12 Great Free Apps for Kids – Part 1

What’s your view on paying for children’s apps? Personally, I am prepared to pay for them in the same way as physical books or toys. I recognise that a lot of artistic and technical effort has (usually!) gone into creating them which doesn’t come free. In most cases, I am not a fan of free apps which then require in-app purchases or contain lots of advertising, especially for children. A one-off, upfront payment is definitely preferable.

But there are some great free apps available in the App Store, either permanently or on sale, and of course I take advantage when I see them. I find it is a good way to discover new developers, in the same way as trying a book by a new author and then discovering the rest of their work. Particularly as it is much harder to test out a book or toy in the App Store before you buy, compared to real world versions.

Here are some of our favourites. As far as I am aware they are all permanently free, but do let me know if you find that one has started charging. If you find a new one that you like, why not consider purchasing a further app from that developer?

Here’s Part 1 of my list – look out for Part 2 coming shortly!

Toca Kitchen Monsters by Toca Boca

Help! Two monsters need you to cook them dinner in their very messy kitchen. Choose from a selection of food in the fridge to chop, fry, boil, microwave or whizz in the food processor. Add salt and pepper, then feed the monsters and see what they think!

My children love experimenting to see which meals get the best and worst reactions. Putting lots of pepper on the monster fruit seems to get the most giggles.  Compatible with iPhone & iPad. 

Available from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/toca-kitchen-monsters/id510301841?mt=8

Magic Town by Mindshapes

Magic Town is a great platform for interactive picture books with lots of free content or an optional monthly/annual subscription. The stories live inside houses which can be moved around to personalise your town.

The free app alone has more than 15 permanently free stories and an additional daily (changing) story. It is very easy to use and features well-known books such as Elmer, the Little Princess, and Farmyard Tales. Different IDs can be set up for each child. If you like the free app enough to subscribe, for a limited time a monthly subscription costs £2.99 for access to over 80 stories, with more added every week. Compatible with iPad.

Available from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/magic-town-where-stories-live/id522680936?mt=8

Miss Spider’s Tea Party
by Callaway Digital Arts

In this lovely story, written and illustrated by David Kirk, Miss Spider really wants to host a tea party for her fellow bugs and insects, but everyone she approaches is too scared to attend.

There is an incredible amount of content here for a free app, from a turn-the-page storybook to an animated film version, matching game, painting and puzzles. The graphics and music are both excellent. The story also helps with counting from 1 to 12. Compatible with iPad.

Available from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/miss-spiders-tea-party/id457053561?mt=8

Toy Story by Disney

An excellent abridged version of the film, including original voices, clips and songs. There are two simple mini games (a parachute game and a maze) and several colouring pages.

For the most part, the integration of the original material within the storybook works well and the useful word highlighting helps children follow the story. Compatible with iPad.

Available from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/toy-story-read-along/id364376920?mt=8

Little Charley Bear by Studio Liddell

If you are all-too-familiar with the phrase “Are you there, Charley Bear?” then your child will love this app. It includes six short animated clips, such as jungle, space and circus adventures. There are sticker pages to complete half-way through each adventure to unlock the second half of the clip.

Small children may need help with double clicking to start each video, but after that it is very easy to use. Perfect for CBeebies-mad toddlers. Compatible with iPhone and iPad.

Available from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/little-charley-bear/id443451090?mt=8

Bee-Bot  by TTS Group

You may already be familiar with the Bee-Bot floor robots used in schools and preschools. Mr Tall loved programming these robots in preschool last year. We then found out that TTS Group have also produced two apps: this free one set in a garden, and a paid app set in the pyramids.

There are twelve timed levels, in which you program the Bee-Bot to find its way through the maze to the flower. The first few levels are simple, but by the end it does get quite tricky! Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

Available from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/bee-bot/id500131639?mt=8