Our Favorite Kids' Apps

A few months ago after we closed on our house we started the daily task of getting her move-in ready (buh-bye popcorn ceilings).  The twins were in school during those couple of months but Seb and Gianna were not and so, during that time that we were working in the house, they were running around the empty rooms and sometimes...dun dun dun...on a screen.

We usually reserve playing on our Kindles for road/plane trips only, but a few hours at a time running around an empty house can get pretty uninteresting (we didn't bring toys over for awhile until we tackled the smoke smell).  We bought our first Kindle Fire*, a refurbished 10" screen, off Amazon a few years ago for a road trip and it was great at keeping the younger three kids (who were much younger) entertained in the back seat.  (Check out how we turned it into a "built-in" TV in our vehicle here.)  The next year, we took advantage of a Black Friday deal and added another Kindle Fire* (an 8") to the fam so that the twins both had their own (Seb was still a little too young to play with it).  Then, a few weeks ago we snatched up another two Kindle Fires* (we got two 7 inchers for $50!)  It seems a little frivolous and overboard in that first-world way, but as the kids get older and technology continues to flower in the way of screens, it's nice that each kid can have his/her own tablet to work on.  (PS, you might've guessed it but if you're looking for a super affordable tablet option, look no farther than the Kindle Fire*...we highly recommend them!)  With that though, we still reserve the screens for special situations - long trips, the girls will do some math on them for five minutes daily during the summer, and occasionally playing on a Kindle for 20-30 minutes will be a reward for doing something good.  It's HARD but I'm a big advocate of limiting screen time.  Believe me, especially when there's been a newborn in the house, we are no strangers to screens but I can definitely tell the difference in my kids attitudes when they've been watching too much TV.  On the flip side, I love watching their imaginations take over when they don't have the option of watching and we try to err on the side of that being the majority.  BUT, like I said, we're no strangers to that glowing, flat surface.  Nor are we enemies and when they come in handy, it's nice that there are apps out there that actually put stuff into their brains vs. just pulling cells from them.  ;)

Most of the apps we use are free and if not free, cheap.  If you're an Amazon Prime member, Amazon Marketplace is a fantastic place to find good free apps.

Here are our tried-and-true faves...

Educational Apps

Khan Academy Kids* (free) - this one is, by far, our favorite learning app.  There is so much learning to be had on so many levels.  If you have to choose one app, choose this one.

123 Numbers - Count and Tracing* (free) - this one is best for preschool aged kids, in my opinion.  It's slow-moving and helps with number recognition.  Note:  we use a stylus to trace the numbers and I feel like that is more helpful long-term vs. finger tracing.

Bible for Kids* (free) - another favorite.  My sister tuned me into this app after watching her kids dive in.  Kids can hear bible stories and then each story they hear has an interactive scene that, I think, helps them remember the stories.

Kids Learn Spelling Fun* (free) - great for Kindergarten and First Graders who are learning to spell.

Kids Sight Words* ($2.99) - this was helpful for our girls to learn all of their basic sight words during their last semester of Kindergarten and first semester of First Grade.  There's also a "Lite" version* that's free if you like to try before you buy.

Math Kids - Add, Subtract, Count, and Learn* (free) - I like how visual this app is in teaching math.  The girls used it a little bit in kindergarten and I wish we'd have used it more.  I'm planning on using it a lot with Sebastian this year.

Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Games* (free) - this was the first learning app we ever downloaded.  It says it's for Pre-K and K but there's a little bit of spelling and math tossed in there that I think are first-grade level.  We have and love the free version but there's also a $3.99 version* that has cool things like progress reports tossed in.

XtraMath* ($4.99) - our twins use this app in school and it was recommended to us for them to use during the summer.  It was hard paying $5 for an app (it's the most expensive app we own...haha!) but I like it.  The girls' teacher last year called it a "math vitamin".  They get on once a day (skipping a few days here and there), solve a few equations for five minutes, and they're done.  It tracks their progress and tailors the next day's quizzes to what they need to work on, and sends me a progress report once a week.  I've definitely seen them sharpen their addition skills over the summer.

Non-educational, Fun Apps

Sago Mini* (some free on Amazon Warehouse) - This company makes a whole slew of really, really, really cute games that are so great for road trips.  We paid for one and have found the rest of the ones we have downloaded on Amazon Marketplace.  We've got Babies Dress Up, Mini Friends, Road Trip, Toolbox, and Space Explorer.

Minion Rush* (free) - We downloaded this when the twins were five right before a big road trip out west and they just didn't get into it.  NOW however, a couple of years older, they love it.  (And it could just be that they liked other apps more because, at five, Seb really likes this game.)

Puzzle For Toddlers* (free) - Gianna loves to do jigsaw puzzles so she loves this app.  There are free puzzles and then puzzles that are locked in the not-free app.  They're definitely all toddler-level.  I've considered getting the app since she loves it so much but I want to do some more research on good puzzle apps before I buy.  Any other good recs?

Fruit Cut* (free) - Even the adults can get in on this one.  You basically slice flying fruit and try not to hit bombs.  It's frustrating and exhilarating all in one.  But we like it because the toddler can play it at the level where all you're doing is slicing fruit or the big kids can play the more challenging fruit and bomb games.

Kids Doodle 2* (free) - Our kids love to doodle and so that's exactly what this app provides - unlimited amounts of doodling.  No paper required.  ;)

Those are ours!  What are yours?

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*These links are affiliate links which means that, if you click over and/or make a purchase through the link, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  All of these links will lead you to apps we actually downloaded, whether they were free or a few bucks.  I'm pretty sure we don't get a commission on free apps but just in case Amazon is feeling extra generous and/or possibly critical, this disclosure applies to those too.  ;)  This extra money helps us with the costs of running the blog.  Thank you for your support and for fueling our love to share all things DIY!


  1. I'm definitely going to check out that Bible app. We have limited screens a LOT more since my eldest started school. They do so much on screens now at our regular old public school that we just cut them out altogether at home during the week. We will occasionally watch a movie together on the weekend. We do allow them on long road trips though!

    1. Yeah, having screen time at school makes it tricky at home. We are right there with ya. But hooray for family movies!