Thanks to an ever-growing crop of educational apps aimed at kids, screen time doesn’t have to be mindless! When it’s time to let the kids on the tablet or phone, indulge their brains with engaging and educational apps that’ll teach them about science, computing, math, foreign languages and much more. Kids can get their STEM skills on with our picks of some of the best apps that will teach and entertain. Read on to find out more about our favorite educational apps.

1. Hopscotch: Make Games

While there are plenty of apps on the marketplace designed to make computer programming more accessible to young learners, few are as simple to use and kid-friendly as Hopscotch. Aimed at kids ages 8 and older and created by a group of Brooklyn-based parents, educators and computer scientists, Hopscotch features a proprietary visual programming language (similar to Scratch) that helps young and beginner programmers develop basic coding skills and create neat digital projects—like games and interactive widgets—using drag and drop programming blocks. For inspiration, Hopscotch’s website features many games created by kids using the app.

Available for iOS, free with additional subscription options starting at $7.99/monthly.

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2. Crazy Gears

Understanding the fundamentals of how mechanics work can instill interest in engineering for kids who like to tinker. Crazy Gears is an award-winning digital puzzle game that replicates the functions of real moving parts and mechanical engines that will engage young engineers’ critical-thinking skills. By manipulating gears, chains, rods, and pulleys, players pull themselves through higher levels and learn how different mechanisms affect one another when constructing a machine. There are no right or wrong answers to solving puzzles, so mastering challenges through creativity is the name of the game. While the app is aimed at kids ages five through nine, the puzzles are intriguing and satisfying for older kids and parents, too.

Available for iOS, $2.99

3. The Robot Factory by Tinybop

What’s not to love about robots, right? Tinybop’s ingenious robot-making app lets young scientists create, test and collect robots on their mobile devices. From building exoskeletons to adding various robo-embellishments, Robot Factory is a fun, creative way to excite kids’ imaginations. Featuring an open-ended construction kit, players can pick from 100 parts to build thousands of different robots as well as add color schemes and specially recorded sounds. Kids will enjoy collecting and sharing robot stickers, while parents will appreciate no in-app purchases or third-party ads.

Available for iOS, $2.99

3. Monster Math

Filled with an assortment of surprising and silly characters, the Monster Math app takes junior mathematicians—grades one through three—on math-filled adventures that teach them about common core math skills. Featuring Maxx, a smart and kooky monster character, players help Maxx save his friend Dextra while practicing basic skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. A practice mode lets players solve math problems without the time constraints of needing to save characters during regular game play, and a multiplayer mode lets players invite friends to play together in real time.

Available for iOS and Android, free with in-app purchases and additional premium subscription options starting at $17.99/annually.

4. LightBot

Featuring 50 levels and 20 challenges, LightBot is a programming puzzle app that teaches players how to use programming logic to level up through the game. By guiding a robot to light up tiles and solve problems using basic computer coding commands, the app nurtures an appreciation and understanding of procedures, loops, and conditionals—all basics to computer programming. Available in nearly 30 languages and no in-app purchases, LightBot is a fun and addictive way to learn how to code.

Available for iOS, Android and Kindle, $2.99.

5. DragonBox

Empowering kids with a love for math, award-winning edutainment company DragonBox offers a wide assortment of gaming apps aimed at young learners ages four through nine and older. From math basics to algebra and geometry, DragonBox apps feature colorfully designed and animated games that guide kids through a variety of math skills through fun, interactive challenges. Created by a high school math teacher in 2011, DragonBox apps have been lauded by parents and educators alike, and featured in a variety of media outlets around the world.

Available for iOS, Android and Kindle, starting at $4.99.

6. Anatomy 4D

Using augmented reality, Anatomy 4D takes students and educators on an extraordinary journey inside the human body and heart, revealing the spatial relationships of organs, skeleton, muscles, and body systems. Featuring beautiful and realistically rendered graphics, the app’s cutting-edge technology provides an in-depth and interactive way to explore human anatomy. The app works by printing images from a library of images within the app, then using your mobile device to scan the image, the augmented reality experience comes to life.

Available for Android, free.

7. Stories by Gus on the Go

For parents of polyglot kids who already know about the acclaimed Gus on the Go language apps, which are available in 30 languages, a new series of apps called Stories by Gus on the Go take foreign language learning to the next level with read-along animated story books that will delight kids ages three and older. Currently available in French, Greek, Hebrew and Spanish, Stories by Gus on the Go features classic children's stories, including “The Three Little Pigs” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” as well as fun interactive games that help to reinforce foreign language vocabulary.

Available for iOS, free.

8. ScratchJr

Inspired by the eponymous visual programming language created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ScratchJr is a pared-down app that teaches kids as young as five years old the basic coding skills needed to program their own interactive stories and games. Using drag and drop programming blocks, players can make characters move, dance and sing. Through problem solving and design, young coders can create cool digital projects while developing skills in computer science and critical thinking.

Available for iOS and Android, free.

9. The Elements

Based on author Theodore Gray’s internationally best-selling book of the same name, The Elements app is a scrumptious visual exploration of the elements that make up everything around us. More than a simple reference app, The Elements showcases the building blocks of our universe through engaging words and photographs. Like the book, the app neatly mixes art and science, but the app’s interactive environment affords deeper dives into the rich details about each element. Parents and kids alike will never look at the periodic table in the same way again.

Available of iOS, $8.99.

10. Brainfeed

A smart and educational alternative to letting your kids fall down the YouTube rabbit hole of watching the bajilion variations of Finger Family song videos, Brainfeed is an educational video app that serves up more than 2,000 high-quality, edutaining and guilt-free video snacks for kids ages seven and older on a wide range of topics, including science, math, arts, social studies and more. With curriculum-based videos curated by parents and educators, selections are age-appropriate and screened for content. Entertaining, informative and inspiring, Brainfeed lets inquisitive young minds explore a universe of educational videos.

Available for iOS, free with in-app purchases and additional subscription options, starting at $1.99/monthly.

What are your favorite STEM and educational apps for kids? Tell us in the comments below!

—Kipp Jarecke-Cheng

images courtesy app developers