Welcome to our blog post on educational kids’ games and apps! As parents and caregivers, we all want to ensure that our children have access to engaging and fun ways to learn new skills and concepts. With the increasing availability of technology, there are now more options than ever when it comes to home education resources that can help our little ones develop and grow.
In this post, we will explore some of the best educational games and apps available for kids of all ages. Whether you’re looking for something to help with reading, math, science, or even social-emotional learning, we’ve got you covered. We’ll also provide some tips for choosing the right games and apps for your child and how to make the most of their learning experience.
So, whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or teacher, join us as we delve into the world of educational games and apps and discover the many benefits they can offer our children. Let’s get started!
The truth is that parents need easy solutions while working from home, trying to juggle conference calls and keeping their kids busy. After all, equipping your child with a tablet and a few selected quality apps is much better than streaming a constant flow of random cartoons on YouTube.
We don’t suggest replacing your school’s assigned tasks, but educational games can be a great supplement. Many schools have already embraced gamified educational platforms, such as Lexia and Mathletics.
We think children must enjoy learning and are allowed to have fun when they are first beginning to grasp the basics as young students. Game-based education works well for today’s digital-first kids, but for parents who didn’t learn in this way, it feels unnatural at first. When our kids first started to try out educational games, we also began to recognise their effectiveness which won us over.
Browsing the Play Store (Android) or App Store (Apple) for high-quality and affordable educational games can be a daunting experience. There are thousands of apps available of all kinds; some are free and some are paid.
We usually look at these five criteria before deciding which apps to download for our kids’ tablets:
- Value for money: Ideally, the app should be free, but we don’t mind paying if the game is a particularly good match. We also expect apps with a higher price-tag to provide value over a long period.
- User experience: The game’s interface should be intuitive and easy to navigate for a child.
- Fun factor: The app should be fun enough for the kids to be self-motivated when it comes to picking up their tablet and playing the game.
- Educational value: The game should be at least loosely linked with the kids’ curriculum, helping them to meet their school objectives.
- Distractions: We hate kids games cluttered with ads and offers for paid options. Luring kids into nagging trying to convince parents to purchase something is just unethical marketing.
Looking at the review score within the app stores can be helpful, but it can also be very confusing. We tend to rely more on recommendations from friends, blogs and independent reviews by newspapers and magazines rather than relying too much on ratings within the app platforms.
Poio by Kahoot!
Suitable for: 3-8-year-olds, practising phonetics
We first heard about Poio after it gained popularity in Scandinavia with several friends recommending it. We were quick to download the Android version when it came out in the UK, eager to test out the English version.
The game takes place on an island where you can navigate through the different levels and worlds where you can collect new letters and words that you need for the main Poio storybook. The characters are charming and well thought out: Anna, Ebbe, Poio and Otto. They eat different words, and you often have to rescue them when they get into problems. Our daughter really liked the fantasy world and thought the characters were cool. We also felt that she made progress with her phonetics, and was a great compliment to her year in reception and the first term of year 1. Poio is an expensive app, but considering the number of hours she has used the game over a whole year without getting fed up, we think it’s been worth it.
Suitable for: 3-8-year-olds, practising spellings
In Endless Wordplay, kids can practice spelling, word building, and beautiful rhymes! The app introduces key spelling patterns and phonograms to kids, which is essential for beginning spellers and early writers. Written English can be complicated, and Endless Wordplay strengthens spelling rules and variations using rhymes in a fun and engaging way.
Our daughter cherished the Alphabot as well as the Endless monsters. Each exercise strengthens a spelling and phonetic pattern using a sequence of rhyming word puzzles with letters that come alive. The rhyming words then lead to entertaining and illustrative animations that are as fun as they are educational.
Suitable for: 5-11-year-olds learning maths
Komodo is not a game per se, but still very engaging with objectives and rewards. Our daughter enjoyed the user interface, and the sessions are usually quick (15 min). After signing up, your child will do an assessment and then receive a personal email from a maths teacher with a recommended personalised learning plan. Komodo follows the National Curriculum in maths, with an emphasis on numeracy. There are also videos to help children and their parents to understand the system quickly, and even a message system so the parent can get updates and encourage their child when making progress.
We enjoyed the free 14 days trial of Komodo Math and will be using it as a compliment to Mathletics, which is the platform that our school offers.
Suitable for: 4-16-year-olds learning maths
Our daughter spends around 20 min per day on the Mathletics platform doing assigned exercises from her school as well as additional activities. Even if not structured as a game, we have found the platform to be engaging with lots of tutorials and explanations if getting stuck on a particular task. The user interface also is easy to navigate, which means our daughter can manage a lot on her own.
After solving the mandatory types of exercises, students get access to a play area where they can compete against other children around the world. Children also have access to the Rainforest Maths section with its own set of interactive activities (more than 800) for each of the grades K-6. Designed to appeal to young students, it’s bright, colourful, and interactive.
Toca Lab: Elements!
Suitable for: 6-8-year-olds learning science
Our kids have grown addicted to several of the Toca Boca kids games, some more educational than others! Playing Toca Lab: Elements!, children get to explore the colourful and electrifying world of science meeting all of the 118 elements from the periodic table.
Examples of experiements:
- Take your element for a spin in the centrifuge.
- Warm them up in the Bunsen burner.
- Put the element on ice with the cooling agent!
- Add a drop or two of mysterious liquids from the test tubes.
- Change their voltage and make them magnetic with the oscilloscope.
The more kids experiment, the more elements they can choose from as they appear on the periodic table. (There’s a complete periodic table of elements with the elements’ Toca-inspired characters, symbols, and real scientific names on the Toca Boca blog). We enjoyed Toca Lab because it enables children to play around with chemistry with no safety goggles or complex equations required at this early, free-play stage.
Suitable for: 5+ years-olds learning coding
- Master coding by playing puzzles and games
- Do block coding to create games, math art, apps, and more
- Control loops, conditional statements, functions, and subroutines to find treasure
- Learn sequencing and pattern recognition while collecting candy
- Switch between block coding and Swift
- Learn to program AR, games, and apps
- Over 200 starter tutorials included
Educational Activities for kids at home
We are not homeschooling experts by any means, but we strongly believe in using technology and online resources as important supplements to our kid’s education. The lockdown was our trigger to get more into the many online educational platforms available for kids beyond what our school is offering.
Especially for younger school children, the gamification of heavy subjects like maths can be a real game-changer for kids that normally would have a hard time becoming engaged by traditional ways of learning.
If you are like us and use homeschooling resources mainly as a supplement to school learning, these links are a good start:
Bitesize is BBC’s learning platform for children (requires a British TV license). Core subjects covered include maths, science and English. The format is mainly TV-based, but you’ll also find interactive exercises and games. As always, the BBC is providing excellent quality and is a safe choice for your kids.
Maths & Coding Platforms for Kids
Mathletics is our preferred maths platform (supported through many UK schools). Students can solve exercises such as addition, multiplication, geometry, division and statistics. The questionnaires are engaging with drag and drop functionality and easy to understand explanations. There is also a play area where students can test their skills against other school children while earning points contributing to weekly certificates. Mathletics is part of our daily morning routine!
Another maths resource, Xtramath is a completely free app-based platform that helps pupils learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts. Using small animated films to make maths and other subjects easier to understand, BrainPop is a solid choice for grades K-12. And with the help of puzzles, Best Academy Online helping kids speed up their progress with primary school maths.
Starting getting into coding? Tynker is high up on the list offering courses for kids 5 years and older.
CuriosityStream is a video-on-demand streaming service which is offering subscription-based documentaries and series about science, nature, history, technology, society and lifestyle. If you are searching for the perfect courses for your kids, check out Outschool and Udemy which are offering thousands of online classes.
Khan Academy Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization to produce a set of online tools that help educate students. If you are getting seriously into home education, check out All-in-one Homeschooling which is a free home education curriculum from preschool activities to 12th grade.
Read our full article covering Homes Education Resources
YouTube channels great for learning
While we prefer organising family movie nights rather than letting the kids watch endless small movie snippets, there are some good educational channels on YouTube worth mentioning. We have installed the YouTube Kids app on their tablets, which does a good job of automatically filtering out content that is not age-appropriate.
We also use the Google Family Link app, which makes it easy to set time limits on the usage of each app. In terms of the YouTube Kids app, we find the content available on the main screen to be very random, making it difficult to curate a feed of videos from the channels that we have “pre-approved”. If there was a better solution for this, we would probably have used YouTube Kids more. We are also very sceptical towards exposing kids to advertising, which is another reason why we are micromanaging their use of this platform quite a bit.
YouTube Science & Space Channels
When it comes to science, we have been really impressed with Crash Course Kids, which is a bi-weekly show that is great for the whole family to watch together. Mike Likes Science is another solid choice, showing science-inspired music videos while Science Max is a series that is all about DIY experiments that you can test out at home. The Science Channel is covering a whole range of topics, keeping kids up to date on new technology and exploration. Last but not least, SciShow with millions of subscribers is a hugely popular channel producing easy-to-understand videos of complex science problems.
YouTube Nature & Geography Channels
Nature and animals have always been high up on our kids agenda, and the NatGeoKids channel is a wonderful channel that inspire kids to explore the natural world around them. We also really like Geofocus which is all about geography, and how planet earth and humanity interact. Brainscoop is an interesting channel that is sharing the work and research of natural history museums with the world.
YouTube Arts & Music Channels
Let your kids loose with the art projects on Art for kids hub which shows simple art instruction from a father and usually his son while Freeschool is a great place to introduce children to art and classical music.If your kids are into music, also check out Kids learning Tube which is teaching kids through music and animation in a fun and unique way.
Last but not least, no YouTube channel list for kids could leave out the hugely popular Cosmic Kids Yoga which is teaching kids yoga and mindfulness.
Intuitive educational games and apps
We find it really hard to sift through the thousands of mobile apps for kids available to download, narrowing down on the types of games that we think will be suitable for our kids. We generally avoid apps marked with “In-App Purchase” since it usually comes with constant reminders to spend money on add-ons, coins, subscriptions, premium features etc. This is often done sneakily, telling children to ask their parents to pay for upgrades.
Also, we much rather prefer paying for a quality app upfront instead of being bombarded with targeted ads for kids (in our opinion, personalised targeted ads towards children should be banned). On the other hand, there are some great games out there that can make a huge difference in terms of engaging children in learning. Here are some games that we can recommend:
Learning to Read through Games
Poio is an interactive and engaging game for Apple and Android allowing children to teach themselves how to read. The guys behind Dragonbox have also created the apps Numbers and Algebra giving kids a soft introduction to maths.
“..I can see how a deeper understanding of numbers can serve as a foundation for future mathematics, and I think DragonBox Numbers does a good job of it.”Geek Dad
As part of encouraging young kids to read, Literactive is a really useful provider of reading material for pre-school, nursery and grade 1 students available online.
Maths focused educational games
Happy Numbers is a game-based learning where kids get visual rewards of special creatures hatching from eggs and revealing new planets for having completed maths practice. Learn more about the amazing world of science by enjoying fun science experiments through New Zealand based Science for kids.
For 12-year-olds and under users, CoolMath4kids is an amusement park of games, lessons and more, designed to teach maths and make it FUN. For kids through 7th grade, Math Game Time is a great resource providing fun games to help kids understand and develop their maths skills.
More educational games for kids
- Abcya Over 400 fun and educational games categorized by grade and subject covering topics such as multiplication, parts of speech, typing, pattern recognition
- Funbrain offers hundreds of games, books, comics, and videos that develop skills in maths, reading, problem-solving and literacy
- Splashlearn StudyPad’s vision is to transform K-12 learning by making it fun and personalised for every child and to prepare them for skills required in 21st-century.
- Storyline Online The children’s literacy website, Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations
- PBS kids Educational games and videos from Curious George, Wild Kratts and other PBS KIDS shows
- Highlights kids Highlights for Children, often referred to simply as Highlights, is an American children’s magazine. The website is for children of all ages to play games and discover new jokes, surveys, answers to science questions, and fun crafts and recipes from Highlights
- Switch Zoo Switch Zoo has 142 species, and the website features additional animal games, music created from animal voices, a reference section, lesson plans, and poetry, stories and artwork created by students and other visitors.
- SeussVille The Cat in the Hat, Sam-I-Am, Horton and the Whos, and the rest of the Seuss characters welcome you to Seussville, Dr. Seuss’s playground in cyberspace
- Turtle Diary Anther interactive resource that can be really helpful inspiring kids to learn through different online tools such as games, videos and quizzes.
- e-learningforkids Free and fun digital education for children worldwide
- Seterra A fun, interactive geography game with quizzes your children can play with and learn about the world
Discover Trees and Plants with an App
GoogleLens A free app from Google that lets you look up which plant (or anything else for that matter) you’re looking at by taking a picture of it. We have used this while going to our local woodland park by first identifying the plant or tree with the app, and then pressing the leaves when we get home. It’s a nice way of combining digital and nature experiences, highly recommended!
Tree ID British Trees An interactive tree identification app from the Woodland Trust (UK woodland conservation charity). The app is not based on AI recognition like Google Lens but is still very useful as it takes you through a series of guides based on the trees’ features. It also works in offline mode which is great if you’re hiking in the wild without mobile network coverage.
Digital Resources from London’s Museums and Galleries
While pausing our usual London Museum Visits, we explored what the museums have to offer in terms of online resources dedicated to families and kids. We have been really impressed with the amount of online tools games, videos, VR-tours, quizzes and DIY projects they have put together for kids to enjoy from home. Even through the worst of crises, London’s museums are continuing to be of great support to families looking for inspiration for their children! Here are some of our favourite resources:
Tate Kids from London’s famous art gallery is dedicated to fun and creative projects for children. You’ll find lots of engaging activities for your kids, including quizzes, games and artistic DIY projects.
The Great Fire of London is a game created by the Museum of London where kids can help “Tom” and “Jane” through the dramatic days of the Great Fire of 1666. We just love these types of games that are really entertaining but also educational in a stealthy way.
Science Museum Group has created a range of learning resources for kids. We particularly like their DIY projects such as creating Rocket Mice. We are huge fans of the Science Museum, especially their Wonderlab gallery and can’t wait to test out their interactive games and apps.
Also, don’t forget to check out our list of VR tours of London attractions. Take a virtual tour of 10 of the best-known attractions in London from the comfort of your home.