I see it all the time. Parents handing their iPhone to their child to keep them entertained. Whether it's standing in the check-out line at a store, waiting in the doctor's office, riding in the car, or at an older sibling's sports event...kids are connected to the iPhone.
Here's a look at the 30 best iPhone apps for kids according to Parenting.com. (This is not a personal endorsement of these apps, but simply a look at which ones are popular with today's kids.) As you check these out, here's some questions to ponder. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
What makes these apps appealing to kids?
What can we learn for Children's Ministry from these apps?
What are some ideas for Children's Ministry apps?
If your children are into transportation and making things go, Helicopter Taxi is a must-have app. Using augmented reality, this app uses the device’s camera to create an effect of a helicopter flying across the room with your children who, of course, are always on-the-go. By moving the device around, your little pilots steer the helicopter to wherever they want it to fly, and then land on different surfaces to pick up more passengers. The graphics are crisp and strikingly real – your kids will delight in being the navigators of their very own helicopter adventures.
Parenting's Birthday Party Playtime, Ages 3 and Up
If your kids had fun with the adorable Toca Tea Party app, they'll love the newest offering from Toca Boca and Parenting. This super-sweet app lets your kid have a birthday every day of the week. Let your kids gather 'round the phone to share birthday cake and more
Is your kid obsessed with amphibians? With this app, your child will be able to collect, trade and breed new frogs in customizable habitats. Can be played with other friends, and features more than 60 rewards to earn as they go along.
Cut the Rope
An ugly-cute monster named Om Nom has to solve puzzles, using special tools like pulleys and catapults, and catch stars in order to score candy. This is the game that will keep your kid occupied for a verrrry long time on that cross-country road trip. You're going to have to figure out when you're going to get your turn.
Plants Vs. Zombies
You've got about 50 plants on your team ready to do battle when 26 types of zombies come spoiling for a fight. Not your ordinary greenery, these shrubs know how to make mulch out of the brain-seeking ghouls. With 50 levels of addictive play, composting corpses has never been so amusing. For the older kids in your family (yes, you and your spouse included).
Disney Fairies Fly
If watching one of the three Tinkerbell movies over and over simply isn't enough Tink for your pixie-lover, here's your fairy-laden solution! Tilting of an iDevice allows your child to guide a chosen fairy through a beautifully rendered Pixie Hollow, collecting treasures and avoiding obstacles. App also includes wallpapers and still shots from the movies, plus mini videos.
Jelly Car 2
The original Jelly Car was a breakout hit among hip kids, so it stands to reason that Jelly Car 2 will give your kidlet just as much chitty-chitty-bang-bang for the buck. With 30 new levels, three new modes (customization lets a player create their own JellyCar and puzzles), and new Sticky Wheels and Balloon abilities, your child might accidentally be learning something about physics and problem-solving while they play. (Shhhh -- don't tell.)
Already a super-fabulous PBS show for the preschool set, Super Why! takes your child's fave characters and delivers a bunch of gamelets where the alphabet, rhyming, spelling, writing and reading are all rolled out in fun ways. The catchy theme song will surely be playing in your head at 2am (sorry about that).
American Museum of Natural History: Dinosaurs
If you have a paleontologist-in-the-making on your hands, this is the app to download. The interface begins with an amazing mosaic of dino photos (more than 800) that make up an image of a T-Rex. Your child can tap on any one of those images to drill down to information on the creature featured. This is definitely an app you'll enjoy alongside your little one too.
Annoying? Hilarious? You decide! This little app records anything your child chooses to say, and repeats it back in either a "high squeaky or low freaky voice" via a fuzzy critter interface (choose from a guinea pig, puppy, kitten or Chihuahua). This one's sure to have your child in stitches.
No pics for the rest due to space limitations.
Transform your iPhone into an 88-key piano for your little Mozart. Realistic graphics feature 3D 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.
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.
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.
Toddler Teasers: Shapes
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.
Memory Match: Child Development Edition
In this 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.
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.
Ever go to the arcade and vent your frustrations on the Whack-a-Mole? Now your toddler gets a turn to whack some cute penguins on the iPhone (minus the big mallet.) Whack as many as you can in 20, 30 or 60 seconds by tapping the screen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Push the Button
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.
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.
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).
Tic-Tac-Toe 4 Two Players
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?"
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!
With dozens of different 3D 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.
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.
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.
Do you know any Children's Ministries that are creating apps for kids? Would love to hear about them. Share in the comment section below.