50 best Android apps for kids from 2013

Got a new Hudl, Galaxy Tab Kids, Nexus 7, or another Android tablet for your children? Our best Android apps for kids roundup from 2013 may be of help this Christmas.

As the year went on, we covered more and more Android apps alongside this site’s original focus on iPhone and iPad, and that’s a trend that we think will continue in 2014, as more parents buy non-Apple tablets.

For now, read our snapshot of top Android apps from 2013, and let us know any great ones you think we should have included by posting a comment! And if you’re more of an iPhone or iPad parent.

Toca Builders

“A game inspired (a bit) by Minecraft, where children build whatever they like from colored blocks. Except, in this case, the building is done by six robots, each with their own skill. It’s very good fun, although slightly more complex than previous Toca Boca apps.”

BBC CBeebies Playtime

“Captain Barnacles and his Octonauts crew are joined by the Alphablocks, Tree Fu Tom, and Justin Fletcher’s Something Special in the new (and free) BBC CBeebies Playtime app… Each show gets its own game within the app, while us parents get a ‘Grown-Ups’ area with educational info and an option to record daily audio messages for our children to listen to within the app.”

Hakitzu Elite: Robot Warriors

“The app is all about teaching children and adults the basics of coding in the JavaScript language, by building and battling giant bots either against the device or against other human players. No previous coding knowledge is required to crack the code! This educational robot battle game takes you from beginner to coder, to hacker…”

Toca Hair Salon 2

“The app lets your children play hairdressers with six colorful characters, cutting, styling, and coloring their hair before taking snapshots to preserve their creativity. It’s marvelous fun on iOS, and looks just as impressive on Android.”

Toca hair salon 2

Angry Birds Star Wars II

“The game neatly presents the good characters from Star Wars as birds and the baddies as pigs. But this time around, you can play as both sides, slinging pigs at birds as well as birds at pigs… The characters are drawn from all six Star Wars films.”

Toca Cars

“On one hand it lets kids choose one of two drivers then create havoc in a virtual town made entirely of cardboard. On the other, they can set it all up again, placing houses and other objects wherever they like, before driving through the middle of them all again.”

Mr Shingu’s Paper Zoo

“It gets kids to create their own zoo full of colorful paper animals, teaching them origami as they make each virtual beast by folding paper on-screen, then painting them bright colors and keeping them happy with toys and items. As on iOS, there are no in-app purchases: you pay once for the app, and then kids earn its virtual currency by playing rather than paying.”

FriendStrip Kids

“Comic strips are fun, but how about comic strips starring your own children? That’s the inventive idea… more than 85 comic strips to choose from, with speech bubbles already written. The twist: your child has to point the device at siblings, friends, and/or family members to complete the frame.”

Dipdap

“The app matches the cartoon in its focus on drawing… aimed at 2-6 year-olds, who we think will love the freeform aspect as much as the missions. It’s also part of a mini-trend we’ve seen for kids’ drawing apps to provide prompts to spark their young audiences’ creativity.”

The Snowman and the Snowdog Game

“You play the snowman (and his friend, the boy) as they fly across the UK towards the North Pole, taking in landmarks like the Houses of Parliament, Stonehenge, Blackpool Tower, the Angel of the North, and Edinburgh Castle. The gameplay is most reminiscent of the Temple Run games – an “endless runner” (except with flying instead of running!) where you swipe on the screen to dodge obstacles.”

Chuggington Chug Patrol

“The story is based around qualifying for your Chug Patrol badges alongside enthusiastic trains Wilson, Brewster, and Koko, with other Chuggington characters also making appearances… The app is designed to look like a physical book, getting kids to flip through pages of text and pictures.”

Toy Story: Story Theater

“We loved this on iOS: an app where the aim isn’t just to read stories about Buzz, Woody and co, but to create them. Kids choose scenes, characters, and props, then record their voice telling the story.”

Toy story

Strangebeard – The Pirate Princess

“A storybook-app about a princess named Isabel, who goes to a party dressed as a pirate, and then finds herself sucked into ‘an incredible, action-packed adventure filled with pirate galleons, fearsome monsters, and fruit-flinging monkeys’. The app uses StoryToys’ familiar technology to create a pop-up style digital book, with mini-games and lots of interactivity.”

Magic Belles

“Focused on six “magical, musical fairies” – the Magic Belles of the title – who children can play within six mini-games promising “rich interactivity, hidden treasures, bright colors and amazing sounds”. There’s also a seventh mini-game that sees all six Belles come together to play a song as kids drag them into place on a podium, Toca Band-style. The app is aimed at 3-6 year-olds, with easy controls and plenty of variety.

Brains My Body

“A friendly and educational guide to anatomy, aimed at children aged between three and nine years old… Kids can build working skeletons or identify and position major organs. They’ll soon pick up key basics like food digestion, blood circulation, and even how the brain works.”

Despicable Me: Minion Rush

“An ‘endless runner’ game in the same vein as Temple Run. It sees you playing as one of the films’ Minions, running through various locations swiping to turn, jump and slide your way past obstacles. Along the way, you have to collect bananas and defeat villains, while adding costumes, weapons and power-ups to customize your Minion to suit the way you play the game.”

 

Grimm’s Bookshelf

“a way for parents and children to sample all of StoryToys’ apps in one place, playing a free game from each storybook, buying apps that they like the look of, and launching every StoryToys app that they own from within the app too. The company says it’ll use the Bookshelf app to let parents know about promotions, discounts, and new/future apps as well.”

My Talking Tom

“A virtual pet game where Tom starts as a kitten and gradually grows up, with your children tasked with keeping him entertained, fed, rested and toileted (is that a verb?), while also customizing the way he and his home looks. That makes it more of a game, with players leveling up (50 is the maximum) to unlock new clothes, furniture and food along the way.”


Light-bot

“A ‘programming puzzle game’, aiming to make learning the basics of coding fun rather than a dry experience. ‘Light-bot lets players gain a practical understanding of basic control-flow concepts like procedures, loops, and conditionals, just by guiding a robot with commands to light up tiles and solve levels’.”

Sketch-a-Song

“The app is aimed at 6-12 year-olds as a way for them to compose music by tapping and dragging on the touchscreen. The app includes more than 40 instruments to experiment with, turning the music into bright, colorful patterns rather than expecting children to have already grasped traditional music notation.”

Peppa Pig’s Sports Day

“A collection of six mini-games based around Peppa and her friends’ school sports day: Obstacle Race, Long jump, Ice cream maker, Bicycle race, Tug of War and Rosette Making. There’s also a digital sticker book section, plus music and sound effects from the Peppa Pig TV show to make children feel at home.”

Cars 2 Read and Race

“Part story and part racing game for kids starring Lightning McQueen and his friends (and rivals). Kids read the story, then get to race in Tokyo, Porto Corsa, London and Radiator Springs itself.”

Dr. Panda's home

Dr Panda’s Home

“A playful app about household chores, from mopping the floor and stacking the dishwasher to looking after rabbits and brushing teeth… There are more than 20 mini-games to play, with an array of cutesy animal characters featured.”

Medieval Math Battle

“Learning math facts has never been so dangerous! Use your brain and brawn to defeat dragons, goblins, trolls, and many other treacherous beasts. The faster you answer, the stronger your attack. Knowledge is power!… The game increases in difficulty as your children play, with the suggestion being that kids spent 15 minutes or more a day practicing their skills.”

John Lewis Bear & Hare

“Have you seen it yet? The John Lewis Christmas ad, with the Bear and Hare? It’s been causing quite a stir, and now there’s an official app. It’s called Bear and Hare, and it’s an animated storybook app telling the tale from the advert… with voice narration from DJ and presenter Lauren Laverne.”

Max’s Pirate Planet

“A piratically-themed multiplayer game designed to be played on a single device by up to four ‘kids of all ages’. The game involves hunting for a hoard of gold belonging to a legendary pirate named Barnacle Bill in a turn-based race across the high seas. Duels with swords or cannons are included when friends are playing.”

Dr Panda’s Bus Driver

“The latest in the series of playful apps from developer TribePlay, and as the title makes clear, it puts children in control of a bus. The obvious comparison is to something like Toca Train, in that they’ll be picking up a succession of characters (animals rather than people here) and taking them to their destination.”

Skylanders Cloud Patrol

“A colorful action game involving shooting the mischievous troll characters, and amassing loot as your children progress through the levels and unlock new characters. They can also scan in the Skylanders toys they already own, to play within the game.”

colAR Mix

“Here’s how it works: you download and print out some picture pages from the colAR Mix website, then get your children to color them in. Then point your iPhone, iPad or Android device’s camera at the piece of paper to see the drawing turn into a 3D animation – WITH the colors that your child used. There’s an airplane, a teddy bear, a dragon and a girl among other designs.”

Transformers Prime – Story Cube

“A collection of Transformers stories, plus an “interactive encyclopedia” about the characters and their world. The app is based on the all-new Transformers Prime TV series, with the stories told through static pictures and text, navigated through by swiping a cube at the bottom of the screen. As your child progresses, they’ll unlock ‘Data’ on the characters, artifacts, and locations in the story, which can then be read in the app’s Encyclopaedia section.”

A to Sea

“It’s an animal alphabet app from A to Z, with each letter and creature getting its own interactive animation. ‘Fish swim (and fly!) Sharks chomp! Pufferfish inflate! Zooplankton do plankton stuff!’ as the App Store listing puts it. It’s handcrafted and rather lovely.

Geography Drive Arcade

“A trivia game based on their existing Geography Drive USA app, stripping out its mini-games into an all-new app with 200 “important State facts” spread between different challenges. There’s also a map to pore over if your kids still can’t tell their Nebraska from their Nevada.”

Lego Duplo Train

“Based on Lego’s younger-but-still-bricky sister brand Duplo, the app gets kids to drive a train: ‘choosing and loading wagons, building bridges, stopping at crossings, refueling and laying new tracks around pesky rocks’. It’s aimed at toddlers and pre-schoolers, with the promise of no in-app purchases or advertising.”

Fun games

Woolizoo’s Ocean Rescue

“Aimed at 2-6 year-olds, it’s a combination of games and educational exercises, with an environmental theme that hopes to teach children about the dangers posed to our oceans and sealife. Expect dolphins, penguins, turtles, crabs and more – all in glorious woollyvision. The message is worthy, the games are fun, but it’s the handcrafted visuals that we’re still blown away by most.”

Gomma Friends

“Partly a dress-up app. Children create outfits for eight animated characters in various scenes, from a beach or a jungle to a magical fairy world. The twist: in Gomma Friends, every time your child creates a scene, they’ll unlock “gifts” in the app’s album section: paper models that you can print, cut out and set up in the real world.”

Fireman Sam – Junior Cadet

“Another collection of mini-games based on TV show Fireman Sam: Hose Practice, Hide ‘n’ Seek, Load Jupiter, To the Rescue, Sky High Rescue, and Fire Fighter. Like the Peppa app, there’s also a digital stickering section, where children can create scenes using the stickers they’ve picked up while playing the mini-games.”

The Butter Battle Book

“The storyline focuses on feuding Yooks and Zooks, whose battle is based in part on ferocious disagreement on whether to eat bread with the butter side up or down. The app, like the book, traces their descent into ever-sillier weaponry (Triple-Sling Jigger, anyone?) as they try to outdo one another.”

Moshi Monsters Music

“Moshi Monsters Music was released for iPhone, iPad and Android today, as a way for kids to easily watch the music videos starring its cartoon monster characters. But not just watch. The app also offers karaoke-style lyrics while videos play, so children can learn the words and sing along. Plus make their parents sing-along, naturally!”

FableScapes 2

“The app describes itself as ‘a virtual puppet theatre to play with’, getting children to choose characters, scenery and then expressions to tell stories. There are 30 characters and 15 objects – all animated – with three different scenes to use them in: pirate adventures, knights and wizards, and space journey. Scenes can be saved to play with again later, and you can also save screenshots to send to friends and family.”

Wombi Math

“As you may have guessed from the title, it’s all about the sums: a wall of equations and answers, with your children tasked with matching them correctly. The app covers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, with kids able to mix and match the different categories however they like. Simple to use, and flexible enough to appeal to different skill levels, it’s good educational fun.”

Formula Cartoon All-Stars

“‘Race with Ben 10, Mordecai, Finn, Gumball, Rigby, Jake, Gwen, Skips, Darwin, Kevin, Marceline, Muscleman and more than 16 characters from Cartoon Network’s most popular shows,’ explains its App Store listing. “Use the craziest power-ups to boost your vehicle or block your opponents with attacks of tomatoes, ice cubes, bubbles, bubble gum, and even more.’ There’s a lot to it as well: children can create their own vehicle from more than 100 pieces while racing on 75 tracks based on locations in the various Cartoon Network shows.”

Kids Learn Mandarin

“It teaches kids how to write, read and say more than 240 Mandarin words, through a mixture of mini-games, exercises and music videos. The initial free download includes a lesson on numbers with eight games, one video and 20 digital stickers to decorate the in-game playground, which shows children’s progress.”

Goodnight Mo Bedtime Book

“Aimed at children aged between 15 months and 3+ years, it’s the work of StoryToys, whose pop-up apps for fairytales and Chuggington alike we’ve enjoyed a lot. This one’s different: “a magically sleepy and comforting bedtime book” starring a monster named Mo… they will delight in gently sending various animals to the land of nod, popping bubbles in a bath, brushing Mo’s teeth, and rocking the little monster to sleep.”

Wombi Tower

“Developed by Wombi Apps, it blends Tower Bloxx’s block-dropping action with Jenga’s turn-based structure for several players. “Piece by piece, players take turns adding building sections to create a larger and larger tower,” explains its app store listing. ‘Don’t let the badger construction manager distract you with his nervousness as you place each shape on top of the last’.”

Toca Kitchen

“As on iOS, Toca Kitchen sees your kids cooking for four cartoon characters, who have no hesitation in showing exactly what they think of the food – for better or worse… There are 12 ingredients to cook with, no in-app purchases or third-party ads, and even the hope that playing with the app will encourage your children to try some new foods in real life.”

iStoryTime Storybook

“The company is billing the app as ‘the Netflix of kids’ books’, because you pay a single monthly subscription fee to access all its stories, rather than buying each one individually (although we think you can do the latter too, if you’d rather)… Stories include The Croods, Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, Monsters vs. Aliens and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

KicVidz – Minecraft

“Millions of children love the building game Minecraft. There are lots of Minecraft-related videos on YouTube. And the problem in linking those two trends is this: quite a few of those videos are a bit… sweary. KicVidz is a new Android app that aims to solve that problem, with more than 250 child-friendly Minecraft videos.”

Moose and Zebra

Moose & Zebra: Sweden

“We’re guessing a moose would feel pretty comfortable in Sweden, but a zebra would be more flummoxed. Yet that’s the setup for a lovely-looking new kids’ app called Moose & Zebra: Sweden… It’s billed as an interactive magazine, with a mixture of interactive fun aimed at developing logic, maths, memory and fine-motor skills for children.”

Damki Town

“A digital coloring book based on a town of 36 “crazy” residents, with a distinctly animal feel… Once finished the pics can be saved, emailed and shared on Facebook (by a parent, obviously). There are plenty of digital coloring books on the App Store, but this one looks worth a look.”

Fun Town for Kids

“A virtual town for 2-6 year-olds to explore on their iOS or Android device, visiting locations and playing 14 different mini-games based on them… Kids can make hamburgers in the town’s restaurant, build bikes in its bike shop, sort fruit in the grocer’s and scan and pack shopping in the supermarket, among other activities.”

 

 

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