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Explainer: Get happy! 25 ideal iPhone apps for kids

  • As a parent, you're swamped. You're overwhelmed. You need to get somewhere fast, or get the kids under control in a hurry. What to do?

    Hand them your iPhone.

    Seriously. This is neither a) evil nor b) ill-advised. It's flipping genius!

    These days there are so many applications that are so perfect for kids of varying ages that your little ones really won't hurt your phone. (Hmmmm, well, OK ... most kids won't.) And many iPhone apps truly do have educational value.

    Parenting.com provided this handy roundup of iPhone applications and games for toddlers, preschoolers, little kids and big kids, too. Read on to keep your young ones happy and entertained with ease.

  • The Pianist, ages 4 and up


    Transform your iPhone into an 88-key piano for your little Mozart. Realistic graphics feature 3-D keys that depress as you touch them. And when the magnum opus is ready, your kids can record it, overdub it as many times as they want, and play it back for adoring fans.

    Available at: $3.99 on iTunes

  • Scribble, ages 4 and up


    Turn your iPhone into a miniature sketch pad. Draw your masterpiece, then shake to erase. With tons of colors, pen sizes, and draw-on photo options, the possibilities are endless. Equally appealing: the excuse to shake an iPhone violently.

    Available at: Free on iTunes

  • iPlayPhone, ages 2 and up

    Designed for the curious toddler (a.k.a. all toddlers), iPlayPhone lets little ones have all the fun and feel of a real iPhone without calling Tokyo. Just start the application and let your kid go crazy pressing the brightly colored buttons and chattering to her imaginary friends on the other end.

    Available at: Free on iTunes

  • Wooo! Button, all ages

    The Wooo! Button does one thing and one thing only: it screams WOOO! It will scream and scream until your giggling kid stops pushing — which will probably be never. This instant distraction is solid gold because, for some reason (and we're not sure why), it's just as funny on the 100th push as the first.

    Available at: Free on iTunes

  • Itsy Bitsy Spider, ages 2 and up


    Your young kids will love this one, and believe it or not, you'll have to fight the urge to play it as well. Set to the well-known "Itsy Bitsy Spider" tune, this highly interactive app is chock full of adorable images to poke, slide and explore. A friendly fly named Chloe serves as a helpful narrator, sharing information about rain, clouds, animals and more. This is just one of the fun apps created by Duck Duck Moose; other fabulous ones include "Old MacDonald" and "Wheels on the Bus."

    Available at: 99 cents on iTunes

  • Airport Mania: First Flight, ages 6 and up

    Airport Mania puts them in charge of getting passengers to their destinations on time, and they can upgrade to larger planes along the journey and pick out in-flight movies to keep customers happy. Kids can even design their own airport! You just have to trust us on this one — this air-traffic control puzzle is downright riveting.

    Available at: Free on iTunes

  • Toddler Teasers Shapes, ages 2-4


    Created by a real mom and dad searching for ways to occupy their own 2 year old, Toddler Teasers Shapes quizzes tots on the basics. Kids are told which shape to touch, and after four correct answers, they're rewarded with a virtual sticker. And if they push the square instead of the circle? They'll still learn as they go by hearing the name of the wrong shape and guessing again.

    Available at: Free on iTunes

  • Memory Match: Child Development Edition, ages 4 and up

    In this Jirbo flash memory game there is no luck, just pure memorization. Kids get points for remembering where they last saw matching pictures or numbers, and can spend days practicing.

    Available at: 99 cents on iTunes

  • iTot Toddler Flashcards, ages 1-4

    Just like traditional flashcards, iTot Toddler Flashcards teach the names of animals, foods, and other objects, as well as the alphabet and numbers. You'll get hundreds of beautiful cards in this simple application. And with language support, iTot Cards can teach these words in French and Spanish, too!

    Available at: 99 cents on iTunes

  • The Pool, all ages

    Dip your finger in and cause a rippling effect that covers the screen. Kids can get creative making different patterns with their ripples, and even catch a small tropical fish friend.

    Available at: Free on markj.net

  • Snowman 3D, ages 6 and up

    With dozens of different 3-D items to mix and match, kids can build some pretty unique snowmen! Start by rolling snowballs around the backyard to make each body part, then accessorize away. The game is easy to understand, and kids can build a snowy friend and save his picture, then demolish him.

    Available at: 99 cents on iTunes

  • Alphabet Animals, ages 4 and up

    Perfect for your talented toddler, this game is packed with colorful animations, animal sounds, and tons of tips for learning their letters. The digital flash cards are interactive, with animals that talk them through every letter of the alphabet.

    Available at: 99 cents on iTunes

  • Reversi, ages 6 and up

    Just like the board game, Othello, except your opponent is the iPhone. You play with the white chips, and the iPhone plays with the black. The goal is to surround your opponent's pieces with your own, which will turn your opponent's pieces into yours. The game continues until the board is full or no more moves are possible by either player — just long enough to get you out of the grocery store.

    Available at: $1.99 on iTunes

  • Cute Math, ages 3 and up

    Who knew numbers could be this adorable? This app allows young kids to get a feel for basic math concepts by lining up penguins, counting parachutes and putting apples in baskets, among other cheery tasks.

    Available at: $1.99 at iTunes

  • Checkers, ages 4 and up

    Everyone loves to play checkers, and now you can play on your iPhone. Tap once to select a checker, tap again to move it. So simple, and kids can play alone or against a sibling.

    Available at: Free on iTunes

  • Push the Button, all ages

    Ready. Set. Click! Kids have 30 seconds to click on as many buttons as possible — then endless hours to try to beat their high score. Ah, simple pleasures.

    Available at: Free on iTunes

  • FreshWater Aquarium, all ages

    Something fishy has found its way to the small screen. This application turns your iPhone into a freshwater haven for 19 species of fish. Tots can feed them and watch them grow, or play eye-spy, turning this aquarium into an exciting — yet quiet — distraction.

    Available at: 99 cents on iTunes

  • Mad Libs Lite, ages 6 and up

    Just as goofy and fun as your remember. Create silly stories by filling in the blanks with this addictive story creator. Great for your budding grammar-whiz, there are tons of stories to choose from, and there will be tons of giggling after.

    Available at: 99 cents on iTunes

  • WordSearch Kids, ages 6 and up

    Kids search and highlight vocabulary words by tapping the first and last letters. Find them all, brag a bit, then start another puzzle (because there are hundreds).

    Available at: 99 cents on iTunes

  • iSign Alphabet, ages 4 and up

    The entire American Sign Language Alphabet is now stored in one little application! After practicing, your kids will love showing off their new communication skills to the nice man waiting in line behind you at the post office.

    Available at: Free at usa-links.com

  • Infinite Maze, ages 4 and up

    Remember those big wooden box mazes that you had to tilt in order to move a marble through to the finish line? Well, now kids can play it on your iPhone. Tilting the iPhone gets highly addictive and the marble occasionally gets replaced with silly, random objects. Fun!

    Available at: 99 cents on iTunes

  • Tic-Tac-Toe 4 Two Players, ages 4 and up

    Got two kids in the backseat? Tic-Tac-Toe 4 Two Players solves all car trip squabbles. Siblings take turns being X's and O's and can focus on something else besides "Are we there yet?"

    Available at: Free on iTunes

  • Wacky Safari, ages 2-5

    We dig this collection of crazy safari games. With zany sounds from wild animals, and fun facts disguised as jokes, it'll keep toddlers giggling and teach them a little something as they mix and match animal photos.

    Available at: 99 cents on iTunes

  • Pegs, ages 4 and up

    The online version of the old-time golf-peg puzzle you find at Cracker Barrel is a brain-expanding hit. Jump the pegs to eliminate all the pegs but one. Every puzzle is solvable, and we're willing to bet you'll be asking for a turn to show them how it's done.

    Available at: Free on iTunes

  • Kids Bingo, ages 6 and up

    Bingo teaches numbers and words, but all kids know is that it's fun to celebrate when they get five in a row.

    Available at: Free on m.mathslice.com

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