10 PBS KIDS Apps to Download in 2019

Posted by Laura Dimock on

Creating games that allow the digital and real worlds to come together for kids is a real win at PBS KIDS. We talked to Abby Jenkins, senior director of digital content, to find out what’s important when designing games and apps for kids.

“Before we start designing anything, we start with what is the learning goal that we want to build a game around,” she says. “If it’s about science inquiry or a math concept, we start there and think, what are the ways to play the game that would best get at that concept.”

Throughout the game development process, Abby and her team conduct play testing sessions, where kids try out the games to see what works well and what could be improved. The team wants to see how engaging the games are, as well as making sure kids of different abilities and ages can figure out how to play the game. “The hope is that it is designed very intuitively and they can figure it out without too much support.”

“We’ve also learned that kids don’t like it when a game is too easy — they like a challenge,” Abby continues. “For example, in the Wild Kratts app, kids have to tilt the device to get the orangutan to swing from branch to branch. This one kid at testing was having a hard time getting it, but he was smiling. So we asked him why he was smiling and he sighed and said, ‘I love this game because it is SO HARD!’ So that means he wasn’t totally failing, but there was enough that he wanted to keep at it and keep going. That’s a win. They want it to be a challenge.”

Here are 10 apps the PBS KIDS team recommends to download for all your kids’ interests. All apps are available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.

If your kid is into science, check out:

  • Play and Learn Science, where kids can play with shadows, control the weather, roll and slide objects down a ramp, choose the best materials for an umbrella — all while building science inquiry skills, exploring the real world and learning core science concepts. Available in English and Spanish. Cost: Free
  • Cat in the Hat Builds That, which introduces Pre-K kids to science inquiry and engineering concepts through games that are tailored to their learning process. Kids can build bridges, explore friction through slides and sort fun objects and tools in fantastical lands. Available in English and Spanish. Cost: Free

For the creative child who likes to pretend play, try:

  • Pinkalicious Party, where children use their imagination and creativity to plan and design a party with Pinkalicious and her friends that is uniquely their own. The app boosts learning about the arts with open-ended experiences that let kids explore the visual arts, music and the creative process of art-making. Cost: $2.99
  • Explore Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood encourages open-ended, imaginative play as children visit familiar places and create stories about their friend Daniel Tiger. It’s like playing in a digital dollhouse where you can turn the lights on and off, open and close doors, give Daniel food to eat and much more. Cost: $2.99

Need an app for learning about sharing or working on what to do with mad feelings? Download:

  • Daniel Tiger for Parents, made for important social-emotional skills and many more of life’s little lessons! It features songs, videos and helpful hints from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood to empower parents and caregivers to help children with the important skills they need to be ready for school and life. Available in English and Spanish. Cost: Free

If your kid likes math games, try:

  • Peg + Cat Tree Problem, where they can help Cat get down from a tree. This app offers a series of games designed to encourage children to engage in creative problem solving and practice early math skills. There are 10 different worlds and 50 levels that become increasingly challenging. And they encourage persistence! Cost: $2.99

For games to help with reading, spelling and learning the ABCs, download:

  • Super Why! Power to ReadSuper Why and the Super Readers are here to help your child with the critical skills they need to learn to read (and love to read!). Your child can play along with each of the four Super Readers from the show, while practicing the alphabet, rhyming, spelling, writing and reading. Cost: $3.99

If your kid loves learning about animals, check out:

  • Splash and Bubbles Ocean Adventure. Join Splash, Bubbles and other friends on a journey to the world’s undersea habitats, where kids will discover and learn about the many different ways plants and animals thrive in the ocean. Then they can use the animals and plants they find to build and decorate their own ocean! Cost: $2.99
  • Wild Kratts Rescue Run. Kids can run, jump, fly, and swim through 24 action-packed levels, rescue animals, and face-off against villains. They will learn about animals and their habitats while using problem solving skills to choose different creature power suits, each with their own unique creature power! Cost: $2.99

And if your child wants to play everything, try:

  • PBS KIDS Games, which has over 120 games to play! This app features games from your kid’s favorite shows, including Daniel Tiger’s NeighborhoodWild KrattsDinosaur Train, and many more. New games are added all the time, encouraging your child to engage in skills related to science, math, creativity and more. Cost: Free
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