kids-apps.jpg
(Credit: Shutterstock / arrowsmith2)

Every moment can be a learning opportunity with our picks for the best educational apps for preschool- and kindergarten-age children. So before you hand your child your iPhone, iPad, or Android device to watch a cartoon in the car, over a long flight, or when you must step away for a minute, why not make the most of their time with the best apps for early learning? These kids apps are easy to pick up, provide a wealth of knowledge, and retain children's interest with an engaging interface, arresting sounds, and memorable characters. Best of all, these kids apps are so entertaining that your kids won't even know they're learning.

SEE: Be wise with the best educational apps for Mac and Windows

Learn ABC's

Endless Alphabet (Android, iOS)

One of the best apps for kids is Endless Alphabet, which turns learning to read into a fun game that young children will enjoy. There are 100 words to learn, with each word featuring an interactive puzzle game complete with talking letters and a brief animation demonstrating each definition. To keep things fun and stress-free, your child can play at their own pace without fear of being graded -- A, B, or C.

endless-alphabet.png

Learn to read

Homer - Learn to Read Program (Android, iOS)

Homer is a great app that gets kids super excited about reading by tailoring its thousands of learn-to-read stories, lessons, and activities to their reading level and their interests, such as science, history, art, and music. The app's personalized learn-to-read plans also grow with each child, getting progressively harder as they age from toddler to age eight and their reading level significantly improves.

homer.png

LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary (Android, iOS)

"Roots" and "Star Trek" actor LeVar Burton encouraged young kids to read for 13 years on the multiple-Emmy-winning "Reading Rainbow" public television show. He continues his literacy mission today with the highly immersive LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary app for mobile devices, one of the best apps for kids. With the app, kids win access to hundreds of books with recommendations tailored to their ages and interests and brought to life with interactive animations. Kids can either be the readers, or if they're shy, be read to, and parents can track their children's progress with an in-app dashboard.

skybrary.png

Learn math

Moose Math by Duck Duck Moose (Android, iOS)

Moose Math makes learning to count to 100, addition, subtraction, sorting, algebra, geometry, and measurements feel fun for younger children with five multilevel activities, including running a juice shop and rummaging through a lost and found surrounded by a slew of kooky characters. Parents can monitor their kids' progress in the free app's Report Card section.

moose-math.png

Math Bingo (iOS)

The popular Math Bingo app tasks users with creating a pattern of five Bingo Bugs in a row by correctly solving math problems. There are five bingo games around Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Mixed problems with three levels of difficulty, from easy to hard, with bonus games to boot. Each time you earn a high score, based on time to complete a game and number of correct and incorrect answers, you'll win Bingo Bugs to play.

math-bingo.png

Learn problem-solving

Puzzingo (Android, iOS)

Completing puzzles is an exercise that's both fun and educational. The Puzzingo app features puzzles covering core concepts like shapes, colors, numbers, food, and ABCs and topics like animals, cars, princesses, dinosaurs, and trains. The animated and sound-heavy puzzles have each piece named, so kids are learning new words, along with spatial recognition, fine motor, memory, and cognitive skills, as they play. Each time your child solves a puzzle, they're rewarded with extra fun mini-games. Puzzingo uses professional illustrators and voice actors and supports English, British English, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese, so it's great for second-language learning. Parents like it, too -- so we hear.

puzzingo.png

Busy Shapes & Colors (Android, iOS)

Teaching kids the names of 11 shapes and colors, the educational and fun-to-play Busy Shapes & Colors app makes sure the kids keep going with new challenges to sharpen their fine motor skills and cute penguin animations to amuse them. Children can concentrate on colors, shapes, or a mix of the two. Or if they need to learn at a slower pace, the "practice mode" enables them to focus on just one shape or color at a time.

busy-shapes-and-colors.png

FOLLOW Download.com on Twitter for all the latest app news.

Learn emotions

Daniel Tiger's Grr-ific Feelings (Android, iOS)

PBS Kids series "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood," created by the Fred Rogers Company, the folks behind "Mister Rogers Neighbourhood," has been a hit with kids since 2012, and like "Mister Rogers Neighbourhood," encourages kids to learn about and express their emotions in a healthy way. The Daniel Tiger's Grr-ific Feelings app is an extension of the PBS Kids show, helping fans of the show -- or any child, for that matter -- to familiarise themselves with their feelings in a non-threatening way using interesting characters, music, and activities.

daniel-tiger.png

Learn everything

Khan Academy Kids (Android, iOS)

Why choose one subject matter for your child to learn when they can learn reading, vocabulary, writing, math, social-emotional development, problem-solving, and motor development, through thousands of guided interactive activities included in the Khan Academy app? Developed by Khan Academy, a nonprofit, with a mission to provide a "free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere," in collaboration with experts at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, Khan Academy Kids provides a personalized, fun, and joyful learning experience. Parents will be glad to track their children's progress in the app.

khan-academy-kids.png

Also see

Joshua is an editor for CNET's Download.com. He covers the mobile tech and apps that power our lives and interviews celebrities about their favorite apps. Previously, he worked as an editor at Healthline and Gay.com and as a contributing writer for Mac Directory, MacAddict, SF Weekly, SF Examiner, and SF Chronicle.