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Recommended Apps for kids ages 5-12

During the year, YDL librarians carefully review apps that promote learning for our school-aged patrons, so we can recommend them to parents.

We maintain another list of apps for kids ages 5 and under.

Criteria we look for in educational apps:

  • Have high-quality, age-appropriate educational content
  • Do not have in-app purchases (or that feature can be turned off)
  • Do not have links outside the app
  • Do have age-appropriate content
  • Do have opportunities for creation and safe sharing
  • Do encourage or inspire activity beyond the device
  • Accommodate different languages and abilities
  • Available for both Android and Apple devices

The Apps

Free Apps
  • Alien Assignment ages 6-8 A fun game that encourages problem solving and discovery
  • Amazing World Atlas ages 9-11 Play your way around the world
  • Balloony Word ages 6-10 Broaden vocabulary and improve spelling
  • Dinosaurs: American Museum of Natural History ages 6-8 100 dinosaur images from the museum’s collection
  • Inventioneers ages 9-11 An outstanding tool for learning about real-time physics
  • Kodable ages 6-8 Introduction to programming concepts and problem solving.
  • MiniPiano ages 4-10 Two octaves, many instrument effects, learn standard tunes
  • MoMA Art Lab  ages 8+ Kids explore techniques made famous by specific artists
  • Numberosity ages 6-9 Addition, subtraction and multiplication practice through play
  • Pocket Zoo ages 3-12 Information on animals, live zoo cams and educational videos
  • Ripped Apart: A Civil War Mystery ages 8-12 Solve puzzles to unlock clues as a Smithsonian intern
  • Shadow Puppet ages 7+ Create custom videos
  • Tinkerbox ages 7-12 Solve engineering puzzles; use tools to build
  • Toontastic ages 6-8 Teaches storytelling principles and animation
  • Touch Van Gogh ages 6+ A multi-layered art history app that examines six paintings by Vincent Van Gogh
  • Weird but True ages 9-11 National Geographic app that shares cool, bizarre facts
$1.99 Apps
  • Cut the Rope ages 5-8 Innovative game demonstrating basic physics
  • Weigh the World ages 9-11 Weigh different objects and learn about estimation
$2.99 Apps
  • Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night ages 6-11 Explore 3-D bat habitats to learn all about these mammals
  • Gro Recycling ages 5-10 Feed the recycling bins and make new stuff out of garbage
  • iBomes: Wetland ages 8-11 Explore three different wetland biomes.
  • Lightbot ages 9-11 Use programming logic to solve levels in the game
  • Piiig Labs ages 6-8 Explore science concepts through hands-on project building
  • Rom and the Whale of Dreams ages 6-8 An interactive book app
  • Stack the Countries ages 6-12 Learn capitals, landmarks, geographic locations
  • Starwalk Kids ages 6-8 Astronomy guide designed just for children
  • State Bingo and Road Trip ages 7-9 Explore beautiful maps on a fictional drive while playing bingo
  • Toca Band ages 5-10 Put “band members” on stage and create original music or use beats
  • Toca Builder ages 6-12 If you can imagine it, you can build it with the Toca blocks
  • Toca Lab ages 6-8 Learn the elements from the periodic table from monsters
$3.99 Apps
  • Magic School Bus: Oceans ages 4-8 Ms. Frizzle leads kids through ocean exploration
  • Monument Valley ages 6+ Guide princess Ida through hidden monuments and paths
  • Numbers League ages 6-8 Superheroes defeat villains in original, creative math game
  • Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System ages 6-8 An interactive book app that teaches about the solar system
  • Reckless by Cornelia Funke ages 10-14 An interactive book app
  • The Unstealer ages 5-10 Follow along as a stealthy thief turns an unhappy day around and makes an unconfident girl confident again
$4.99 Apps
  • Adventures of Captain Underpants ages 7-10 An interactive book app
  • Algodoo ages 8-13 Experiment with physics concepts and build in 2D
  • Bobo Explores Light ages 6-8 View 3-D holograms and participate in experiments
  • Book Creator ages 8+ Kids easily create their own books
  • DragonBox Algebra 5+ ages 8-12 Games that teach concepts relating to solving algebraic equations
  • Loose Strands ages 8-10 An interactive book app for fans of the Choose Your Own Adventure series
  • My Incredible Body ages 8-13 Learn about the human body and dissect 3D models


A note about screen time

Screen time means how long a child is looking at a screen. The television, computer, tablet, and cell phone all count as screens. Black & White logo that shows a young child and the words The American Academy of Pediatrics

We remember these recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • For children 2-5 years, limit screen use to one hour a day of high-quality programming, and co-view with children.
  • Avoid using media as the only way to calm a child.
  • Keep bedrooms, mealtimes and parent-child playtimes screen-free. Stop using screens an hour before bedtime and remove devices from bedrooms before bedtime.
  • Avoid fast-paced programs, apps with lots of distracting content and violent content.