KinderTown’s Top 14 of 2014

KinderTown transforms mobile devices into powerful teaching tools by finding and organizing the best educational apps for kids ages 3-8 years old.


Read KinderTown's reviews of their favorite educational apps from 2014.

Our mission is to improve early childhood education by empowering parents with the tools to be better teachers. We work hard to find the best educational apps for children. Each app we select for KinderTown has been tested and reviewed by educators, parents, and most importantly, children. Not all (or even most) of the apps meet our high standards. We take many factors into account including educational value, ease of use, engagement value, design features, artwork, cost, and shelf life. It’s through this process that we believe we can help parents use their iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches to teach their children anything.

Read KinderTown's reviews of their favorite educational apps from 2014.

1. Reading – Learn with Homer

Learn with Homer is a full “Learn to Read” series of lessons for kids. The app features letter sound instruction, sight word introduction, read aloud stories, and a mixed review of concepts presented. The app does a nice job of mixing reading instruction, a review of previously-taught concepts and the reading aloud of real books, which are all key components to learning to read. The developers of Learn with Homer conducted research using their app on children who were beginning to read, and showed that the use of the app 15 minutes a day led to an increase in their beginning reading skills. Learn with Homer is free to download but does include in-app purchases to buy additional lesson content.

2. Math – Marble Math Jr.

Marble Math Junior is an excellent example of how to merge quality game design with significant educational value. This app moves kids through the sequence of understanding the question, tapping into knowledge to form an answer, and creating a strategy for navigating the gameplay maze. Getting answers wrong is not an issue here, where it’s highly motivating to learn through trial and error, too. Take time to read the information pages to learn about all the features and customize the problems and levels. One of the most engaging, educational math apps we have played to date.

3. Spelling – Rocket Speller Plus

Rocket Speller offers children an engaging space scene in which to practice spelling. The app presents words to students and they must reconstruct the word. To reinforce vocabulary development, each word is presented with a picture. Rocket Speller has the option to have the word displayed (visual hints) so students are reconstructing the word in order to continually practice spelling it, building visual memory of the letters. Children like how getting a few correct answers leads to different choices for designing their own rocket ship and eventually blasting it off into space. Rocket Speller has five different levels that provide options for visual hints and audible hints, as well as smart technology that can determine when a child is having difficulty in order to provide what is called Adaptive Assistance.

4. Social Studies – Barefoot World Atlas

Barefoot World Atlas will completely mesmerize all members of your family. Open to a globe dotted with images that just beg to be tapped. Read and listen to fun facts by touching the images on the screen. Looking for more depth? Search by country and region to learn facts that give you a look into the lives of people and places around the world. This app is completely worth the price of $4.99 and will be appreciated by both the adults and children ages 4-8. Find a time to sit with your child and enjoy Barefoot World Atlas together.

5. Science – Human Body

The Human Body is an app made for exploring and asking questions. There is animation to accompany the six different body systems. Encourage and answer your child’s questions while exploring, and they will direct their own learning. Tap different parts of the brain, and an animation pops up depicting what that area of the brain controls. The app is not narrated, so parents need to provide the support for learning. In addition, the app offers a parent section and an option to set up multiple profiles for different children. Children can record questions while using the app, and parents can respond to them. Tinybop has even made a helpful parent guide to accompany the app. We highly recommend downloading it and using it with your child. It’s perfect for answering the tough questions your child may ask about their body. This app is brilliantly designed for scientific discovery.

6. Logic – ThinkRolls

In Thinkrolls, rolling character balls take the stage as your child solves increasingly complex problems to allow their character to progress through the maze. There are two levels of game play, easy and hard. Easy is recommended for children 3-5, and hard for children ages 5-8. KinderTown recommends that all children begin at the easy level to understand the goals of the puzzles. Your child does not have to spend a long time at this level to be ready to move to the harder levels, but this will set them up for success. A blinking “redo” symbol flashes in the corner to assist your child when they are stuck and unable to complete the challenge. The challenge is then reset with the maze. The challenges in the mazes come in the form of obstacles. Some unique obstacles include fire blocks, ice blocks, balloons, and KinderTown’s favorite, the jelly block. The jelly block allows your character to jump up from one area to another. Another child tester favorite was the fire block. Watch out! If your character rolls into the fire block, it will turn black and burnt, which our child testers loved! However, the goal is to not become burnt. Children eventually solved the puzzles after experiencing the burnt characters. As the levels progress, children have to use visualization skills to predict the cause and effect of several “moves” in the puzzle. Concepts about physics and chemistry are sprinkled along the way when children must make decisions about the moving gear box, figure out how to make the balloon pop and move the ice to quench the fire. The app offers an amazing amount of content in the 90 levels of easy game play and 90 levels of hard game play. Be sure to read the Chapter descriptions in the settings section for parents in order to have a complete understanding of all the challenges presented in each level or chapter. Thinkrolls is a truly unique app priced at $2.99, available for iPhone and iPad, and is recommended for children ages 3-7

7. Story Creation – Draw and Tell

Draw and Tell brings the best features of drawing apps into one fabulous art experience. Choose from a blank page, your photos, or one of the app’s backgrounds, and start creating. Tools like crayons, stickers, paint and erasers are used while this app records your child singing, talking, and moving stickers all over the screen. Not feeling up to creating your own picture? Try out the variety of coloring pages where you get to drop paint into the lines to create a vibrant scene. The real gem is the final product where your child’s voice and artistic creation are made into a personal movie.

8. Coding – Kodable

Kodable is an introduction to coding for young children. When children use the app, they are coding fuzz balls to move around the screen. The app starts off with very simple mazes for the fuzz balls to complete, and progress as your child completes the puzzles. The children we tested this app on loved to earn color changes for the puff ball by successfully completing puzzles. Kodable is for kids ages 5-8 and is free, but does include in-app purchases to unlock additional levels. With the free version there are 45 levels with interactive tutorials. Kodable Pro offers all of the in-app purchases in one app for 6.99 and includes interactive tutorials and learning guides. Check out their website for more information on their line of apps. Kodable also offers another feature called Kodable Sync, which is designed for classrooms in order to accommodate multiple students.

9. Visual Memory – Dexteria Dots 2

KinderTown loves the creative approach to numbers that Dexteria Dots provides. Dexteria Dots designed a game in which players are developing visual tracking, visual memory and visual motor planning skills through manipulating different sized dots within the app. While playing with the dots, children are learning math concepts such as comparing numbers, counting, adding and subtracting. In addition, fine motor skills are used to slice and connect the dots on the screen. The unique design relates the size of the dots to the numeric value. For example, a 4-dot has twice the diameter of a 2-dot. There are two different games inside Dexteria Dots 2, Make Equal Dots and Compare Dots. In the Make Equal Dots Game, children are challenged to use all the dots to make two equal dots. In the Compare Dots game children combine dots to see which side of the screen is larger. As the games advance, the numeric representation on the dots disappears, developing visual memory and discrepancy. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for children learning addition and subtraction concepts who are approximately 4-8.

10. Social Emotional – Daniel Tiger Grr-ific Feelings

Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings provides an app in which kids can learn about different types of feelings while playing and singing with Daniel Tiger. Our kid testers loved the trolley game in which children navigate the trolley to 12 different games. Each game has a specific feeling to complete an activity, such as feeling frustrated and having to find a lost toy, or feeling happy and making Daniel Tiger dance. There is also a sing-along section where kids can sing about feelings with Daniel Tiger, as well as a drawing area that includes paint, crayons and stickers. This app provides an age-appropriate way to explore different types of feelings with children ages 3-5, and is a great way to start conversations with your children about feelings. The app is $2.99 and available for iPad.

11. Letter Sounds – Endless Alphabet

Endless Alphabet is a super silly, wacky, hilarious vocabulary learning app for kids. Scroll through words inside a friendly blue monster’s mouth. Tap on one that looks especially interesting, and learn what the word means. Kids need to build the word, letter by letter first, then watch, listen and learn about the meaning of each word. Wacky, weird letters and colorful, interesting (non-scary) monster characters play the starring role in the app. You won’t find any high scores or multiple levels in Endless Alphabet. This app is just about learning new words in a playful, discovery-focused way.

12. Multiple Skills – Grandma’s Kitchen

Grandma’s Kitchen is sure to delight your youngest chef while practicing a variety of skills including patterning, counting tens and ones, visual discrepancy, telling time, and ABC order. Grandma’s Kitchen has a nice balance of creative play, skill-based practice and informational videos to build vocabulary. Grandma will even give your child prompts if they are having difficulty answering the question. After your child answers the question, they are rewarded with an activity with grandma such as adding ingredients to the mixer to make a cake, watching an informational cooking video, dancing with Grandma, or our favorite, giving Grandma a kiss! Parents, be sure to check out the settings area where you can decide which skills your child is practicing. Check out the fun facts section for tidbits about food, nutrition and cooking. The app is $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-7.

13. Best Non-fiction Reading – Kids Discover Apps

Kids Discover is a jam-packed, non-fiction learning experience for kids. Kids Discover has a variety of topics that they offer in magazine/book-styled apps. Each topic contains pages with information and interactive elements. The app does contain a large amount of text, which is not read aloud. Parents read aloud the text to your child, or help define the topic-specific vocabulary words your child may not be able to read themselves. The apps contain great real pictures, drawings, diagrams, and areas to learn more. At the end of each app there are activities that relate to the topic of the magazine, and multiple choice quizzes with an answer key. Check out their website for excellent parent guides. They also have a teacher area with free lesson plans to accompany each of the apps. Visit their webpage to see all of the app magazine topics like electricity, the Incas, geology, the Civil War, galaxies and much more. Each one is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 6-8.


14.  Handwriting – abc PocketPhonics

ABC PocketPhonics brings three important language skills together into one app. In abc PocketPhonics, children learn to recognize letters, hear letter sounds, form letters by tracing, and use the letter sounds to build words. Parents are able to create multiple users, have control over the font and letter types, what letters their child can work on, and how flawless the writing needs to be. ABC PocketPhonics tracks each user’s answer and will not advance a user unless they first demonstrate mastery of the basics. The app is $6.99 and is appropriate for children who are learning their letters and their sounds ages 4-6. Try the Lite version first to see if it is a good match for your child.

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