Best Tablet-Based Games for Kids

The Best Tablet-Based Games for Kids

Kids tablet games from 'PBS Kids Games' to 'Toca Lab' to 'Monument Valley.'

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Moses found this out the hard way: Come home with a tablet and your kids are going to want to play tablet-based games with it. That specific type of play may once have been miraculous, but it has become inevitable, and — as more information about the effects of screen time becomes public — worrisome. Still, it’s not all bad. Lots of tablet games for kids are fun and genuinely interesting. So, instead of having your child toss pissed-off chickens into shabby towers, seek out what the great stuff developers across the world are cooking up. Here are the best games and best developers out there right now.

Endless Alphabet

Best For: The Kid Who Wants to Ride a Thesaurus

The Game: The Endless Games series has made a slew of innovative, cute games for young children who are learning, and developing their skills to read and speak. Alphabet stands out because it gives kids 100 different words to play with and teaches the definitions in playful ways. The game feels urgent despite not having a scoring mechanism, which makes the whole thing feel a lot less stressful. It’s a word game in the most traditional sense. It’s purely playful. 

Android

Buy Now (Free)

iTunes

Buy Now (Free)

RELATED: The 9 Best Tablets for Kids

PBS Kids Games

Best For: The Kid Who Feels for Others

The Game: PBS has a great wealth of educational and development apps based on their shows, notably Nature Cat and Daniel Tiger. Their games app combines the wide range of popular PBS Kids characters into one app through various mini-games. It’s more of a PBS theme park (something someone should definitely build) than a game, but it immerses children in the PBS ecosystem. That’s a good thing. Screen time may not be great, but PBS screen time at least teaches kids to be empathic.

Android

Buy Now (Free)

iTunes

Buy Now (Free)

MORE: This Pint-Sized Treadmill Wears Out Kids with Video Games

Toca Lab: Plants

Best For: The Kid Who Talks to Cacti

The Game: Another great tablet-based developer, Toca Boca creates engaging gender-neutral games and stays clear of in-app purchases and third-party ads. Everything they make is appropriate for all ages, candy-colored, and profoundly fun. Toca Lab: Plants isn’t substantively better or different than the other games. It’s just worth mentioning because it involves plants and the world is full of those. When kids get excited about plants, they tend to stay excited. There are worse things than raising a budding horticulturalist.

Buy: Google, iOS

Android

Buy Now $3

iTunes

Buy Now $3

Where’s My Water

Best For: The Dirty Kid

The Game: Swampy is an alligator who wants to take a bath, and it’s up to kids to help the reptile find clean water for his bath. By solving puzzles and separating water from dirt, oil, and other types of gunk, kids will have to gather every drop for the filthy gator. The game is notable for having both great mechanics — it’s easy but still fun — and a really solid lesson: Getting clean is fun and important. This is a lesson many parents will happily endorse.

Android

Buy Now (Free)

iTunes

Buy Now $2

Sago Mini World

Best For: The Kid Who’s Always Ready for the Next Thing

The Game: Sago Mini World is the hub app for all 24 Sago Mini Games. Players can choose any Sago game individually or get access to the entire library for $36 through the World app. It’s a bit pricey, but that’s definitely the way to go because the games are fun, easy to learn, and plentiful enough that they don’t become deeply boring. From giving puppies a bath to controlling a flying super bunny solving problems, or a driving a dump truck with a hamster, you can’t go wrong with any Sago game.

Android

Buy Now (Free with in-App Purchases)

iTunes

Buy Now (Free with in-App Purchases

Monument Valley

Best For: The Weird Artsy Kid on the Make

The Game: It’s a popular game with adults for a reason. Monument Valley is beautiful, difficult, and endlessly surprising. The game asks players to explore optical illusions that feel both very real and hauntingly uncanny. For a determined kid or a kid who enjoys spatial reasoning, the game is a blast. The only issue is that it has few natural breaks and will, therefore, have to be wrenched forcefully from the player’s hands.

Android

Buy Now $4

iTunes

Buy Now $4

Sesame Street

Best For: The Kid Who Aspires to Be a Tall Bird

The Game: Kids can sing with music clips, learn the alphabet, count, or just watch clips from Sesame Street in this expansive app that can entertain your toddler while you get those dishes done. It’s like an extension of the series, thanks to original mini-games and clips that you can pull up without having to search YouTube. (Truth be told, it’s less of a tablet game than a multimedia experience, but it’s on here because it’s excellent.)

Android

Buy Now (Free)

iTunes

Buy Now (Free)

Drawing Pad

Best For: The Kid Who Ruined the Drapes

The Game: This traditional Drawing Pad app lets your kid unleash their art skills without ever leaving a huge mess. Choose from crayons, color pencils, construction paper, brushes and so many more art tools to create works of art. Plus, you can store and share every doodle instantly through the app.

Buy: Google, iOS

Buy Now $2

iTunes

Buy Now $2

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