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The best free educational apps for kids

Being asked to suddenly be a teacher to your kids is hard, even when you have access to reliable internet. Yes, there are lots of resources out there, but they can add up, even if many are offering free trials for a limited time. Just trying to figure out what will work for a four-year-old versus an eight-year-old is time-consuming.

With all that in mind, we put together some of the best free education apps out there. The majority are always free, though there are a couple on the list that are only free on a short-term basis. Hopefully, at least one of these apps will keep the kids entertained long enough for you to catch your breath for a couple of minutes.

Many subjects

Khan Academy and Khan Academy Kids

Khan Academy has thousands of lessons in dozens of languages. You can do deep dives into cosmology, ancient civilizations, the branches of government, cryptography, and far too many more to mention. A progress tracker lets you know how far you’ve advanced in a particular topic. The app for younger kids has cute cartoon animals, music, and lots of activities. There are books (you can either choose to have them read to you or read on your own), coloring and drawing options, and videos about math and other subjects. There are also reading, math, and logic activities. Everything is accessible from the library menu in the top corner, while the main screen is more focused on short games for kids. Khan Academy has some additional resources, like suggested schedules, for school closures.

Ages: Khan Academy Kids is for ages two to six; Khan Academy is for older kids through high school.  

Subjects: The kids’ app is focused on math, reading, and social learning. The older students’ app has math (everything from arithmetic to calculus), science (including biology, physics, and chemistry), economics, arts and humanities (like grammar and history), and computing.

Available on: Android, iOS, and Amazon (Khan Academy Kids) and Android and iOS (Khan Academy)

BrainPop and BrainPop Jr.

BrainPop and BrainPop Jr. are apps that cover a wide variety of topics. Its science videos might showcase the life cycle of plants, temperature, or hibernation (for younger kids) or potential energy, metabolism, or Jane Goodall. Follow-up activities, like quizzes, help reinforce concepts. Everything is well-organized and easy to navigate. Usually, a subscription is required but BrainPop is offering free access to its content during school closures. (You’ll need to get the free login through the website, instead of the app.)

Ages: BrainPop Jr. is for kindergarteners through third graders; BrainPop is for older elementary and middle school students. (Help for high schoolers is coming soon.)

Subjects: Math, science, social studies, art and music, health, engineering and tech, and English

Available on: Android, iOS, Amazon, Windows Store (for BrainPop) and Android, iOS, Amazon, and Windows (for BrainPop Jr.)

PBS Kids Games

Chances are, your kid is already familiar with at least a few PBS characters, from Molly of Denali, Sesame Street, or Clifford the Big Red Dog. Their faves can help them find shapes, learn to count, or go on a museum hunt for historic figures. There isn’t a good way to narrow down the long list of games in this app by age or subject, but if you click on a show, then tap the “grownups button,” the description with provide an age range and goals the games focus on, like social and emotional growth, literacy, or science.

Ages: Two to six

Subjects: Science, reading, math, social and emotional growth, creativity, music, social studies

Available on: Android, iOS, and Amazon

Math

Moose Math

Duck Duck Moose is an education company that is now part of Khan Academy. In this math-focused app, kids help a burly moose and his friends do various tasks around town. They’ll use counting to help make juice or find hidden animals. There’s also a shape game and a couple of games that use addition and subtraction. The five games have different levels, but your child will have to progress through them instead of skipping ahead.

Ages: Kindergarten and first graders

Available on: Android, iOS, and Amazon

Prodigy 

This app is a story mixed with math. You start by customizing your wizard, then move on to battling monsters (in a cute way). The types of math problems you need to solve are based on the level you select at the start. A fourth-grader might be asked about trapezoids or tell time on a clock in order to successfully cast a spell.

Ages: First through eighth-graders.  

Available on: Android and iOS

Science

NASA

Aspiring astronauts will be thrilled with the amount of space content at their fingertips, thanks to NASA’s app. They can explore news, watch videos, and learn about past and present missions. Naturally, there are lots of amazing images as well.

Ages: Older elementary school and up

Available on: Android, iOS, and Amazon

NSF Science Zone

The National Science Foundation created this app, which is a collection of impressive images and interesting videos. There are a few ways of navigating around, but beyond some broad categories (like biology or engineering), things are kind of jumbled together. The search function can be helpful, but scrolling around also leads you to some great content, like videos on mountain lions in California or advances in ocean rescue.

Ages: Older elementary school and up

Available on: Android and iOS

Plum’s Creaturizer

This fun augmented reality app lets kids dream up all sorts of creative critters. The creatures are a mashup of body parts from several animals, so you might end up with a whale tale, kangaroo appendages, and butterfly wings. Once you’ve created the creature, you’ll use your phone’s camera to send it on missions, like finding food or creating a home for its babies. These missions might need to be followed up with explanations of why different body parts are suited to different environments, as the app doesn’t offer much guidance.

Ages: Four and up

Available on: iOS

Play and Learn Science 

Yet another PBS app, this one focuses on science games. The topics include water, motion, shadows, and weather. Though the games are engaging, they also teach problem-solving in addition to scientific concepts. In Thirsty Doggie, you have to use a variety of objects to direct the flow of water into a pup’s bowl. It gets progressively harder as you move up in levels.

Ages: Two and up

Available on: Android and iOS

Coding

ScratchJr

Scratch is a programming language from MIT, and this app introduces kids to it in a fun, intuitive way. Coding blocks help them make connections between a command and its outcome. They can create animations, decorate backgrounds, and add in their voices and photos. Older kids might want to start with regular Scratch.

Ages: Five and up

Available on: Android, iOS (iPad only), Amazon

Hopster Coding Safari

This logic-building app has adorable visuals and an easy-to-grasp premise. Create a path from pieces with different twists and turns so cute woodland creatures can get from one spot to another. The path gets more complex the more levels you do.  

Ages: Four and up

Subscription required? No.

Available on: iOS

Knowin

For kids who are interested in a variety of programming languages, Knowin is a good place to start. It has lessons for JavaScript, Swift, Python, and Bash. They start with the basics and move on from there. It will help kids become proficient in the lingo, for when they’re ready to move on to creating their own projects.

Ages: Older elementary school and up

Subscription required? No.

Available on: iOS

Reading

Libby

Libraries are the best, but a lot of them are closed right now. If you have a library card, you can still access your branch’s digital resources, including movies, audiobooks, and even digitized picture books. The app was made by OverDrive, so if your library uses that system for ebook and audiobook lending, you should have access to Libby. While this app doesn’t actually teach kids how to read, it will hopefully give them plenty of material to read or listen to.

Ages: 2 and up

Subscription required? No.

Available on: Android, iOS, Windows

Language

Droplets 

Simple graphics and a focus on the basics make this a good choice for beginning language learners, especially because you can’t set your level beyond beginner or intermediate. Still, there’s a good mix of tasks that will keep kids entertained. There are a few dozen languages to choose from, from French to Portuguese to Vietnamese. A word of warning: The free version only lets you play for five minutes before locking you out for 10 hours.

Ages: Older elementary and up

Subscription required? No.

Available on: Android and iOS

Duolingo

With over 30 languages, Duolingo has lots of educational games, whether you want to learn Hawaiian, Greek, or Spanish. To start, you’ll take a placement test, so the app can serve up content tailored to your knowledge level. Then you’ll practice listening, reading, vocabulary, and pronunciation. There are lots of levels to progress through and a variety of ways to practice the ins and outs of a language. Please note that the free version is ad-supported.

Ages: 13 and up

Subscription required? No.

Available on: Android and iOS

Art

Superhero Comic Book Maker and Draw and Tell

These two apps from Duck Duck Moose have similar functionality but different themes. Draw and Tell is more general, while Superhero Comic Book Maker has monsters and caped crusaders. Both let kids scribble away with digital markers and crayons, but also use stickers and color in drawings. They can save any creations they’re particularly proud of.

Ages: Three and up

Subscription required? No.

Available on: iOS only (Superhero Comic Book Maker, Draw and Tell)

Google Arts & Culture

If you’ve always wanted to explore the museums of Moscow, Vienna, and New York, the Google Arts & Culture app is a good place to start. It has collections from hundreds of museums, from Japan’s Ohara Museum of Art to The Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa. There are lots of other activities in the app as well, whether you want to take a foodie tour of Spain, learn to strike a pose like Misty Copeland, or get Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons from The British Library.

Ages: Older elementary and up

Subscription required? No.

Available on: Android and iOS

Gym

GoNoodle

With a deep catalogue of all sorts of high-energy videos, GoNoodle can keep cooped-up kids entertained for weeks. The app is a little haphazard if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but check out a few videos and you’ll get the hang of it. Some videos are just a couple minutes long, while others (like Indoor Recess) string together several clips for 15 to 20 minutes of movement. One of our personal favorites is Blazer Fresh, who is self-described as nerdy by nature and will teach your child how to sing the alphabet backward.

Ages: Five to 12

Subscription required? No.

Available on: Android and iOS

Super Stretch Yoga

If you want your kids up and moving but in a tranquil way, Super Stretch Yoga is great for younger kids. Instead of introducing them to complicated yoga poses, the app has videos of tots doing modifications based on things found in nature, like mouse pose or eagle pose. The video snippets don’t last long, but they could help with flexibility and balance.

Ages: Two and up

Subscription required? No.

Available on: iOS

Sworkit

This is actually an all-ages app, but there is a kids’ section with lots of types of exercise for strength, agility, flexibility, and cardio. You can customize a routine by swapping in different moves and adjusting the workout’s timer. The moves are all done by kids, with a voice-over explaining how to copy them. Sworkit has workout mixes through the app or on Apple Music and Spotify, including a kid-friendly mix.

Ages: Older elementary and up

Subscription required? No.

Available on: Android and iOS

Video resources

PBS Kids Video

This app is full of episodes and clips from shows like Peg + Cat, Sesame Street, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Molly of Denali, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and more. The grown-ups tab at the bottom gives ages ranges for each show, as well as goals, like science for Wild Kratts.

Ages: Two and up

Subscription required? No.

Available on: Android, iOS, Amazon, and Windows

CuriosityStream

CuriosityStream is a great resource for all kinds of documentaries. It has thousands of them, for science, history, nature, and more. There’s also a special kids’ section, with lots of David Attenborough, dinosaurs, and space-themed videos. The history category has movies about Chambord, the Silk Road, the Apollo Mission, and tons in between.

Ages: Older elementary and up

Subscription required? Yes, after the 30-day free trial (through Amazon), it’s $20 a year. There’s currently a special deal, where a yearly subscription is $12.

Available on: Android and iOS

Kanopy for Kids

This app actually has a ton of movies for everyone, but the kids’ section lets you stream an unlimited amount. (The general app may limit you, based on your library’s subscription.) It has both movies and TV shows, including many PBS shows. If you’re not sure what you want to watch, you’ll find things arranged in useful collections, like classic tales, explore science and math, and stories from around the world. Once you get into the kids’ section, it takes some clicking to get back out, which is useful if you don’t want your little ones accidentally watching Midsommer.

Ages: Two and up

Subscription required? Yes, but it may be available for free through your library, and you can log in with your library card.

Available on: Android and iOS

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