Tables: Squeebles Multiplication is a colourful app that makes learning fun.

There's no timer so your child isn't rushed into guessing, and they'll love collecting all the game rewards. It's a great way to test kids on their multiplication and times tables.

UPDATE: There's now a new £2.99 version called Squeebles Times Tables 2, which features an expanded reward system, fun mini game, six tables modes, unlimited players and plenty of stats and reporting for parents and teachers - again thankfully without any in-app purchases or adverts. It's great for testing kids on their times tables and reqrding them for getting them right.

There are other Squeebles apps for addition, division, etc. See the Key Stage Fun Squeebles website for details of all on offer. Each of these are really worth the investment, but try out on one first to check your child finds it fun, too.

Times Tables maths app Squeebles iPhone Android

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Star Walk Kids

Price: £2.29 (Download Star Walk Kids)
Made for 6-8

There are quite a few apps that transform your iPhone or iPad into a virtual means to explore the heavens, but the interfaces can be too complex for young children. Star Walk Kids (or, to use its full and awkward SEO-oriented name, 9 Movies of Star Walk Kids - Explore Space) strips back the popular Star Walk app, simplifying how everything works, thereby optimising it for younger users.

That doesn't mean it's bereft of information, however: you can still explore the solar system's planets, constellations, the ISS and Hubble; and there are nine animated films that enable you to delve a bit deeper into the facts and figures behind some of these objects.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Toca Nature

Price: £2.49 (Download Toca Nature)
Made for 6-8

The developers of Toca Nature aim with their app to capture some of the magic of the great outdoors, and we reckon they've succeeded. You get a little square of land, raising mountains or digging rivers with a swipe of a finger. You then tap to plant trees and watch as an ecosystem comes to life.

Brilliantly, you can use a magnifying glass to explore your tiny world, collecting fruit and fish, and using them to feed the animals and birds you find. The blank canvas aspect whenever the app restarts is a pity - it would be nice to have a save slot for 'your' world, but otherwise this is one of the finest children's apps on iOS.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Weather by Tinybop

Price: £2.29 (Download Weather by Tinybop)
Made for 6-8

There's clear ambition within Tinybop apps, which try to make tricky concepts approachable through interactive models. In Weather, it's all about playing with atmospheric forces, and seeing how changes affect the environment. Each scene has a number of elements to experiment with, such as raising or lowering the temperature to see how this impacts on a glass of water or the comfort of a dog in its kennel. Elsewhere, you can zoom into a cloud and observe snow and rain forming. All this is wrapped up in an illustrative art style that's effective and approachable.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Wombi Airplane and Wombi Treasures

£2.29 (Download Wombi Airplane | Download Wombi Treasures)
Ages 6-8

Wombi Treasures is a basic but fun and graphically rich treasure hunt game for kids, available as iPad, iPhone and Android apps. It engages young children in scouring locations to find hidden artifacts, rewarding perseverance, and keeping kids gripped with their challenge. While the graphics are rich the gameplay is relatively basic but keps children excited to keep playing again and again.

Wombi Airplane

On the next page: Fantastic apps for kids aged 9 and over.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Ages 9 and over

Finally, here are our recommendations for children aged 9 and over. (Almost all of these cover the ages 9-11, but we couldn't resist including Dumb Ways To Die, below, which is for those aged 12 and over.)

Once again, we will emphasise that age recommendations are approximate. Check out our recommendations on the App Store (have a look at screenshots, any available preview videos and so on) before spending any money, to see if the difficulty, complexity and reading level are appropriate for your child.

Best iPhone and iPad apps for kids: Dumb Ways To Die

FREE (iTunes link)
Ages 12 and over

Originally conceived as a public safety animation for an Australian metro company, Dumbs Ways To Die morphed from a brilliant cartoon and maddeningly catchy tune that kids love to sing into an equally fun game of 15 potentially lethal possibilities. Kids love it and learn how not to get themselves killed at the same time.

All together now: "Set fire to your hair, Poke a stick at a grizzly bear. Eat medicine that's out of date, Use your private parts as piranha bait."

Dumb Ways to Die

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Earth Primer [iPad only]

Price: £7.99 (Download Earth Primer)
Made for 9-11

This beautifully designed app is essentially an interactive textbook, explaining how our planet works. As you leaf through the digital pages, you create volcanos and sculpt mountains, along with, of course, reading through the succinct but informative text alongside the simulations. That should be enough to keep most kids engrossed, but Earth Primer also includes a sandbox that enables you to create and shape a landscape with tools that are only unlocked as you progress through the rest of the book.

We'd say experiencing Earth Primer is reward enough, but turning a textbook into a game is a clever move if a reader needs a little extra encouragement.

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Let's Do Mental Maths

£1.99 (iTunes link)
Ages 10-11

Let's Do Mental Maths for iPhone and iPad are also recommended. They're a great way to monitor your kids' progress at maths and test most maths categories.

Andrew Brodie, educational author and former teacher, teamed up with Bloomsbury and Aimer Media to create the Let's Do Mental Maths apps; the first two of which are aimed at 6-7 and 10-11 years olds. An app for 8-9 year olds is scheduled for a summer release.

They are designed to support the latest National Curriculum requirements and have been developed alongside children in classrooms to help boost children's confidence.

Let's Do Mental Maths uses an engaging quiz format with a cartoon Digit the Dog, who can offer advice when the player gets stuck.

There are three main quiz areas:

Starter questions to warm up the kids' maths skills - a quick selection of random questions, uniquely combined every time.

Progress tests are made up of 7 sets of 20 questions to grade maths ability and track players' scores - matched to National Curriculum expected progress.

Practice quizzes consist of nine categories of practice questions: Place Value, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Fractions, Times, Measure and Shape.

There is a simple Results dashboard that includes the percentage and number of correct answers as well as the time taken to answer

The Let's Do Mental Maths apps are a nice mix of maths tasks that don't try too hard with gimmicks but still look like fun, and get children ready for their SATs. Recommended.

Let's Do Mental Maths app review

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: MathBoard

£3.99 (Download MathBoard)
Made for ages 9-11

Although more expensive than most maths apps MathBoard can be easily configured for school children of all ages, beginning with simple addition and subtraction problems, multiplication and division, and algebra.

The blackboard theme is cute, although most kids won't come anywhere a blackboard in school these days.

It is built around multiple choice but encourages working out solutions with a neat scratchboard area where pupils can chalk their sums.

MathBoard's Problem Solver walks students through the steps required to solve the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division equations. There are also quick reference tables to hand.

We especially like the configurable nature of MathBoard, where you can determine number ranges, omit negative answers, etc.
Activities and quizzes can be timed, either as a countdown timer or elapsed time.

There's a free version that tackles addition only so you can have a play before forking out for the full version. You don't need to be a maths boffin to see the value in that!

MathBoard Maths app for kids chalk blackboard

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Medieval Math Battle

Free with Addition segment; other segments 79p each (Download Medieval Math Battle)
Made for ages 9-11

Medieval Math Battle really does make maths into a game, as it is a turn-based battle game where you defeat your opponents (villains, giant spiders, goblins, dragons, etc) by answering questions based on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division).

Medieval Math Battle app game

The maths problems increase in difficulty as the child improves their skills.

As you win battles you earn coins, potions and weapons. You can use the coins to buy new swords and shields and so forth. If the child plays for 15 minutes there's a special daily bonus.

Medieval Math Battle shoppe

Medieval Math Battle is free, and comes with the Addition part of the game, but each extra maths type (subtraction, multiplication, division) costs 69p to unlock. So the full cost of everything is £2.07.

Apart from the sections to unlock there aren't any other nasty in-app purchases in the game.

Medieval Math Battle is a great idea, and sure to be a hit with kids. It would be nice if the player could be a girl as well as a boy, and the action could be a little faster, but we liked the game and recommend it.

Best iPhone and iPad apps for kids: Minion Rush

FREE (App Store link)
Rated 9+ ("Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humour")

You love Despicable Me, right? Minion Rush is a great action arcade game where the little yellow Minions jump, fly, dodge obstacles, collect bananas, ride the Fluffy Unicorn, and defeat villains in a variety of different missions. You can customise your Minion with costumes, weapons, and power-ups. Earning new locations and different Minions makes this free game a lot of fun for Despicable Me fans and anyone who likes bananas. There are in-app purchases available but not buying any doesn't affect game play in any way.

Minion Rush

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Operation Math

£2.29 (App Store links: iPad version and iPhone version)
Made for ages 9-11

This spy game puts the player as a secret agent battling the evil Dr Odd. You get new uniforms and spy gear for each mission completed. Like the other maths apps here you set your challenges depending on the level of maths skills of the child.

This game is all about beating the clock, so try it first in training mode when the player has more time to think about the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division equations.

The spy theme is a great idea for making maths a fun adventure.

Operations Math app spy game

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Times Table Galaxy

Price: Free (App Store link)
For kids aged 9-11

The aim of Times Table Galaxy, a free times tables app from the App Store, is to make learning maths a little bit more fun, social and competitive. The app has been designed by award winning educators, and will teach kids their times tables from 2x2 to 12x12 in a fun but challenging way. Kids can screen record their lightning fast times table attempts to show off to family, friends and teachers, and are also able to directly challenge friends to a times table showdown via Apple's Game Center. For a free app, it's worth a go, right?

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Toca Boca Hair Salon 2

£2.49 (App Store Link)
Ages 9-11

All the Toca Boca games for kids are great (except Toca Band, which will drive parents round the bend), but Toca Hair Salon is seriously a must-have on any family's phone or tablet. Toca Boca games are great - they have the design aesthetic of Swedish wooden toys and 'feel' a lot like real world toys that encourage imagination. Critically, they are great fun too.

Toca Boca Hair Salon 2

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: Tynker Premium

Price: £4.49 (App Store Link)
Ages 9-11

Tynker Premium is for slightly older children (aged 9-11). It aims to teach children the basics are coding through drag and drop visual blocks. These blocks are similar to programming code, and enabling children to solve puzzles and beat each level. There is a big push on to make programming more accessible to kids, and Tynker is a good way to do it. Children learn pattern recognition, problem solving, algorithmic thinking and concepts like repetition and conditional logic. Tynker Premium is good fun, too.

Tynker Premium

Best iPhone & iPad apps for kids: YodelOh Math Mountain

£2.29 (Download YodelOh Math Mountain)
Made for ages 9-11

From the same team as Operation Math comes a real oddity: YodelOh Math Mountain, an Alpine maths game. This quirky game fires sums at you as an Alpine gent slowly climbs the mountain. You can choose addition subtraction (both for numbers 1-20), multiplication, division (numbers 1-12) or a mix, and you have a multiple-choice selection. You need to score as many points as possible before the lederhosen-wearing Hans drops off the cliff.

It's really rather barking mad, with maths-crazed sheep butting Hans in the behind, and various other surprises. It's different that it makes a change from some of the quieter games we are reviewing here.

It features graduated difficulty, with questions getting harder at every level, as well as developmental skill building with kids having to priortise visual infomration and make quick decisions.

YodelOh Math Mountain could easily get addictive.

YodelOh Math Mountain

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