The 16 best apps and games for kids (of all ages)

Parents! Welcome to your emergency holiday survival kit...

Kids apps

One of the hardest things about being parent these days is not being consumed with jealousy at all the amazing apps kids get to play with.

Of course, the flip-side to the boom in fun-ducational (and just plain fun) apps is that the options for keeping 'mini you' entertained on long holiday journeys are seemingly infinite.

Yet not all kid-focused apps and games are made equal. That's why, after weeks of testing on the Stuff team's eventual successors, we've narrowed down the most absorbing, ingenious apps for all age groups, from pre-schoolers and primary school kids, to bigger kids (including you). Time to start packing your suitcase's emergency fun kit...





Best apps for pre-schoolers: 1) Endless Alphabet

If you’ve tiny humans toddling about, chances are you’ll own some wooden puzzles where letters are slotted into a board. If you’re very fortunate, you’ll still actually have a few of the letters, rather than a sad infant pointing forlornly at gaps.

Endless Alphabet should take their minds off of such losses, with 60 words to sort by dragging letters about, and a bunch of amusing animations when each word is completed. There’s the odd Americanism lurking, but if you can hold yourself back from hurling your device from a moving car on seeing ‘odour’ lacking a 'u', you’ll be fine.

Download Endless Alphabet for iOS (£4.99)

Download Endless Alphabet for Android (£free + £4.91 IAP)

Download Endless Alphabet for Windows (£free + £3.89 IAP)

2) BBC iPlayer Kids

We love BBC iPlayer, but it’s a wee bit easy for kids to ‘accidentally’ end up watching something horrifying that will possibly scar them for life or, worse, get them interested in EastEnders. Hence BBC iPlayer Kids, which cunningly limits nippers to shows broadcast on CBeebies and CBBC.

Like standard iPlayer, there are no adverts, the interface is elegant and simple, search is fast, and you can download shows for offline playback. Which means, naturally, we felt honour-bound to thoroughly test the app for inclusion in these pages by watching 20 episodes of Danger Mouse back to back.

Download BBC iPlayer Kids for iOS (£free)

Download BBC iPlayer Kids for Android (£free)

3) Metamorphabet

As we all know, ‘A is for apple’, usually badly illustrated and, for most kids, followed by ‘B is for BORED NOW’. But Metamorphabet brings new life to learning the alphabet by way of imaginative, surreal and frequently disturbing animations.

It begins with an 'A'. Tap and it sprouts antlers you can ping about. The 'A' then transforms into an arch and goes for an amble. And that’s just the start. Next, you’re watching a giant 'B' with a bushy beard and a beak belching an endless stream of colourful bugs. It’s weird, creative, brilliant, and usable enough even for an 18-month-old to try their tiny hand at.

Download Metamorphabet for iOS (£2.99)

Download Metamorphabet for Android (£3.50)

4) My Very Hungry Caterpillar

The world’s most loved and gluttonous larva stars in a range of books with holes in, some of which have been awkwardly shoe-horned into apps. But this one’s different, coming across like a virtual pet.

It starts with an egg, which when hatched reveals the titular wriggler, who merrily scarfs down any food plonked in front of him. Then it’s playtime, which, depending on the season, might mean belly-sliding on an icy pond, frantically smacking a bouncy ball around, or popping bubbles. It’s all very charming, and once the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, we imagine your own little critter will want to start all over again.

Download My Very Hungry Caterpillar for iOS (£2.99)

Download My Very Hungry Caterpillar for Android (£free + £2.99 IAP)

Download My Very Hungry Caterpillar for Windows (£3.09)


5) Sago Mini Friends

There are loads of Sago apps for kids, but Mini Friends is particularly good. You choose a character and scoot about a neighbourhood, barging into people’s houses and then playing little mini-games.

These are simple enough for most kids — fix a birdhouse by smacking some nails into it; play dress-up; eat some snacks — and they cunningly promote empathy and sharing. For example, when two animals are sitting before a feast, lobbing all the noms at one of them makes the other look like it’s going to burst into tears. Only by sharing is everyone left in a happy place.

Download Sago Mini Friends for iOS (£free)

Download Sago Mini Friends for Android (£free)

Download Sago Mini Friends for Windows (£free)

6) Peek-a-Zoo

This single-screen app features a bunch of cartoon animals and initially looks a bit basic. But it’s really quite sneaky, offering a surprising amount of depth. The basic game involves your wee nipper identifying the correct cartoon animal, based on a simple clue. This might be a name, emotion, action, position or sound.

Once the correct character is prodded, a new scene appears. These won’t fail to bring a smile to a supervising parent’s face (assuming they’re not dead inside), such as a seal trying to make a phone call on a banana, or a pig ‘hiding’ on a pink background.

Download Peek-a-Zoo for iOS (£2.29)