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40 of the Best Smart Phone Apps for Kids and Parents

Published on: March 12, 2013

iPhone apps for kids

Imagine: You’re stuck in line at the grocery store when your 4-year-old starts his pre-meltdown routine. As he’s winding up for an epic shriek fest, you suavely whip out your phone and punch up “Sneezies.” Seconds later, the crisis is averted.

Hey, it could happen. Though we would never recommend buying a smart phone for a 4-year-old, there are plenty of fantastic learning apps out there for when you’re in need of a quick boredom fix. And besides great games for kids, there’s a passel of amazing apps for parents, too! Read further for 40 of our favorite apps for kids and parents.

Not listed?
Do you have a favorite app not listed here? Please add your suggestions in the comments below -- we're busy working on our favorite apps lists for those phones as well!

Want more in app fun? Be sure to check out:
35 Windows Phone apps for kids and parents
30 of the best educational Android apps for kids

Local apps we love
Woodland Park Zoo iPhone app1. Woodland Park Zoo. Perfect for critter lovers who visit the zoo regularly. This app features GPS maps of the zoo; fun facts, photos and sounds of the zoo’s many animals; an updated schedule of all daily events; a friend finder; and much more. iPhone, Android. $0.99

Seattle Public Library iPhone app2. Seattle Public Library. The SPL Mobile app is a must-have for all of you book borrowers out there. Search SPL’s entire catalog, put new reads on hold, ask a librarian a question or find upcoming events and story times. iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm, Symbian and J2ME. Free

Seattle Freeways iPhone app3. Seattle Freeways. Perfect for commuting families, this app offers real-time traffic conditions and advisories throughout the Puget Sound area. You’ll know exactly where there are accidents or roadwork up ahead, and have access to border crossing times, mountain pass reports, travel times and traffic maps to get you home safely. iPhone. $2.99

Chinook Book iPhone app4. Chinook Book. Coupon lovers, rejoice! Redeem your Chinook Book coupons on the go by simply showing your coupon preview screen to the merchant. Purchase coupon packs that are valid throughout the Puget Sound region, track how much you’ve saved and find coupons that are close to your current location. iPhone, Android. Free

Seattle Savings Guide iPhone app5. Seattle Savings Guide. Save yourself some money on a variety of local businesses, including restaurants, coffee shops, auto services, hair salons and more. Track your overall savings, check out daily coupons or call the merchant at the click of a button.  Long gone are the days of clipping coupons! The latest upgrade adds notifications when new businesses come online. iPhone. $0.99

Hiking with My Brother iPhone app6. Hiking with My Brother. A must-have for local hikers! Created by two brothers who love hitting the trails, this app offers reviews on Washington hiking trails, detailed pros and cons, maps, photos and plenty of insider info. Iphone. Free


Tide App iPhone app7. Tide App. If you love playing on the beach at low tide as much as we do, you’ll certainly love this app. Check for low and high tide times near your location, view tide charts for updated information and search for tide reports anywhere in the world. iPhone, Android. Free

Seattle's Best Dining iPhone app8. Seattle’s Best Dining. Searching for a new kid-friendly restaurant in your neighborhood? This app includes more than 135 Eastside and Seattle local restaurants, insider tips and great user reviews. The latest version refreshes listings so you always have current information. iPhone. $2.99

One Bus Away iPhone app9. One Bus Away. For the urban family that buses it to work and school, this app will help you never miss another bus! See if your bus is running late with real-time arrival information and search for stops near you by route, address or stop number. Definitely one of our most-used apps. iPhone, Android. Free


Great apps for parents
Runpee Smartphone app10. RunPee. Tells you the best times to take a bathroom break at the movies. Just choose your movie and leave your phone on vibrate, and the app will vibrate to alert you of the best “pee-time.” When you get back, it will summarize what happened while you were gone. iPhone, Android, Windows. $0.99.

Artkive Smartphone app11.  Artkive. Take photos of your kids’ artwork, tag your photo with his or her name, grade, date, and title; and share with family and friends or turn the art into a book, mug, or other personalized tchotchke. iPhone. Free. 


allrecipes smartphone app

12. Dinner Spinner. If you’re in need of some quick weekday dinner fixes, check out the thousands of recipes that this app has to offer. Plus, shaking your phone to activate the dinner spinner for random meal selections is super-fun! Free


WebMD Mobile iPhone app13. WebMD Mobile. This app includes an in-depth symptoms checker, an essential first aid guide, a database full of various drugs and treatments, plus local health listings for anywhere in the world. Expert advice when you may need it most. Several other WebMD apps are available. iPhone, Android. Free

MyStarbucks iPhone app14. MyStarbucks. For the on-the-go mama who needs a daily caffeine pick-me-up, this app is for you! Browse for open locations and drive-throughs, check the calories on your favorite treats, and more — in any city. iPhone, Android. Free


Food Additivites 2 iPhone app15. Food Additives 2. Avoid potentially harmful food additives by checking up on those pesky, unidentifiable ingredients found in the grocery aisle. This app includes an extensive database of additives, potential health risks, background information on each additive and more. iPhone. $3.99

Total Baby iPhone app16. Total Baby. Chosen by Apple as a Staff Favorite, this baby-tracking app includes all of the reminders, scheduling capabilities and timers that you may need to help you see your baby’s progress — anywhere, at any time. Total Baby works both on and offline, making access to your records a piece of cake! The latest version enhances a “day/night” sleep feature. iPhone. $4.99

Grocery Gadget iPhone app17. Grocery Gadget. Compare product prices at different stores, find the correct aisles, get redeemable e-coupons and even sync up your shopping list with your spouse’s. You’ll never have to worry about forgetting that grocery list again. iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Nokia, Windows. $3.99

Disneyland Wait Times iPhone app18. Disneyland Wait Times. Planning a trip to “the happiest place on earth” this year? Check out all of your favorite rides' wait times as they update in real time to avoid long lines, or use the GPS maps of the park to see where you should go next. iPhone. Free

Relax Melodies iPhone app19. Relax Melodies. Need a little R & R? This app comes with 35 soothing sounds, an alarm clock and a fade-out so that you can continue sleeping peacefully throughout the night. Perfect for nap times. iPhone, Android, Windows. Free


Nifty apps for kids

fish school app

 20. Fish School. Children will love to learn while playing with colorful schools of fish which magically transform themselves into different letters, numbers, shapes, colors and more. iPhone. (Ages 4 and older; $1.99)

Heckerty App

21. Heckerty. This 409-year-old, upside-down-on-her-broomstick witch enchants children 4 and older with stories that teach them to recognize words and develop their vocabulary.  iPhone, Android. (Ages 4 and older; Free) 

Math Doodles App22. Math Doodles. Keep your kids busy doing math! Math Doodles offers simple math games exploring different concepts for children of all ages. iTunes. ($2.99)


Dr. Seuss apps

23. Dr. Seuss Books. The book apps feature original text and illustrations combined with realistic sound effects, professional narration (or your own) and custom background audio. In addition, individual words are highlighted as the story is read and words zoom up and are spoken when pictures are touched.  iPhone, Android. (Ages 3 and older; From $3.99 to $4.99)

Peekaboo Barn app

24. Peekaboo Barn. Voted Best Toddler App Ever at the 2009 MacWorld Expo, Peekaboo Barn helps children learn about animals in English or Spanish and hear the sounds that they make. Your child will love opening the barn doors to discover each animal inside. iPhone. (Ages 3 and older; $1.99, lite version Free)

iFish Pond iPhone app25. iFish Pond. Feed and catch an interactive school of fish in your very own iFish Pond! Featuring a relaxing forest ambience, this app offers true-to-life effects and pond creatures, such as dragonflies, frogs, turtles and more. iPhone. (All ages; $1.99)

Jirbo Match: Child Development Edition iPhone app26. Jirbo Match: Child Development Edition. Refine those motor skills with this adorable matching game. This app offers pairs of cute cartoonish animals, such as pandas, chicks and puppies, in a classic learning game. iPhone. (Ages 1–10; Free)


Sneezies iPhone app27. Sneezies. Drop sneezing powder into a field of floating “sneezies” and try to rescue as many as you can before they sneeze themselves out of their bubbles! This super-cute app contains 60 levels, relaxing music and fantastic animation. iPhone. (Ages 5 and older; $1.99)

Wheels on the Bus iPhone app28. Wheels on the Bus. Named the 2010 Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner by Parents’ Choice Foundation, this app includes the classic children’s song with interactive illustrations, fun new characters, and a variety of music and language capabilities. iPhone, Android (Ages 3–6; $0.99)

FingerPiano iPhone app29. FingerPiano. You don’t have to be an experienced musician to play this tiny piano well! Simply follow the included scrolling guides to play more than 88 well-known, classic songs — with either one or two hands. iPhone. (All ages; $1.99)

Toddler Flashcards iPhone app30. Toddler Flashcards. Learn basic words — in English, French or Spanish — with these wonderful mobile flashcards for tots. These bilingual cards include sounds and pictures of animals, letters, numbers, foods and more. iPhone. (Ages 1–4; $1.99)

Colorama iPhone app31. Colorama. Spark your creativity with the silly illustrations in this animated coloring book. With more than 500 drawings available, this Seattle-made app is easy for children to use and will be great for plane or road trip entertainment. iPhone. (Ages 3–8; $0.99)

Goofy Mad Libs iPhone app32. Goofy Mad Libs. Fill in the blanks with silly nouns and adjectives in this interactive word game. Helpful word hints for younger users are included with all 23 stories. The latest version, set to launch in November, includes retina graphics and photo capability. iPhone.  (Ages 5 and older; $3.99)

I See Ewe iPhone app33. I See Ewe. Explore more than 50 shapes, colors, objects and animals in this interactive educational app. Adjustable levels of difficulty, verbal prompts and four different languages are included. The latest version corrects issues in Chinese and enhances graphics. iPhone. (Ages 3 and older; $0.99)

Wacky Safari iPhone app34. Wacky Safari. Head out on a safari with five interactive activities. Mix and match animal photos, learn fun facts and jokes, hear a variety of animal sounds and even call your favorite critters using the Wacky Phone. iPhone. (Ages 2 and older; $0.99, free version available “A Wacky Safari Free”)

Elmo's Monster Maker iPhone app35. Elmo’s Monster Maker. Make your own Sesame Street monster and watch as he — or she — comes alive to dance and play with Elmo. This app is a must-have for Sesame Street fans! iPhone. Ages 2–8; $3.99)

Highlights Hidden Pictures iPhone app36. Highlights Hidden Pictures. Search for hundreds of hidden objects in the variety of featured interactive illustrations and see the objects light up with bright colors as you find them! Helpful hints are also just a touch away when needed. iPhone. (Ages 4–8; $1.99)

Word Search Kids iPhone app37. Word Search Kids. Challenge yourself in this interactive word search for kids with three levels of difficulty. Word Search Kids includes adorable graphics, fun sounds and a variety of puzzles offer hours of entertainment for kids. The latest version adds words and features three board sizes. iPhone. (Ages 6 and older)

Mr. Veggie Head iPhone app38. Mr. Veggie Head. Create a face for eggplant farmer John and dress him up in this Mr. Potato Head–esque classic game. Hear more than 50 funny sounds from nearby farm animals, crank up the tractor or shake the device to create a barnyard earthquake! iPhone. (Ages 3 and older; $1.99) 

Math Magic iPhone app39. Math Magic.  Get a start on your math skills with this interactive app that includes adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing problems. Math Magic features adjustable levels of difficulty and rewards for right answers. iPhone. (Ages 3–8; $0.99)


Skee-Ball iPhone app40. Skee-Ball. It’s the classic game of skee-ball! Simply flick the screen to aim your ball and earn carnival tickets to redeem for fun prizes in the gift store. iPhone (All ages; $0.99)

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