Foster your child's creative side during tech time! Check out these top-rated art, music, imagination-play, and creative-thinking apps for kids of all ages.
Sago Mini Music Box
Join Jack the rabbit, Jinja the cat, and Harvey the dog on a musical adventure! Toddlers choose their favorite tune — "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," or "Jingle Bells" — and move their animal all around to explore the land, water, and sky to different music tempos.
Coloring and drawing on a tablet or smartphone can be a blast! This app lets tots put their own special touch on a blank canvas or a variety of silly scenes, featuring everything from dinosaurs to cars to princesses. The app can help your child use his imagination while learning his colors and shapes. Plus, scribbling and doodling is an important precursor to learning to write.
Imagine an interactive, virtual doll house! In this app, kids control characters who can do just about anything: fry an egg, pour some milk, brush their teeth, blow bubbles outside, play music, close the drapes, turn off the lights, go to bed. It's an imaginative app that also helps promote life skills.
Car fanatics will love creating their very own vehicles in this app. Kids can choose from 30 cool car styles, and then customize their vehicle with more than 70 different parts, from plows and fire hoses to solar panels and spoilers. Once their vehicle is complete, they can store it in their garage or drive it on roads through cool scenes, from the city to the desert.
What's the difference between a violin and a viola? How big is a double bass? Who was this Beethoven guy? This app is full of snippets of classical music, animal-themed animations, and fun facts about all sorts of instruments and classical musicians. Kids can tap to hear the text narrated, or to sample different instruments, sound effects, and songs.
This app from the popular Dr. Panda series puts virtual (and mess-free!) paint, pens, clay, scissors, and glue in the palm of your child's hand. Kids can craft their own kites and pinwheels and play with them. Plus, they can spin clay on the pottery wheel or arrange fruit into imaginative shapes and objects. The app can inspire your young artiste to try new kinds of arts and crafts in the real world!
Action! This create-your-own-cartoon app is packed with neat features. Kids can draw their own world or choose from hundreds of characters and backgrounds in more than 50 themed "playsets," full of pirates, princesses, presidents, astronauts, and more. Then they can add special effects, sounds (including their own voice recordings), and images (including their own face) and put it all together as a video that they can share with friends, family, or their class for school projects.
Here's another imaginative app that allows kids to insert their own photos and go wild! The hit developers at Toca Boca created this hair-raising, rules-free app that fosters loads of creativity. Kids simply snap a portrait or choose from their existing pics, and then use different hair styling tools, colors, accessories (including hats and mustaches!), and backgrounds (including their own photos) to create an unforgettable new look for themselves or their friends and family members.
Kids (and parents) can now become the musician they've always dreamed of being with the help of this "magic" piano by the developers at Smule. Just choose a song and follow the beams of light, which guide your fingertips to the correct note. Users control the rhythm and tempo, and can choose from different instruments, levels of difficulty, and musical genres — from pop to country to classical. Put your own spin on hits by Bruno Mars, Mozart, Mariah Carey, Garth Brooks, and more!
Price: Free (plus various in-app purchases, $0.99 to $39.99 for all-access pass)
This hugely popular, block-themed virtual world builds on your child's creativity. It's an open-ended game that encourages players to explore different cube-shaped environments and gather materials to create tools, buildings, and villages. Players also need to problem-solve when it comes to "mobs" — friendly mobs of animals can help them, while hostile mobs of insects and zombies can harm villages. Choose from different levels of difficulty (the easiest level being the most peaceful). Also check out creative spin-off apps, such as Minecraft Papercraft Studio, which encourages fans to take a screen break and make Minecraft characters and objects in 3D from paper.