To kick things off, I asked my kids what their favorite apps are, since they're always swiping my iPhone and iPad to play. Here's what they picked:
Alice in Wonderland (for iPad, $8.99): This was one of our first big purchases for the iPad, and it's amazing. I had forgotten to bring the bag with my daughter's books to a beach vacation in July, and with one swipe of a finger, this multimedia version of Lewis Carroll's classic became an instant favorite. Yes, the price is hefty, but it's worth it to see the moving pieces and have an interactive reading experience.
Angry Birds ($0.99): I have to be honest and admit I've never played, but my husband and E, our nearly nine-year-old son, claim it's addictive. I'm too busy winning at playing Words With Friends to be bothered, but it's gotta be the No. 1 paid-phone-app (and one of those iTunes Hall of Fame app) for a reason, at least according to the men in my life. There's zero educational value, but since my son picked it, here it is!
iPuzzleWords ($1.99): This is a great word game for budding and early readers. Kids have to rearrange a picture until the corresponding letters spell the word depicted in the picture. When kids finish, they hear a voice go over the spelling of the word: "J-E-E-P, JEEP!" If they rearrange the letters incorrectly, they hear a buzz instead of a beep.
Princess Dress-Up: My Sticker Book ($2.49)*: My daughter is going through one of those typical princess-and-fairy obsession phases, so this app is pretty much meant for her. She hears short little stories about each princess and then helps them get dressed (she selects the clothes and accessories). There's also an option to a photo of my daughter and help *her* get dressed up, but we haven't done that yet. This is strictly for Disney Princess-philes, though.
Thumbelina ($3.99): We downloaded this app when it was free for a day (thanks to App Advice), and D, our six-year-old daughter, loves it so much, she sometimes asks for it as her bedtime story in lieu of a real book. That would usually make me sad, but the app allows me to turn off the narration, or we go through and read/play it together.
Toddler Counting ($0.99): This is a ridiculously simple but educational and fun app for my preschooler. We pick easier or harder levels, and then my little one is asked "How many carrots can you count?" Then he taps on each one, hearing "1, 2, 3, 4..." and when he's finished, is told "Fantastic," and then the new flashcard-style page appears with roosters or what have you. It's basic but fun, and he loves to count along with the narrator.
- Toy Story 3 Read-a-Long ($8.99)*: It's a good read-a-long app if your kids like the Toy Story characters, but it was buggy for a while until its last update.
- PandaMania (9+, $0.99): My oldest likes the challenge of this quest-based game.
- Animal Fun (free!): My toddler loves animal sounds, so this is a perfect fit, but be warned, it can get kinda loud!
For more kid-friendly apps, check out what my colleagues at Common Sense Media have to say.
If you post with suggestions on some apps my family should try, you'll have a chance to win one of the above apps as a holiday gift from yours truly! Contest ends 11:59PM Dec. 22nd.
*Disney Publishing provided me with free access codes to Toy Story 3 (ages ago) and the Princess Sticker Book, but these really are my kids favorite picks.