Giving your kids the best possible start before preschool is so important.
True education begins well before academic school. Kids can learn a whole language by the time they hit the age of 3. When they start school, they at least need to be able to communicate clearly.
But some schools will often expect them to be able to count, do basic arithmetic and to recognize letters and pair them with sounds. But sitting them down in front of the TV is just not going to achieve that.
Worst case scenario, your child could be made to feel as though they are stupid while the other kids show off and show how well ahead they are.
But, such a scenario can easily be avoided. Not only can preschool apps teach important lessons, but their interactive nature alone is stimulating enough in itself. Life is about participation, not observation.
In this article, we’re going to be reviewing 5 of the best free preschool apps around. But with so much choice out there, it can be hard to know which ones to pick, which is why we have also put together a guide on choosing the right preschool app for your child.
And without further ado, let’s get straight to it…
In a hurry? Check out our top pick!
OUR TOP PICK
Now, this is an app that’s incredibly colorful and vibrant, and will have no trouble getting your child’s attention when the animation comes alive on screen and the narrator starts talking.
It’s a great overall app that teaches a wide variety of skills and subjects rather than focusing on just one. The app features over 150 individual games to play, so if your child gets bored with one game, they can simply move onto another.
The games do not need to be played in any particular order. They can either start on whatever game attracts their attention, or you can tap on whatever game it is you want them to work on.
There are several games that cover the basics, such as ones that test the kids on the names of animals, names of foods, names of body parts, and names of vehicles. And once they can prove their competence in these areas, they will have the confidence to tackle the other, more academic-like games.
These games can teach your child how to recognize letters and their corresponding sounds, and the numbers 1 through to 10 and what they mean. And the days of the week, followed by months of the year.
But it also boosts your child’s skills that run alongside such learning, such as testing their memory and their observational skills (spotting the odd one out), as well as their dexterity as they color or draw.
One of the things that we love about this app is how it features nursery rhymes that are played alongside animated videos, which is a great way to help settle a child after a tantrum (we all know what that’s like!)
We also love how this app also teaches children about community helpers, so they can learn about how other people that may enter their lives can be of service to them. They could even be representative of real life role models.
The overarching benefit of this app however has to be how much variety it holds in store. IN addition to the games we’ve already made reference to, there are also music games, dress up games, jigsaw puzzles, games about good habits, puzzles for kids, and more.
It’s predominantly aimed at children aged between 2 and 5 years of age.
The drawback is the in-app purchases, which can range from just under $3 to closer to $25 per item, which is pretty steep.
- Over 150 individual games to play
- Bright, colorful and very cheerful
- Wide variety of games & activities
- Develops many important skills
- Effectively prepares them for school
- There are in-app purchases
Now, this is an app that screams fun! And it’s such a joy for kids to see and interact with.
But more importantly, it teaches kids which sounds correspond to which combination of letters, discretely teaching them how to read in a way where they feel like they are just playing fun little games.
We thought it was well worth putting a game that focused solely on reading and pronunciation in our shortlist, because effective communication is one of the greatest skills anyone can have in life, for the duration of their life.
It’s the cornerstone of just about all the other subjects they will learn once they start school, and a skill that can help them to achieve their dream job later in life, whatever that may be.
This app can teach your child over a whopping 300 words, with 30 main phonics sounds, thanks to its many reading and spelling games aimed at kids up to the age of 8.
And one of the things that’s great about this app is that it features multi-level games, which means that once they’ve got one sound and letter combination down pat, they can build on this skill and progress to a new level, and be challenged further still.
And that’s not all, it also encourages kids to blend the letters together as they read them, which is a skill that will also help them when they come to learn more complex words as their reading ability progresses.
And the games are so much fun, the letters have faces, so they become characters, and your child gets to launch bright fireworks into the sky by collecting letters into short words. Or help the letters find the right floor in an elevator, so they can get to a party, or put a team of letter astronauts together to launch into space.
In addition to building their skill in phonics, reading and pronunciation, it also helps to develop your child’s attention training, memory, and fine motor skills.
The drawback is the in-app purchases, which can range from just under $2 to closer to just over $5. It may not sound like much, but it can soon add up.
- The games are particularly fun and exciting to play
- Teaches over 300 words & 30 phonics sounds
- Teaches the blending of letters and sounds to form words
- There’s a variety of difficulty levels, to keep your child progressing
- Very engaging and entertaining user interface
- Also improves memory, attention and fine motor skills
- There are some cheap in-app purchases
This is such a friendly little up that your toddler will just love. While playing little games on this app, your preschooler will learn how to count not just to 10 but up to 20.
But it’s not like counting drawings on a piece of paper - it’s interactive, and the kid has to tap on the items to count them, and there are fun sound effects and bright graphics throughout.
But there are other number games here besides this. There is number matching, where the kid has to recognize the right number, and fill in the blank, to help them to learn the correct sequence of numbers.
Another great game is on number tracing, where your child can work on their fine motor skills and dexterity by tracing the numbers. This is great for preparing them to learn to write these numbers with a pencil.
And it’s a very rewarding set of games for the kids too, because as they successfully complete each game, they get rewarded with cool colorful stickers. They will soon want to collect all the stickers, which will encourage them to play more and more.
When first starting with the app, kids and parents can play together. But once your child has got the hang of a particular game, it’s a great way of keeping them occupied while you fix dinner or such.
And the reason you can let them play away to their heart’s content, is that there are no pesky in-app purchases along the way.
So no matter how long they play there, they won’t rake up a nasty bill. It’s also worth noting at this point that there are no third party adverts either, so your child can concentrate on their number learning games completely uninterrupted.
- It’s very bright, colorful, fun and engaging
- It teaches counting & number sequences
- It teaches number tracing & fine motor skills
- It features an encouraging reward system
- There are no in-app purchases to worry about
- The numbers only go up to 20, some parents have said they wish it went to 100
Have you heard of the Montessori method? It’s all about emphasizing independence in a child’s education. And it’s perfect for children who are naturally eager to learn.
But there’s no need to worry, the learning games Montessori Preschool app are well suited for kids aged between 3 and 7, its intuitive design makes it easy for kids to take part and learn. The app is colorful and friendly, and the animations will maintain the child’s attention.
It features over 100 individual activities. We were impressed with the wide range of topics covered by the app. For the smaller kids, there’s nursery rhymes, drawing and coloring, and mimicking of normal everyday activities…
But for kids who are ready to learn more, there’s also counting and basic math, sounds, phonics and reading, and even foreign languages, and logic, coding and reasoning games.
Their learning is grounded in the fundamentals of the Montessori method philosophy. Your child will learn independently without prompting, they will correct their mistakes, and it will empower them and foster self-confidence, developing the best possible mind set for the road ahead. And this is arguably more important than many of the topics themselves.
There’s a fun reward system in place, to encourage your child to progress forward. And, speaking of progress, there’s a handy dashboard for parents, which tracks your child’s progress and suggests which activity would be good to try next.
Unfortunately, this app does have in-app purchases. Some of them are quite reasonably pierced at circa $5, but there are some on there that cost about $60, so please exercise caution.
- It fosters independence and a “can do” attitude
- It has over 100 activities across a broad range of topics
- It teaches literacy, numeracy, languages, and reasoning
- Your child will learn how to correct their mistakes
- There’s a fun rewards system & a progress dashboard
- There are in-app purchases, and some of them can be quite expensive
Now, this is an adorable little app, with its collection of cute little whimsical characters. It features award-winning content and hundreds of fun lessons. All age-appropriate for preschoolers through to second grade.
It features a robust curriculum, inclusive of such things as reading, phonics, literacy, counting, measuring, basic math, and memory and problem-solving.
And this is all great. But then the Khan Academy Kids app adds on some great extras that you simply don’t see in other educational preschool apps. There is also an element of boosting social and emotional development. It teaches about relationships, empathy, self-control, story-telling, and even gets them practicing mindfulness.
And that’s not all. There’s also some emphasis on keeping kids physically active, with dancing and yoga activities.
And this is an app that can actually save you money. You don’t have to worry about going out to buy books every few weeks. Instead, there’s an entire library that your child can access, and until they can read independently, they can follow along with recorded audio narration.
Your child’s learning experience is personalized to them, with an adaptive learning path that allows your child to learn at their own pace.
It’s available for both Android and Apple devices.
- Award-winning content with hundreds of activities
- Boosts social and emotional development
- Keeps kids happy and physically active
- Teaches a very wide & robust curriculum
- Cute set of whimsical characters
- Some parents have complained about repetition in some of the activities, but we would argue that this helps to reinforce their learning
Best Free Preschool Apps Buying Guide
As promised, here’s the guide we put together for you. It covers all your most important considerations when choosing a free preschool app.
Unfortunately, many preschool apps that are free to download make their money by offering in-app purchases.
And while this isn’t such a bad thing if it were an adult using the app, children and toddlers simply do not have the necessary awareness and responsibility to turn down these offers when they are presented, and they could easily rack up a sizable bill while you go completely unawares.
If the app you want to use has such in-app purchases, then you will have to take measures to ensure that the child doesn’t make them.
You could either explain to them that making such purposes is naughty, or simply don’t have your bank details in the system, which is far more effective.
The other option, of course, is to go for apps that feature adverts for their profit making, rather than ones that ask the user to make in-app purchases.
Attractive User Interface
In order to attract a preschooler’s attention, a successful preschool app needs to be colorful and vibrant. The user interface should also be uncluttered, as this makes it easier to take in the important points.
But that’s not all. The user interface should go a step further and also maintain the child’s attention. And that will require moving animations, and sounds. The child should be able to see that when they interact with the app, they make a difference to what happens in the app.
It’s nice for the child to be able to interact with a character on screen, but this does not necessarily have to be a human character, though young children do make great characters to interact with.
Suited To Their Ability Level
It’s no good expecting a child to keep themselves occupied with an app if they cannot do what the app is asking of them. But similarly, there’s no reason to waste too much of their time on activities they can do without thinking.
Rewards And Progressive Challenges
The use of some kind of reward system is very important in education. Children love to feel that they have achieved something, no matter how small.
And while this can’t be represented in, for example, a percentage score, they could perhaps gain a number of stars or hearts for doing well in the task. And once they have mastered the basics of a particular task, the app should push them further still.
Addressing the Right Topics
If you’ve already managed to identify areas where your child might struggle, it is important that the app you choose helps to develop their skill/memory/knowledge in these areas.
User ratings can be very telling about what an app is like and how well it goes down with consumers.
Apps typically have lots of 5-star ratings and 1-star ratings, however, because most people only bother to leave a rating or review if they were either particularly impressed or unimpressed with it.
You should look for apps that have at least a 4-star average user rating. All the apps that made our shortlist have at least a 4-star rating.