The best way to get your parents to buy you expensive gadgets has always been to really sell the educational value. “But Mom, if you buy me a Nintendo, think about how much my spelling will improve playing Wheel of Fortune.” Of course, these days it’s all about the iPad. For every Angry Birds there’s an educational game out there to improve your child’s mind. Here are 40 of the best apps for your young Einstein. Most of them are paid apps, but if you’ve got $500 to drop on an iPad, we’re thinking you won’t mind.
- Math Evolve: Nominated for “Best Educational Game of 2011,” Math Evolve teaches the math basics through gameplay involving a dolphin shooting lasers at sea creatures.
- MathBoard: MathBoard works because of its highly-customizable features, like creating timed math quizzes or making quizzes out of questions answered incorrectly.
- Motion Math: “Putting the action in fraction,” Motion Math has players put fractions in order to help a fallen star move back into the sky.
- PopMath Basic Math: Match pairs of balloons that have the same value, using one of the four basic math skills to deduce the answer, and be treated to a very satisfying “pop.”
- Math Ninja HD: You know you’ve interested the boys with just the word “ninja.” You must protect your treehouse from an evil tomato by using math. OK then!
- Math Bingo Games — A Racing Game: Fun app for such a clunky title. Solve the math problems to keep your race car from crashing.
- Numbers League: Combining super heroes and comic book graphics with math was a stroke of genius. Kids and adults love this game.
- Bugs and Buttons: B&B helps pre-schoolers practice counting, but there’s also a bunch of fun, silly games paired with great graphics to keep them entertained.
Spelling and Reading
- Monkey Preschool Lunchbox: Teach your preschooler to spell with this colorful game where kids help primates prepare packaged provisions.
- Dr. Seuss’s ABC: Who better to teach your kids to spell than the legend himself? This award-winning app is a hit with parents and kids.
- Bookworm: This addicting word-search game is great for students who know how to spell and want to expand their vocabularies.
- Toy Story 3 Read-Along: Record your own voice for playback reading to your toddler, or let him or her fingerpaint or sing along with songs from the film.
- Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet iPad Edition: It’s never too early to expose your kids to the Bard. Well, 8 might be too early, but 9 and up is fine.
- SUPER WHY! for iPad: From PBS Kids, this app lets you play as any of the four characters from the TV show as they write, rhyme, read, and spell.
- iWriteWords: iWW lets youngin’s practice handwriting and have completed words read back to them. The colors are bright and the graphics are fun.
- Textropolis: Best for more-advanced spellers, players build up their own Textropolis by beating word-search games. Whole families play this one together.
- Star Walk: The amazing app comes to the iPad, enabling kids to tilt the screen to the night sky and learn what constellations they’re looking at.
- NASA App HD: For all the future astronauts out there, this app lets them keep track of space stations, launch progress, and agency news.
- Elements Quiz: If you’ve got a chemist in the making, download this cheap app with clean navigation of the periodic table.
- Discover Dinosaurs: What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? Tikes collect gold stars by beating quizzes on their way to becoming a T-Rexpert.
- Discover Your Body HD: Fun sound effects and bright graphics help kids figure out all those fun organs and body parts. Don’t worry, the reproductive system is not featured.
- I Learn with Poko: Seasons and Weather! HD: Poko is here to teach kids 3 to 7 about weather, seasons, and the calendar.
- Ultimate Dinopedia: Because kids love dinosaurs so much, here’s another great app with info and terrific artwork on 700+ dinos.
- soundAMP R: If your child is hard of hearing, download this app for him or her that will amplify every sound coming out of the iPad with crystal-clear quality.
- My First AAC: This app is designed to assist toddlers with speech disorders by letting them point to icons to produce words. Twenty-five bucks is a small price to pay to let your child express himself.
- Read2Go: People with difficulty reading traditional media are already familiar with Daisy e-reader books. This is the best app for reading them.
- Model Me Going Places 2: The “Model Me” series are designed for kids with autism or Asperger’s. This app teaches them appropriate behavior in various public settings.
- Speech with Milo: Verbs: A speech-language pathologist created this helpful app where Milo the mouse performs 100 actions, speaking the word upon completion of each.
- iReward: iReward is a tool to help parents motivate and reinforce the positive behavior of kids of all abilities, but especially developmentally challenged ones.
- The Moron Test: This app wouldn’t be worth introducing that word to your kids if it wasn’t so great. It’s part IQ test, part reflex test, and all fun.
- WeetWoo!: For $4 you get access to an extensive library of kid-friendly fun and educational videos collected by parents. Parents rave about this app.
- Fish School: Little synchronized swimming fish hold your kids’ attention while teaching them colors, letters, numbers, and shapes.
- Tangram XL: Here’s a free app that reproduces the simple joy of tangram puzzles. It’ll strengthen your child’s ability to determine spatial relationships.
- Nota for iPad: Kids as young as 4 can use this app to learn about musical notes, scales, octaves, chords, and more musicology.
- My PlayHome: In the 90s, we had Home Ec; today, kids have My PlayHome. It’s a great way for kids to explore and learn about the world of the home.
- Geo Walk HD — 3D World Fact Book: Hold the world in the palm of your hand with this app that lets you touch 500 places on the globe to bring up amazing facts about our planet and its inhabitants.
- Toontastic: Bring out your child’s creative side with this app that lets kids create their own cartoons about pirates, princes and princesses, and more.
- gFlash+ Flashcards & Tests: Great for any age of student, gFlash+ lets you create your own cards, share them across the web, and even quiz yourself from either side of the cards.
- iStart Spanish: Kids’ brains are like sponges; childhood is the easiest time to learn a language. iStart is the best app to help them do it.
- Brain Trainer by Lumosity.com: For kids of all ages, this app offers brain teasers to improve your memory and problem-solving skills.