Top Pick

Great Apps for Play-Based Learning

While play is an essential way we learn throughout life, it's especially important for young kids. In early childhood education and in elementary classrooms, play is an indispensable learning tool because it allows kids to explore and begin to make sense of their world safely. These playful apps run the gamut of school subjects, and leverage the core qualities of play to get kids to wonder, experiment, and discover while building social and emotional skills, cultivating their creativity and critical thinking, and acquiring key math and literacy skills.

Beck and Bo by Avokiddo Publisher: AVOKIDDO
Drag-and-drop adventure great for learning new words in context
Grades Pre-K
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel Publisher: PBS KIDS
Fun exploration for kids; learning relies on grown-up input
Grades Pre-K
Type App
Price $1.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Fire phone
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Teachers say
Dr. Panda & Toto's Treehouse Publisher: TribePlay
Open play encourages empathy, critical thinking, imagination, wonder
Grades Pre-K-K
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Dr. Panda's Toy Cars Publisher: TribePlay
Role-play fun puts kids in the driver's seat
Grades Pre-K-K
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
LumiKids Park by Lumosity, Early Learning Play for Kids Publisher: Lumos Labs, Inc.
Practice three core cognitive skills with fun, whimsical critters
Grades Pre-K-K
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad
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Teachers say
MarcoPolo Ocean Publisher: MarcoPolo Learning
Young explorers discover oceans through puzzles and free play
Grades Pre-K-K
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms iPad
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Teachers say
Metamorphabet Publisher: Vectorpark.com
Explore an animated alphabet with this magical interactive gem
Grades Pre-K-K
Type App
Price $3.99
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Toca Town Publisher: Toca Boca
Kids run the world with perfect mix of fantasy and reality
Grades Pre-K-K
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Toca Tea Party Publisher: Toca Boca
Pretend play meets social skills at this cute interactive gathering
Grades Pre-K-1
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms iPad
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Teachers say
Hoopa City Publisher: TribePlay
Delightful, discovery-based worldbuilding encourages critical thinking
Grades Pre-K-2
Type App
Price Free to Try, Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
MarcoPolo Weather Publisher: MarcoPolo Learning
Adorable sandbox tool lets kids safely explore, experiment, observe
Grades Pre-K-2
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
My PlayHome Publisher: Shimon Young
Create a family and let imagination rule the house
Grades Pre-K-2
Type App
Price $3.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Nook HD, Apps for Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
My PlayHome Stores Publisher: Shimon Young
Free-play virtual shopping experience is full of surprises
Grades Pre-K-2
Type App
Price $1.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Nook HD
Common Sense says
Teachers say
DNA Play Publisher: AVOKIDDO
Adorable open-ended genetics app gives students mutation power
Grades Pre-K-5
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Fire phone
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Faces iMake - Right Brain Creativity Publisher: iMagine Machine LLC
Open-ended collage maker teaches symbolism and revs up creativity
Grades Pre-K-6
Type App
Price Paid
Platforms iPad
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Teachers say
Homes by Tinybop Publisher: Tinybop
Explore homes -- and cultures -- around the world in exquisite detail
Grades K-3
Type App
Price $3.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
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Teachers say
Toca Builders Publisher: Toca Boca
Students not quite ready for Minecraft get a creative, fun alternative
Grades K-4
Type App
Price $.99-$2.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Windows Phone, Apps for Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Toca Nature Publisher: Toca Boca
Create, explore, and enjoy realistic (but G-rated) virtual forests
Grades K-4
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Nook HD
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Teachers say
This is my body - Anatomy for kids Publisher: urbn; pockets
Age-appropriate content and graphics = fun, effective K-5 resource
Grades K-5
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms iPad
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Robot Factory Publisher: Tinybop
Improve designs, collect favorites in robot creation sandbox
Grades K-8
Type App
Price $3.99
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Space by Tinybop Publisher: Tinybop
Zoom into our solar system, solve mysteries with open-ended play
Grades 1-8
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated